We're all familiar with the various misguided decisions of the Bush Administration. I'm personally of the position that the root causes generally lay in ignorance and recklessness, as opposed to malice or selfishness ... but reasonable minds can differ.
Put another way, Bush's problems weren't with his goals. Protecting the country from terrorists, improving schools, helping seniors get medicine ... all noteworthy goals. The problems were the 'unintended consequences' - the 'unknown unknowns' that he should have known.
Now, even though Republicans refuse to mention his name in public anymore, it can't be pointed out enough that Bush's legacy casts a shadow over the entire political atmosphere. The irony is that collateral damage of his presidency continues to rain down on the Republican party.
Sen. Olympia Snowe's retirement should remind us that the Republican party hasn't so much lost mainstream politicians as rejected them. Reasonable Republicans don't even see the point in participating.
Why have so many 'moderate' republicans been drawn or forced out office? Because of Bush. Well, in 2006 and 2008 it was because Bush had so damaged the Republican brand that general election voters essentially fired the party (costly wars, deficits, and a recession can do that). But it continued in 2010, and seems to be continuing into 2012, because the Right Wing refuses to accept moderates.
Why? Because of Bush. Go back and look at the 'unacceptable' deviations from 'conservative orthodoxy' that Republicans from Rick Santorum to Olympia Snowe committed. More often than not, they were endorsed or pressured by the Bush administration.
It seems a bit unfair doesn't it? Your a moderate Republican. Your president wants you to support some proposal - you may have some reservations, but it's your party's president and you follow the party line, it's not like you have a choice anyway. Down the line your president is totally disgraced, by even your own party's base, and now you're labelled a two-sided insider who can't be trusted.
That's not to say that moderates can simply blame Bush for all their problems. But if Right Wingers are going condemn a certain kind of behavior, they need to diagnose it's source.
The Right Wing needs to get honest here. There problem with the moderates may or may not be legitimate. But 'conservative' issues weren't abandoned or undermined by moderates, liberals, mainstream media, academics, or african socialist muslims; they were undermined by George W. Bush's ignorant and reckless administration.
It would also help if they avoided nominating another ignorant and reckless nominee this time around ...