Breaking His Mold, Obama Plays the Name Game

With an eye on the mid-term elections, President Obama has sought a context in which he can explain the nation's strained economic conditions and he has settled on a name: George W. Bush.

Pitching Democrats as the solution and Republicans as the problem, the president said Thursday at a Chicago fundraiser for Senate Candidate Alexi Giannoulias that Republicans "promise to do the exact same things that got us into this mess. They haven't come out with a single solitary idea that is different from the policies that held sway for eight years before Democrats took over. Not a single policy difference that's discernible from George W. Bush. Not one."

It's a message Mr. Obama has honed over the last few weeks, using the analogy that Republicans drove us into a ditch and now they want the keys back. But the president has largely avoided mentioning President Bush by name; until Monday, when he singled out the former commander in chief at a fundraiser in Atlanta. Perhaps this is because Mr. Bush has tried to keep himself mostly out of the public eye and the political dialogue.

With an unflinching 9.5 percent nationwide jobless rate, Mr. Obama knows voters have all other issues in their peripheral vision. He has beefed up his recent speeches, both political and policy-driven, with details of his efforts to create more jobs and encourage new private sector hiring. But as the mid-terms near, that doesn't appear to be enough, so he's started to name names.