The Elephant in the room.

He was the elephant in the room, so to speak, at the CNN Debate in Mesa, AZ. And this issue is why Campaign 2012 on the Republican side is so depressing.

The he is George W. Bush. And the issue is that Rick Santorum and Mitt Romney spent most of the debate campaigning against George W. Bush without using his name.

They went after each other on earmarks, spending, No Child Left Behind, Medicare Part D, the debt ceiling, and on and on. Santorum apologized for some votes. He defended some votes. Mitt Romney had the temerity to suggest he would have opposed some or all of that legislation even though, at the time, he was quite supportive of it all — including raising the debt ceiling. All of these were George W. Bush approved, adding also TARP and the auto bailout. They are also issues about which many conservatives and conservative organizations sold their souls to the Republican Party in the name of team work, damn the principles at stake.

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