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Learning to Love to Hate (Newt started it!) - gag
The New York Times Magazine ^ | 10/26/03 | JAMES TRAUB

Posted on 10/24/2003 1:54:21 PM PDT by Pokey78

Scrutiny of the New York Times best-seller list discloses a new and important trend: Bush-hating has eclipsed Clinton-, Democrat- and liberal-elite-hating. There's Bill O'Reilly, liberal-hater in chief at Fox News, at the No. 2 slot; but Michael Moore's ''Dude, Where's My Country?'' sits on top of the greasy pole, while Al Franken's ''Lies (and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them)'' occupies the No. 3 spot. Molly Ivins's ''Bushwhacked'' is farther down, as is David Corn's ''Lies of George W. Bush,'' a register of alleged mendacity so relentless that it puts one in mind of Mary McCarthy's famous gibe at Lillian Hellman: ''Every word she writes is a lie, including 'and' and 'the.' '' And Jonathan Chait, a centrist who backed the war in Iraq, has given new legitimacy to the genre with a recent Bush-hating confessional of his own in a cover article for The New Republic.

For those of us of hopelessly moderate temperament, dipping into the inky depths of these volumes offers something of the wicked and barely licit pleasures of a Victoria's Secret catalogue. I had forgotten, for example, until David Corn reminded me, that President Bush contemptuously dismissed his own E.P.A.'s 268-page study admitting that global warming posed a grave threat to this country by saying, ''I read the report put out by the bureaucracy.'' Hatred is delicious. But the sudden rash of jeremiads and their stunning popularity raises a question: Why are so many liberals, including sane and sober ones, granting themselves permission to hate the president? And this in turn is related to a political question: How is it that Howard Dean has built a (so far) wildly successful campaign for the Democratic nomination for president on ressentiment?

There are obvious ideological answers to this question. The liberal answer is that George Bush is a craven, lazy, hypocritical nitwit. The conservative answer is that liberals are being driven crazy by the fact that Bush is so popular with Americans, and thus by the realization that anyone to the left of center is utterly marginal. And then there is the generalized, nonpartisan lament that the public arena has become so vulgarized and polarized and Jerry Springerized that everyone is now at everyone else's throat. O tempora! O mores!

The problem with this last view is precisely that it's nonpartisan. Our political culture has not been infected by some virus from outer space, or from TV. The carrier was Newt Gingrich. Now, I know perfectly well that Democrats like Teddy Kennedy did a fair job of dehumanizing Robert Bork in his 1987 Supreme Court hearings. But Gingrich brought delegitimation to the core of G.O.P. strategy. It was Gingrich who destroyed House Speaker Jim Wright in 1989, and Gingrich who advised Republicans to always affix adjectives like ''pathetic,'' ''sick'' and ''corrupt'' when referring to Democrats. Gingrich solemnly told the nation, at the 1992 Republican National Convention, that the Democratic Party ''rejects the lessons of American history, despises the values of the American people and denies the basic goodness of the American nation.'' And along with Trent Lott, Tom DeLay and Dick Armey, Gingrich labored mightily to bring down President Clinton, first through Whitewater and then through the Starr report and the impeachment proceedings.

The politics of delegitimation worked, at least in the short term. Republicans gained control of both houses of Congress in 1994, old-line moderates like Bob Dole were forced to the right, evangelical conservatives were mobilized, right-wing think tanks and media outlets waxed fat and Bill Clinton was very nearly run from office. Today's Republican Party is arguably the most extreme -- the furthest from the center -- of any governing majority in the nation's history. But the poisons that Gingrich and others released into the atmosphere also turned out to sicken many voters. And so George Bush ran for President as a ''compassionate conservative'' and ''a uniter, not a divider.''

Bush has not, of course, been a uniter. His most important domestic policy initiative by far, his massive tax cuts, received only token Democratic support and catered to his own party's most doctrinaire wing. The same is plainly true of the administration's environmental, regulatory and energy policies. He has made a theologically inspired conservative, John Ashcroft, his attorney general. And yet because he is so good-humored, so light-hearted, so devoid of personal animus, he is still able to offer himself as an antidote to divisiveness. And this, I think, does drive a great many Democrats crazy. Many of the ''lies'' recounted in ''The Lies of George W. Bush'' aren't untruths so much as artful repositionings designed to disguise raw partisanship as selfless patriotism. (Though there are quite a few actual fibs as well.)

Liberals, and liberalism itself, got blitzed by Newt Gingrich and his minions a decade ago. But as President Bush himself likes to say, ''Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.'' And so liberals are fighting back against Bush with the same vitriol that has been dumped on them. Buying a book that has ''Bush'' and ''lie'' in the title, or even shaking your fist at a Howard Dean rally, is a deeply cathartic, ideology-affirming experience.

It's satisfying; but I don't see how it can be a good thing, either for public debate or ultimately for the electoral prospects of the Democrats, to have liberals descend to the level of rabid conservatives. Maybe Al Franken has the right idea, since ''Liars'' is not so much an actual diatribe as a sly parody of conservative extremism. Anybody heard a good John Ashcroft joke?

TOPICS: Culture/Society; Editorial; Government; News/Current Events; Politics/Elections
KEYWORDS: barf; hatespeech; liberalbias; newtbashing; technicoloryawn

1 posted on 10/24/2003 1:54:21 PM PDT by Pokey78
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To: Pokey78
This guy is pathetic. Hate started long before Gingrich. Ronald Reagan was the first Republican President that elicited visceral hate from Democrats. Before that, Presidents were always viewed respectfully by the opposition. But Democrats could not believe that Reagan won, and carried Republicans into office at the same time. Why do you think that Democrats across the nation cheered when Hinckley shot him? I have two documented instances of that -- one at Columbia University, where a class of students and their professor all cheered wildly when someone breathlessly entered and (mistakenly) shouted that Reagan had been assassinated!

I also recall the Patricia Schroeder hated Reagan for years. Called him the Teflon President; called him a moron; etc.

Claiming that the hate started with Gingrich is outright wrong.

2 posted on 10/24/2003 2:02:36 PM PDT by tom h
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To: tom h
Ronald Reagan was the first Republican President that elicited visceral hate from Democrats.

You must be too young to remember Nixon.
And they started in on him in the fifties.

3 posted on 10/24/2003 2:09:30 PM PDT by eddie willers
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To: Pokey78
Would the author please explain the history of the verb to "Bork"?
4 posted on 10/24/2003 2:32:54 PM PDT by nevergiveup (We CAN do it!)
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To: eddie willers
You must be too young to remember Nixon. And they started in on him in the fifties.

You took my words away. For Traub, the Times, Daschle and most other Dems, it is important that History be defined as starting with Gingrich and after Eisenhower, Nixon, Tower, Bork, Thomas, Scalia, etc.

George W. Bush came to Washington to return integrity to the U.S. Presidency and extended his hand to Democrats, exclaiming he wanted to change the tone in Washington, meeting with Democrats immediately upon taking office after a truncated transition period (Clinton didn't meet with Congressional Republicans for seven weeks), downplaying the damage done and items stolen by his predecessors, patting Daschle on the shoulder in a manly hug, inviting Kennedy to the White House to watch movies and push the education agenda. And what did Dems do? They bite Dubya's extended hand. Clinton had taught them the campaign season never ends.

It's Tora, Tora, Tora forever. Not exactly what voters want to see, however. So it's probably Sayonara, Kamikazes! Don't let the D.C. door hit you in the cockpit!

5 posted on 10/24/2003 2:43:13 PM PDT by OESY
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To: eddie willers
"You must be too young to remember Nixon.
And they started in on him in the fifties"

My personal memories do not go back this far but Herbert Hoover was hated by the dims and a great number of people who called themselves Republicans..
6 posted on 10/24/2003 2:47:11 PM PDT by Graybeard58
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To: Pokey78; Perlstein; Howlin; remember; holdonnow
"The liberal answer is that George Bush is a craven, lazy, hypocritical nitwit."

That's not much of an answer.

"Craven" just means "Afraid" or "cowardly." Landing on an aircraft carrier and giving speeches in terrorist-hotbeds like Malaysia will hardly cause the mainstream American public to associate President bush with "cowardly."

Nor will the public at large think that Bush is lazy. He jogs for miles each day. He is disciplined and punctual. He has passed two income tax cuts, won two wars, armed pilots, killed the estate tax, eliminated the double tax on dividends, and is currently responsible for getting our ABM system built in Alaska and California. That is definitely **not** lazy. Even liberals admit that Bush is a prolific fundraiser, something that a lazy man would find exhaustive.

So like I said above, the liberals' answer is poor.

As are their chances in elections against us.

7 posted on 10/24/2003 2:47:25 PM PDT by Southack (Media bias means that Castro won't be punished for Cuban war crimes against Black Angolans in Africa)
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Comment #8 Removed by Moderator

To: OESY; Pokey78; tom h; eddie willers; nevergiveup
wait a sec...the DEMONRATS (and ilk) hated the Republican party when it was born . . .
The Republican (abolitionist) Party -- created to fight slavery (and other evils) was opposed by those same kinds of people that cause trouble today . . . think about it.
9 posted on 10/24/2003 2:49:28 PM PDT by yevgenie
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To: tom h
Libs are afraid to look in the mirror at their own ugly, hate-filled image. You only have to go over to DU to see what extreme hate looks like. That also makes them stinking hypocrites as they perpetually tout themselves as people of good will. Bah!
10 posted on 10/24/2003 4:01:52 PM PDT by driftless ( For life-long happiness, learn how to play the accordion.)
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To: yevgenie
Even the "ancients" knew about them. The root for the word sinister is Left....
11 posted on 10/24/2003 4:02:16 PM PDT by JoJo Gunn (Liberalism - Better Living through Histrionics ©)
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To: Pokey78
"Newt said .. [dem party] rejects the lessons of American history, despises the values of the American people and denies the basic goodness of the American nation"

NEWT WAS TELLING THE TRUTH - and that's what they cannot stand.
12 posted on 10/24/2003 4:55:19 PM PDT by CyberAnt
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To: CyberAnt
"NEWT WAS TELLING THE TRUTH - and that's what they cannot stand."

Amen! Amen! I have never heard a democratic position that was not founded on a lie!

Call them Liberals, Leftist, Progressives( Laugh!),even call them Morally challenged if you like.

But I choose to call them what they are; Communist!

13 posted on 10/24/2003 8:48:01 PM PDT by Hillarys nightmare
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To: Pokey78
The Republicans didn't gain the majority in '94 by demonizing anybody. They won it because Gingrich and the sitting Republicans produced a brilliant political coup in the Contract With America.

Politicians can be as bad as actors when it comes to self-absorption. Every one of the clowns thinks "vote for Me" to be more attractive than "vote for these programs." And every one of them is wrong. Even a personality-boy like Clinton found, when it came to it, that programs beat personality, so he did something perfectly Clintonian - he stole the other fellows'!

Hatred and demonizing and political demagoguery are as old as humanity. Compared to the Greeks (Demosthenes) and the Romans (the Catos) and a plethora of cases in American history that called for duels, cane-beatings, and widespread bloodshed, Newt and Carville are rank amateurs.

14 posted on 10/24/2003 8:59:09 PM PDT by Billthedrill
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To: Pokey78
For those of us of hopelessly moderate temperament,

Say what?

15 posted on 10/25/2003 1:42:49 AM PDT by Drango (Defund Pacifica/PBS/NPR)
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To: tom h
Mr. Traub must think we have no memory.

I officially gave up on the possibility of constructive engagement with the left when Jimmy and Rosalyn Carter appeared on 60 minutes in 1985 just before Reagan's second inauguration and told us that Reagan had (paraphrasing) "made it OK to hate and to be a racist again."

Ann Coulter's latest book documents vicious liberal hate going back at least to Alger Hiss, and coming from Harry Truman WHILE he was President.

The thing that drives the left crazy about Newt, and why the Left has turned it up a few notches, especially in the past few years, is that Newt, for all his considerable faults, is indeed the guy who changed the balance of power in Washington, and at least as far as Congress is concerned, it has never changed back.

We are still benefitting from the Republican landslide in 1994. No 1994, no George W. Bush.
16 posted on 10/26/2003 6:31:19 PM PST by litany_of_lies
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