Rational Hatred

09.9.2004 | David L. Steinhardt | National Affairs | 4 Comments
There’s a funny phrase going around Republican circles these days. Those who oppose President Bush are said to have an “irrational hatred” for him.

Those who object to emptying the federal treasury into the pockets of those who least need the money, while hard-working citizens go without health care, adequate schooling or decent housing, are said to be fomenting “class warfare.”

We are in a curious time in America. The president who ran as “a uniter, not a divider” has failed. We are a nation split in half, with neither half listening very well to the other, as the Right proclaims the Left deluded and treasonous while the Left proclaims the Right stupid and evil.

I believe in the two-party system. The strength of this country, when it is in fact strong, comes from the vigor of our debate. If not for true conservatives, our laws would shift with the wind. If not for true liberals, our society would never enfranchise those traditionally left out (women, blacks, gays, et al). We need our extremists as much as we need our moderates, because the fringe goads the middle out of its complacency while the middle restrains the idiocies of the fringe.

Yet American political debate today is a blood sport. I include myself in this assessment. I honestly believe that President Bush is incompetent, disloyal, criminal, and contemptuous of the values that inspired the nation to fight World War II (and to revolt against King George). I have come to hate him, an emotion I haven’t felt for a president since Nixon, who in comparison was a great statesman, though also a crook.

Is this hatred irrational? No because it has arisen via careful ratiocination: Our president, I need not remind readers, has squandered not only the wealth of our nation, but our formerly high moral perch. As Bill Clinton (whom I wish good health) helped lead a moral decline by repeatedly rationalizing and so justifying unforgivable sleaze—he really does know what “is” and “have sex” mean—so President Bush lowers the standards for all the nations of the world by his Whatever I Think I Can Get Away With war policies.

Enter the new book by Senator Bob Graham, Intelligence Matters, released this week. The multiple meanings of the title are apt: Is the president too stupid to know what’s good for this country, or is he so surrounded by yes-men that he has no chance to govern rationally?

Many have made hay over the president’s connections to Saudi Arabia. Sen. Graham lights it aflame: the White House classified the portions of a Congressional inquiry into 9/11 that documented official support from Saudi Arabia for the hijackers. The inquiry determined that Omar al-Bayoumi and Osama Bassan, both major funders of the attacks, “were working for the Saudi government,” according to a September 5th Miami Herald article about Graham’s book.

The president doesn’t want you to know that. He knows which enemy attacked us, but perhaps because they are his friends and business partners, or perhaps because America has never really seriously tried to so much as temper our addiction to Saudi oil, he has decided to make war on others. On a scapegoat nation that had nothing at all to do with the 9/11 attacks.

Because I believe he is disloyal and ruining the United States of America, I hate President Bush.

I also believe he is waging class warfare against the workers of this country.

Debate is constipated by such hatred and internal warfare. Nevertheless, I want to win.

The only question I can think to ask supporters of the president is to propose a thought experiment:

If President Gore had precisely the record and policies as the current administration — turning surpluses into mind-blowing deficits and waging ill-considered war on everyone but those who attacked us — what would you say about his presidency?

What I find incredible about the whole W phenomenon is the perverse manner in which his PR team has managed to transform what ordinarily are regarded as obvious vices into supposed "virtues".

What is garden variety petty tyranny (to anyone even vaguely familiar with history) is now praised as "moral clarity". Pigheaded dogmatism is supposed to "integrity", while the ability to admit a mistake or change one's view in the light of new developments is now supposed to be a vice.

When bin Laden killed 3,000 innocent people, that was evil. When Bush kills at least 15,000 innocent people (including both Afghanistan and Iraq), this is supposed to demonstrate that he is a courageous leader. Yes, the very same man who evaded military service when he might have fought for the values he now claims to defend by slaughtering people who have nothing to do with the crimes of either bin Laden or Saddam Hussein.

George W. Bush obviously thinks that the universe is exhausted by the contents of his tiny brain. My question is: how can half of the people of the United States support as their leader such an unequivocal example of microencephaly?
09.10.2004 | anon
And perhaps most remarkable, which I expect to address in next week's column, is that the spokesmen for the Commander-in-Chief continue to justify Lt. Bush's blowing off a direct order (to take his physical), because "Alabama didn't fly his kind of jet" or whatever his excuse of the moment is. As if orders should only be followed when junior officers feel they're particularly relevant.

It's almost funny that they're shameless enough not to notice the irony.
09.10.2004 | David L Steinhardt
Is there something so outrageous or dangerous about Anon's comments that there's no name attached? that "it" has to hide? This is very lame indeed!
09.11.2004 | David Walley

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