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President? What President?

President Bush

President Bush addresses the Republican National Conventions via satellite on Tuesday. His absence at the convention -- due to Hurricane Gustav -- may have made it easier for Republicans to ignore him in their speeches. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Which party currently controls the White House? Has there been a Republican president for the last eight years? If you watched the GOP convention last night after just arriving from Mars (and if that's the case, welcome!), you might be forgiven for not knowing the answer to those questions.

Much has been made here this week of President Bush's physical absence. He addressed the convention Tuesday night live via satellite from Washington, after Hurricane Gustav cancelled his planned in-person appearance and that of Vice President Cheney. But Wednesday night's program really drove home the extent to which the party Bush has led for eight years is now pretending he doesn't exist.

Convention organizers helpfully sent out the prepared speech text for 17 speakers last night, from Anne Beiler, founder of Auntie Anne's soft pretzels, to Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, the GOP's vice presidential nominee. Those 17 people delivered a total of roughly 17,000 words, and only one of them was "Bush."

"Did you hear any Democrats talk last week about the threat from radical, violent Jihad?" asked ex-Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, more than two hours into the night's program. "Republicans believe that there is good and evil in the world. Ronald Reagan called-out the Evil Empire. George Bush labeled the terror-sponsor states the Axis of Evil."

And that was it -- no other references to Bush the entire night.

But at least he did get one mention. Cheney got zero. On a night when Republicans lauded the woman they hope will be the next vice president, they essentially erased the man she would succeed in the job.

So who WAS mentioned Wednesday night? "Reagan" got five hits. "Theodore Roosevelt" got one, as did "FDR" and "Harry Truman."

As for more modern Democrats, "Obama" got 30 mentions (including one "Obamanation") plus another 11 variations on "opponent." "Biden" was spoken three times and "Hillary" twice. "Harry Reid" scored one mention but "Pelosi" none (she must be devastated).

Of course, the 2001-2008 interlude has not been completely erased from history. There has been the War on Terror, led by ... well, it's not clear. There was the Iraq War and the more recent "surge" of troops, which was ordered by ... someone, and John McCain supported it! There were more than 20 mentions of "change," but from what? From whom?

Maybe we'll find out during tonight's program. Stay tuned.

By Ben Pershing  |  September 4, 2008; 3:33 PM ET
Categories:  2008 Campaign  
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Next: House Candidates Back on the Program


Not even a mention of the Economy at the Republican convention last night.

There should be little wonder why the Stock Market really TANKED today? Worst drop in years!!

Truly, the GOP simply doesn't get it! How sad!

My family has been Republicans for centuries. Not this year. The Party is OVER!!

This 'Ticket' has done nothing to inspire the people. They deserve to lose!!

Posted by: Hanke | September 4, 2008 4:42 PM | Report abuse

History will note that when George W. Bush addressed the Republican Party convention in 2008 as its president, he literally phoned it in. That says a lot about his entire presidency.

Posted by: Daniel J. Drazen | September 4, 2008 4:44 PM | Report abuse

Please Republicans, don't scare the average American into voting for you again and sealing the fate of our country.

Posted by: willandjansdad | September 4, 2008 4:52 PM | Report abuse

And your point is....

Posted by: rmorrow | September 4, 2008 4:54 PM | Report abuse

Here she is--SARAH PALIN, explaining how she got into politics--


Posted by: Anonymous | September 4, 2008 4:54 PM | Report abuse

The Republican convention, like the last eight years, has been dominated by fantasy, delusion and name-calling. Too bad we end up apying all the bills and bad debts of both!

Posted by: JoeS | September 4, 2008 5:09 PM | Report abuse

All stage show. Everyone at the convention avoids talking about Bush to generate these kind of stories.

Then McCain singles out Bush in his speech. He's the only one who can talk straight, you see. The maverick who dares address the topics that no other Republican will touch.

Who loses? Bush is a lame duck; his legacy lives or dies whether the GOP retains the presidency. McCain's saddled with his pro-Bush voting record anyway, but this way he can make a show of denouncing it. You get video of GOP delegates booing GWB's name.

Cue fawning "McCain: True Maverick" headlines tomorrow morning, and "The Republican party is ready for a change." It's all staging, folks.

Posted by: Nick, MD | September 4, 2008 5:12 PM | Report abuse

There's only one word for the RNC: pathetic.

Posted by: Kiwi | September 4, 2008 5:18 PM | Report abuse

The speakers sounded like thugs rather than politicians with a message and the media are swooning over this.It is easy to be negative.It is easy to fest on division.But what the country needs is vison and that is what Obama offers.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 4, 2008 6:28 PM | Report abuse

The Republican Party must reinvent itself. That requires a crushing defeat. Anything less will allow excuses and the current crop of losers to stay in control.

Posted by: OSCAR | September 4, 2008 6:30 PM | Report abuse

"The speakers sounded like thugs rather than politicians"

This is what I've been calling the b**t**ds in the White House for years.

More of the same.

Posted by: magpie | September 4, 2008 7:12 PM | Report abuse

....the republican's seem so mean-spirited.

Posted by: mary | September 4, 2008 7:13 PM | Report abuse

The not ready for Prime Time Players!!

Posted by: the Monk | September 4, 2008 7:14 PM | Report abuse

How do you become a candidate of 'reform' when you have been part of the problem for the last 8 years?

Palin accepted endorsements, money, etc.. from Ted Stevens, another Republican in office, during her term(s) as mayor and governor. She has also abused her power as governor for a personal matter.

The Republican Party (as a whole) has been in power 6 of the last 8 years (with a two term Republican president residing).

McCain voted with Bush over 90 percent of the time and he is another Republican that needs to be reformed (like vote him out of the Senate, period).

This idea of being a reformer is great but your party is the sitting party that needs to be changed (and being a hockey mom just doesn't do it for me).

Posted by: ssanford00 | September 4, 2008 10:18 PM | Report abuse

For someone who's family is off limits Palin sure spent a lot of her speech talking about them.

Personally, what turns me off about Palin is her long history of petty and vengeful firings of career civil servants. It reminds me of the Bush cronyism; favoring loyalty over competence. Beyond the practical cost of this sort of behavior, it is incredibly hateful and unethical.

Posted by: Patrick | September 4, 2008 10:58 PM | Report abuse

Last night McCain told the world in plain open English that he's out for "change." Previous Republican looters got the serious cash already.

Posted by: harvested | September 5, 2008 10:36 AM | Report abuse

Palin is nothing more than Cheney in drag, and McCain is well--McCain. Now that's change you can believe in.

Posted by: edfeeney, SF | September 5, 2008 12:48 PM | Report abuse

Ironic, isn't it, how the Republicans sank John Kerry with their Swift Boat attack on his heroic war record, but how John McCain is using his hero status to justify his bid for the presidency?

Posted by: June | September 5, 2008 8:05 PM | Report abuse

John McCain is nothing but a pathetic delusional old man who is hot tempered and seems to conveniently not remember things he has done in the past. How nice was John McCain to give info to the North Vietnamese freely about the flying patterns of the bombing flights over North Vietnam. His last name should be McShame and not McCain.
check this:

Posted by: george33 | September 6, 2008 9:27 AM | Report abuse

My vote cancels out y'alls.

Posted by: Skeeter | September 6, 2008 10:25 AM | Report abuse

If I were a Republican, I too would have done everything possible to keep Dubya out of sight. And now McCain, having been a virtual Bush clone over the last eight years, has the gall to declare himself a change agent? Has he been ingesting recreational pharmaceuticals????

How ironic (and sad, methinks) that the McCain of 2000, admirable in many ways for his independence and real straight talk, has morphed into the McCain of 2008. He proclaims his distance from Bush, but that is simply another act of self-delusion, rather like his pretending that he understands how most of us live.

Posted by: old white male democrat in WV | September 6, 2008 11:18 PM | Report abuse

Republicans have been in charge for years. Republicans want Change. Vote Republican!

McCain didn't want Bush at the convention because all of his policies are Bush's and he didn't want to share the limelight with the Worst President Ever!!

Posted by: thebob.bob | September 8, 2008 1:06 AM | Report abuse

The national debt has doubled in 7 years and 2/3 of businesses don't pay any taxes, thanks to Bush and Republicans in Congress. Vote for "Gramps and Gidget" if you want facism and don't want health care or a secure retirement.

Posted by: Chuck | September 8, 2008 12:15 PM | Report abuse

"My vote cancels out y'alls."

Posted by: Skeeter

Maybe. But your IQ certainly cancels out at least one that is above average.

Posted by: edwcorey | September 8, 2008 5:35 PM | Report abuse

What we are really looking for is the names George W. Bush and Dick Cheney in the obituary column. What a blessing that would be! Even better, though if John McCain and Sarah Palin should also appear there !

Posted by: Donald McMunn | September 8, 2008 11:50 PM | Report abuse

Bush ran for president because "I think God wants me to be President." Most of his decisions were guided by his personal God.
Now we have a candidate who belongs to a "religious" cult that propagates: "speaking in tongues", censorship, "abstinence only" sex education, outlawing abortions, tax money for religious schools, and believes in personal guidance from God.
Just what we need, another ultra-conservative, religious nut who things God is guiding their every decision.

Posted by: The Fantom | September 9, 2008 12:47 PM | Report abuse

This article shows it's author's lack of understanding of the political process!

A political party merely endorses (or refuses to do so) a citizen who has filed his/her papers declaring candidacy for an office. It has been common for years for candidates to be nominated by more than one party. Here I cite as examples the Farmer-Labor Party of Minnesota, The Liberal Party of New York State. There are others. In my view, it is improper to speak of an office holder as a Republican or as a Democratic, or a "xxxxx" office holder because he/she was endorsed as a party's best choice among the candidates.

Posted by: Robert G. Stift | September 9, 2008 3:11 PM | Report abuse

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