BUSHTomPennington:Getty

Is anyone surprised by this?

The live, 25-minute interview that Rush Limbaugh just conducted with George W. Bush was, not surprisingly, marked by excessive flattery and deference and a complete lack of follow-up questions. If anything, it resembled the weekly radio show of a college football coach, in which a professional-sounding host is paid to good-naturedly lob softballs and never -- ever -- offend the interview subject.

The closest Rush came to putting the former president on the spot was his response to Bush's defense of his "comprehensive immigration reform" initiative (a term that Rush himself, perhaps for the first time ever, used without sarcasm). "Many people," Limbaugh told Bush, "thought the Democrats wanted to register these people as new Democrat voters." Bush said he was aware of this but that he thought comprehensive reform was "good policy" anyway.

If there was one dominant theme in Limbaugh's questions, it was the mean-spiritedness of "the Democrat Party" -- and the admirable, almost superhuman restraint that Bush has shown in not lashing back at his foes.

The interview encapsulates the conservative incoherence of the past ten years. Their partisanship made them - for the most part - blind to Bush's attack on real conservatism in his presidency. The fiscal catastrophe, the "deficits-don't-matter" lunacy, the off-budget nation-building endless wars, the budget-busting Medicare entitlement, the executive power supremacy, the descent into war crimes: all of this violated core conservative principles, and, even now, the alleged guardian of such principles, Rush Limbaugh, slobbers pathetically in front of a president he should have been debunking from the get-go.

(Photo: Tom Pennington/Getty.)

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