At the end of a devastating review of Stanley Kurtz and Dinesh D'Souza, Ramesh Ponnuru drops this interesting observation:
One reason conservatism's political fortunes rebounded so quickly after the 2008 election is that liberalism made its critique of President Bush too personal-a matter of his own alleged stupidity and closed-mindedness rather than of the conservative creed. If Americans reach the verdict that President Obama is a failure, it would be better for conservatism if they attributed that failure to the liberalism he shares with most of his party rather than to his personal quirks.
I think he might be on to something here. Republicans had a pretty easy time escaping the taint of Bush-era failures, even though they have largely doubled down on the same policies. The primary Republican policy goal is... to extend the Bush tax cuts! It does seem as though Democrats failed to create a frame to explain Bush's failures, the way Republicans used a frame to link Democrats to Jimmy Carter for a dozen years.