BUSH’S FAILURE: He’s doing all right on the war — but he’d better be, because this is really damning:

WASHINGTON — Addressing the delegates more than two years ago at the Republican National Convention, President Bush invoked a line that had become a sort of mantra.

“Big government is not the answer,” he said.

Now, just past the midway point of his first term in office, Bush is presiding over the largest, most expensive — and, some would say, most intrusive — federal government in history.

Domestically, we might have a smaller government with Al Gore as President. As the article notes:

In the past five years, while median household income has grown by about 16 percent, the federal government’s spending has increased by 45 percent.

The trend was under way when Bush took office. After a four-year period ending in 1997 that saw fairly stable spending management — Congress’ budget authority grew from $509 billion to $511 billion — a spike began in 1998, when federal spending got an $18 billion boost to $529 billion. Spending in 2003 could top $750 billion.

Okay, a lot of that happened under Clinton/Gore — but Bush promised to stop it, not to carry on the policies of his predecessors. That was Gore’s schtick.

UPDATE: Matthew Yglesias points up another dropped ball, though he’s surprisingly charitable about it. Still, someone in the White House needs to be paying more attention here.