Two sides of Bush hatred
Occasionally, the Washington Post will have “dueling editorials” where a common theme shares a joined title. Today it was Robert Samuelson vs. E.J. Dionne in (respectively): Bush-Hatred: Fearful Loathing… …or Rational Response
Here’s Dionne’s reasoning for hating the President:
So what went wrong? Unrequited bipartisanship. Implicitly, the Democrats expected that the new situation would produce a new Bush, less partisan and less ideological. For a few months after the attacks, that was the Bush who showed up to work every day. He and the Democrats did a lot of business together, and the country seemed happy.
It could not last, because Bush didn't want to be Dwight D. Eisenhower, a nonpartisan leader who unified the country without being much help to his party. Ticket splitting began in a big way during the 1950s when millions of Democrats went for Ike but stuck with their party on the rest of the ballot. Bush wanted to realign the country and create a Republican majority for bold conservative policies at home and abroad. [Emphasis added]
So the leader of the Republican party wanted to *gasp
* forward conservative policies!?! And create a Republican majority? The fiend! I had no idea.
This is naiveté presented as outrage. The deeper truth is that Democrats believed that the close 2000 election gave Bush no mandate to lead and therefore he should do nothing. This is why Democrats believe they have the right to block judicial nominees on the flimsiest grounds. It explains the rise of Howard Dean who stokes the fires of Florida and solemnly vows to rescind all the Bush tax cuts in an orgy of realignment.
But, as Robert Samuelson notes, what really twists the balls of the Democrats and feeds the Bush hatred is that he’s persistently successful:
In the end, Bush hating says more about the haters than the hated -- and here, too, the parallels with Clinton are strong. This hatred embodies much fear and insecurity. The anti-Clinton fanatics hated him not simply because he occasionally lied, committed adultery or exhibited an air of intellectual superiority. What really infuriated them was that he kept succeeding -- he won reelection, his approval ratings stayed high -- and that diminished their standing. If Clinton was approved, they must be disapproved.
Ditto for Bush. If he succeeded less, he'd be hated less. His fiercest detractors don't loathe him merely because they think he's mediocre, hypocritical and simplistic. What they truly resent is that his popularity suggests that the country might be more like him than it is like them. They fear he's exiling them politically. On one level, their embrace of hatred aims to make others share their outrage; but on another level, it's a self-indulgent declaration of moral superiority -- something that makes them feel better about themselves. Either way, it represents another dreary chapter in the continuing coarsening of public discourse. [Emph. added]
After Clinton was re-elected in 1996, I resigned myself to four more years of a Democrat in the White House. But at no point (honest
) did I question the wisdom of the American people. After all, the economy was in good shape and there were no foreign endeavors threatening American shores. But nowadays whenever I read the left-leaning blogs or news sources, there’s this ossified belief that if America votes to re-elect President Bush it will be for a whole host of reasons – anything
except that America actually agrees with the Bush Administration’s policies. There’s a liberal hauteur that farmers in Kansas or gun-owners in Alabama can’t possibly
know what’s good for the country. They’re duped and brainwashed, fooled and suckered into voting Republican. And when voters from Oregon to Florida choose to re-elect Bush in 2004, the Barbra Streisands and Paul Krugmans will silently bow their heads and wonder why everyone in America is so stupid.
: Polipundit declares Dionne's analysis (regarding 2004) the "dumbest prediction of the year