Wednesday, November 14, 2007

The Insanity of Bush Hatred BY PETER BERKOWITZ

The Insanity of Bush Hatred
Our politics suffer when passions overcome reason and vitriol becomes virtue.

November 14, 2007 Opinion Journal (Excerpts)

“Bush hatred is different. It's not that this time members of the intellectual class have been swept away by passion and become votaries of anger and loathing. Alas, intellectuals have always been prone to employ their learning and fine words to whip up resentment and demonize the competition. Bush hatred, however, is distinguished by the pride intellectuals have taken in their hatred, openly endorsing it as a virtue and enthusiastically proclaiming that their hatred is not only a rational response to the president and his administration but a mark of good moral hygiene….

But as at that D.C. dinner in late spring of 2004, so again in early autumn 2007 at dinner following the Princeton panel, several of my progressive colleagues seized upon my remarks against giving oneself over to hatred. And they vigorously rejected the notion. Both a professor of political theory and a nationally syndicated columnist insisted that I was wrong to condemn hatred as a passion that impaired political judgment. On the contrary, they argued, Bush hatred was fully warranted considering his theft of the 2000 election in Florida with the aid of the Supreme Court's decision in Bush v. Gore; his politicization of national security by making the invasion of Iraq an issue in the 2002 midterm elections; and his shredding of the Constitution to authorize the torture of enemy combatants.

Of course, these very examples illustrate nothing so much as the damage hatred inflicts on the intellect. Many of my colleagues at Princeton that evening seemed not to have considered that in 2000 it was Al Gore who shifted the election controversy to the courts by filing a lawsuit challenging decisions made by local Florida county election supervisors. Nor did many of my Princeton dinner companions take into account that between the Florida Supreme Court and the U.S. Supreme Court, 10 of 16 higher court judges--five of whom were Democratic appointees--found equal protection flaws with the recount scheme ordered by the intermediate Florida court.

And they did not appear to have pondered Judge Richard Posner's sensible observation, much less themselves sensibly observe, that while indeed it was strange to have the U.S. Supreme Court decide a presidential election, it would have been even stranger for the election to have been decided by the Florida Supreme Court

As for the 2002 midterm elections, it is true that Mr. Bush took the question of whether to use military force against Iraq to the voters, placing many Democratic candidates that fall in awkward positions. But in a liberal democracy, especially from a progressive point of view, aren't questions of war and peace proper ones to put to the people--as Democrats did successfully in 2006?

And lord knows the Bush administration has blundered in its handling of legal issues that have arisen in the war on terror. But from the common progressive denunciations you would never know that the Bush administration has rejected torture as illegal. And you could easily overlook that in our system of government the executive branch, which has principal responsibility for defending the nation, is in wartime bound to overreach--especially when it confronts on a daily basis intelligence reports that describe terrifying threats--but that when checked by the Supreme Court the Bush administration has, in accordance with the system, promptly complied with the law.

In short, Bush hatred is not a rational response to actual Bush perfidy. Rather, Bush hatred compels its progressive victims--who pride themselves on their sophistication and sensitivity to nuance--to reduce complicated events and multilayered issues to simple matters of good and evil. Like all hatred in politics, Bush hatred blinds to the other sides of the argument, and constrains the hater to see a monster instead of a political opponent.

Prof. Starr shows in "Freedom's Power" that tolerance, generosity, and reasoned skepticism are hallmarks of the truly liberal spirit. His analysis suggests that the problem with progressives who have succumbed to Bush hatred is not their liberalism; it's their betrayal of it.” Peter Berkowitz


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At 10:43 AM, Blogger JJOSPORT said...

What I find missing from the commentary is the divisiveness of the so called "red" and "blue" states brought on by the abject and vocal hatred of anything construed as "liberal" by the Religious Right.

The "liberals" then activiate a defense mechanism by hating Bush.

It's all so very childish and does nothing to move us off center from being the most hated nation on this hurtling rock.

I just returned from a trip to Europe and was surprised that every newspaper had at least one angry letter about the US in it's Letters to the Editor section daily.

I suspect I shouldn't be so surprised.

At 1:26 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

When is it irrational to hate the ignorant and evil?

I hate Bush no less than I would hate a belly full of bad food that has me doubled over and retching.

Is this hate, or is it just the urge for the country to vomit up this deadly and poisonous toxin that is Bush?

Hate is too kind a word.

At 3:38 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Gosh Peter-
I'd think your piece would have been much more appropriately aimed at Bill O'Reilly, Rush Limbaugh and their hate-filled ilk. Karl Rove deserves a dishonorable mention as well. Let's be clear about where this level of discourse began and continues today, everyday. I must admit a level of irrational hatred for the Bush team for what they've done to my country's finances, reputation, and many of its young people's lives, not to mention the tens of thousands of innocent Iraqis who've perished by no fault of their own.

The more appropriate question, Peter, is this: Is verbal hatred even strong enough? How about some criminal convictions and maybe a good execution or two? I can start a list of candidates if you'd like...

At 3:42 PM, Blogger RussWilcox said...

Some of these comments certainly illustrate exactly what Dr. Berkowitz addresses in his article. Thank God George Bush is President and not any of these destructive haters.

At 3:43 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

How in the world does the WSJ editorial board let you publish this drivel! Do you spend all day thinking about the most abjectly idiotic arguments to use to bash Democrats and non-Republicans? They, and you, are looking more and more like senseless shills for the GOP. Get a clue!

At 3:46 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey RussWilcox-
How many friends and family members have you lost to the war? Maybe a reality check would do you some good. It's awfully easy to call anyone who disagrees with Bush a hater, but an awful lot of people have made major sacrifices because of his lying/mis-interpreting/cowboying. I suspect you'd feel differently if you were one of us too.

At 4:17 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I suspect, Peter, that you were not out on the hustings defending Clinton (s) when they were on the receiving end of the hating. I don't think your academic credentials are worth one thin dime if you cannot acknowledge that Rove method of 50+ % has created this acrimony. The Bush performance tells me and apparently quite a few (majority?) of others that Bush and his ilk bloody well deserve their targeted hatred. It should last a generation notwithstanding the obtuse and opaque defenses coming from Hoover and AEI. Hoover now there is a guy along with Nixon who should appreciate Bush--he's made them look downright attractive. Bush like another Republican mediocrity Harding will leave his sad mark.

At 4:18 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have to admit, many of Mr. Berkowitz's arguments are valid. This same argument could have been made 10 years ago when all the Clinton haters were issuing their rhetoric and likewise 20 years ago with the Reagan haters.

If you hate President Bush that is fine, hate him. But recognize that your hate along with everything that I have read posted here is of no use to the national debate. And the same goes to the Limbaughs and Coulters and their ignorant followers too.

I voted for Bush in both elections, which I openly admit was a mistake. But do I hate hime? I don't hate the President; I think he is an idiot at times and a poor leader most of the time, but hate? Come on people grow up!

Of course, my vote didn't mean squat in the ludicrous electoral system we have since I cast my vote in the grand state of California. Unfortunately, I live in NC now and though my political tendencies have shifted I fear I'll find myself in the same electoral quagmire again.
If you really want something to hate, hate the process we have for electing our President.

At 4:26 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

BERKOWITZ seems to try to convince his readers he's right. He's RIGHT(winged) but that's about the only thing he's correct about.

BERKOWITZ can join Bush to find the "evil doers" and while he's at it, may as well find: "GOP voter doers," "oil refinery doers," "Halliburton Supporter Doers," "delusional doers" & "Paranoia Doers."

At 5:58 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

These comments just about mirror those of the public at large. The hatred Rove et al. aimed at the Clintons is being reflected back on this administration and with just cause.

At 6:11 PM, Blogger RussWilcox said...

President Bush won reelction with majorities in over 80% of the counties across the U.S.A.

At 6:47 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's a perfect example of lying with statistics. We don't vote by counties in the U.S.. Bush won the 2004 election with 50.7% of the popular vote and a 35 vote margin in the electoral college. Since then, his total disregard for the constitution has turned the majority of the electorate against him.

At 7:01 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Its simple. The severity of the animosity is a direct correlate of the severity of the damage done to the country. To its reputation, its military, economic policies, etc. Should be no surprise that there is terrific hatred here.
And as pointed out nicely in The Black Swan, the electroic media and internet amplifies the collective opinion of the country.

At 7:13 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I find it very interesting . Of all of the disenting replies all I have been able to decipher are innuendos, name calling and irrationalility. The only one that had a modicome of righteouness is the one that hate is not just the perveiw of the liberal left...I was just as annoyed at the time wasted in trying to impeach Clinton...time taken away from the time that should have been spent addressing the needs of the nation. Unfortunately this same thing is continuing in the present Democratic congress,,,even the stupid candidates that are presently bashing Bush...will someone tell them that Bush is not running in the next election. I am sick and tired of the dumb liberals that are still saying Bush Lied about WMD...time and again that has proven to be the best intelligence...if he lied so did Clinton...both of them and all of the front runners in the present race,,,,,the courts have exonerated any election fraud...but perhaps they haven't read about it....please ...please be informed about what you say sound like a bunch of grade schoolers in a shouting matcth..where is your sense of honesty???? I have always had a philosopy about discourse...." don't be self righteous when you have thee truth but explain your view with honest discoure....but woe to the man who is self righteous about half-truths and and deceptive lies, pity him for he will never find the truth

At 7:25 PM, Blogger RussWilcox said...

I'm glad you noticed that, as usual, the leftists ignored the facts and reasoning laid out by the author and fell back on their Bush hatred. Someday President Bush will be recognized for saving Western Civilization; however, many leftists do not believe that it is worth saving.

At 7:26 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Incidently ..your newly elected Democratic Congress has a far lower approval rating that President Bush...American people are tired of all of the nonsense of the liberal why don't you wake up and establish a working and logical platform that has some substance,,I'd like to have a choice in the next election...please provide one

At 7:18 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

These unintelligent looking mean spirited people holding signs, are just a small minority of the clear thinking majority in this country. Sure,--nobody likes war, but we are in it because a group of Islamo Fascists came over here and murdered 3000 of our people. What difference does it make if Iraq never attacked us? The fact of the matter is; Saddam needed taking out, and terrorists from other countries are trying to take over the whole Middle East and we are killing these terrorists in Iraq, not on our soil. The surge is working, and we are winning in Iraq. This president is a leader. Now,--if some of you whining Lefties don't like that, then lump it. God Bless President Bush, and bring on another conservative leader who isn't afraid to fight for this great country of ours! Liberals needn't apply!

At 9:07 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I laughed out loud reading most of these comments. Come on people, get a grip! Your hatred hurts no one but yourselves. And I'm talking about hatred of Bush and of Congress alike. What ever happened to all of us being Americans--not leftists, not right-wingers, but Americans? Personally, I'll define myself by my nationality and membership in the human race, not by my political leanings. Those of you who expressed your vitriol are welcome to your opinion, but you must know how childish your rantings make you sound. Like I said, they made me laugh out loud.

At 10:13 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm sorry, but I get tired of the whiners who hate Bush. If you have to dislike this President for signing the McCain Feingold Bill, or for his favor in pushing the Law of the Sea Treaty, and even the fact that he isn't doing anything on securing our borders that's one thing that I could agree with anyone on. But, two weeks ago I listened to this young guy shoot off his mouth about Bush being stupid, and "How come Bush never wanted to fly jets when he was in the service?" What a crock of Bologna! Then he tells me that he's a staunch Democrat and would never switch parties, no matter what. I told him that I don't have a party and if I voted for a Democrat, it would have to be someone like Zell Miller, whom I admire. He also told me that he loves firearms and hunting deer. So my question is; Does this guy even know that most Liberal Democrats like Kerry and Kennedy have been trying to take his guns away from him for years? Does he know that Kerry alone voted for over fifty anti-gun bills? This guy is and ex-Marine and seemed like a nice guy, but he talks like he's brain dead.

At 7:52 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Perhaps Prof. Berkowitz is right, and "hatred" is too raw and unrefined and too predisposed to interfere with critical thinking. I would describe my sentiments toward our president as: "a highly-informed abhorrence and deeply-felt enmity." How's that, Prof. Berkowitz?

TK. Windermere, FL

At 4:20 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What amazes me in all of the things said about President Bush, very little of the vitriol is based on substance. It is always about some 10 second sound bite that was said on the news a year ago and just keeps getting repeated over and over. Or it is something completely unrelated like "Bush caused Global Warming" or "My children have cavities because of President Bush". If you disagree with his policy choices or even his world view, that is fine. But he is a POLITICAL leader, why not keep the discourse to political matters. I can't wait for him to leave office just so people will quit using him like the Boogey Man and blame all the worlds problems on him. Get a life and some personal responsibility and stop your whining already.


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