Bush/Cheney policies failed so spectacularly, Republican candidates and officeholders are generally reluctant to associate themselves with the tarnished name of the previous administration. But Bush/Cheney policies are still those of the contemporary Republican Party. Nothing has changed. Failure and defeat haven't chastened the GOP at all, and if given a chance to govern again, Republican leaders are quite anxious to return to the exact same agenda they embraced when they were in the majority.Benen is an outstanding blogger, but he's off track here. For the Republicans, it's a matter of being themselves. And a lot of times that means being assholes. From the GOP point of view, the Bush administration and McCain campaign were not aggressive enough about promoting conservativism, insufficiently willing to push wedge issues, and altogether too prissy about things like truth, fairness, and effective government. What mainstream Limbaugh conservatives value most highly is constant aggression in the their never-ending war against liberals, gays, and minorities. Name-calling, fear-mongering, and race and gay baiting aren't just political tactics (although they are that), they're also expressions of conservative identity.
Paraphrasing Bill Parcells (who knows a lot about being an asshole), the Republicans are what they are. If the Obama administration, Democrats, and progressives want to govern effectively, they're just going to have to acknowledge the reality of Republican intransigence and resolve to fight just as hard as the Republicans fight.
Otherwise, we're going to lose . . . again.