by Victor Davis Hanson
This is the second of four parts written for Private Papers.
Why the new hysterical hatred?
There are a variety of ways to account for this unhinged hatred detailed in “The new candor about killing George Bush.” Al Gore won the popular vote in the 2000 election. Many Democrats don’t quite understand or perhaps even believe in constitutional republicanism—the votes of the Electoral College on rare occasions outweighing the popular expression of majority will—and thus see Bush as an usurper appointed by a Republican Supreme Court residing over an illicit administration. In their view illegitimate Presidents do not deserve measured criticism within legitimate and traditional parameters.
It is also an election year in a polarized nation. Should the Republicans win, not only will the executive and legislative branches remain under the aegis of conservatives, but also as many as three or four Supreme Court appointments will be made in the next two or three years, changing the ideological complexion of the judiciary for decades. Control of the three branches of government would be seen as confirmation that Democratic liberalism continues to lose public support. Who wouldn’t be desperate and shrill when confronted with that unprecedented realignment?
In addition, Democrats other than Howard Dean were mostly silent after the three-week victory in Iraq. Yet the subsequent rocky occupation and reconstruction have re-ignited the old anti-war protest mantras of the 1960s, bringing back the likes of a Noam Chomsky, Daniel Ellsberg, Ralph Nader, and Robert Scheer to castigate Iraq as the new Vietnam, and George Bush as another Richard Nixon. Much of the venomous opposition to George Bush’s Iraq war, then, is not that it is inherently immoral in the manner that ANSWER or Not in Our Name alleged in their initial opposition; but that, unlike a year ago, it appears not to be going as well as promised and therefore offers the potential to galvanize grassroots opposition. Kerry has flipped-flopped repeatedly on Iraq; close examination of his mercurial comments would show that he has supported his past votes in favor of removing Saddam when ongoing events in Iraq bode well (3-week victory or capture of Saddam), while protesting that he was also always opposed in spirit to the operation—when American casualties mount or beheadings are broadcast worldwide.
Bush hatred is said also to involve the personality of the President himself. The Texas drawl—Americans in their long history have neverbefore elected a Republican with a southern accent as either President or Vice President—NASCAR conservatism, embrace of bible-belt Christianity, occasional inarticulateness, and deliberate snubbing of the east coast liberal elite are force multipliers of the Bush administrative agenda, contributing to the current caricature of an anti-intellectual, hyper-religious, red-neck American leadership.
Yet despite the general politics of the day and specific personal calculus of George W. Bush, there are still larger undercurrents that help explain this fury of Leftist resentment. Hating Bush the man is yet another symptom, but still not properly the disease itself.
“The Perfect Storm” explores what festers in our society tomorrow when we present “Part Three: The wages of postmodernism…”.
©2004 Victor Davis Hanson