Kinsley On Bush Hatred

Michael Kinsley has an interesting column on libral hatred of Bush in Time magazine. It is an interesting view of the liberal mindset, although I think there’s something deeper involved. However, let’s dissect Kinsley’s arguments first.

So why are liberals so angry? Here is a view from inside the beast: it’s Bush as a person and his policies as well. To start, we do think he stole the election. Yes, yes, we’re told to "get over it", and we’ve been pretty damned gracious. But we can’t help it: this still rankles. What rankles especially is Bush’s almost total lack of grace about the extraordinary way he took office. Theft aside, he indisputably got fewer votes than the other guy, our guy. We expected some soothing bipartisan balm. There was none, even after 9/11. (Would it have been that hard to appoint a Democrat as head of Homeland Security, in a "bring us together" spirit?)

Even if Bush had done so, and there are some Democrats who would be well qualified (Gary Hart comes to mind). However, Bush worked with Sen. Ted Kennedy on the education bill, made efforts to reach out to Democrats, and tried to build a bipartisan consensus on issues such as campaign finance reform. For a President that has never once vetoed a bill, even ones that he should have like McCain-Feingold, it’s hard to argue that Bush hasn’t tried to reach out across party lines. However, each time the Democrats have only stepped up their attacks.

We also thought that Bush’s apparent affability, and his lack of knowledge or strong views or even great interest in policy issues, would make him temperate on the ideological thermometer. (Psst! We also thought, and still think, he’s pretty dumb — though you’re not supposed to say it and we usually don’t. And we thought that this too would make him easier to swallow.) It turns out, though, that Bush’s, um, unreflectiveness shores up his ideological backbone. An adviser who persuades Bush to adopt Policy X does not have to be worried that our President will keep turning it over in his mind, monitoring its progress, reading and thinking about the complaints of its critics, perhaps even re-examining it on the basis of subsequent developments, and announce one day that he prefers Policy Y. This does not happen. He knows what he thinks, and he has to be told it only once.

Oh really? So Bush doggedly sticks to every policy – except when he doesn’t. The left is currently criticizing Bush for not having a plan for Iraq – as Jonathan Rauch points out in The National Journal Bush’s policy in Iraq is one of pragmatic flexibility. It was clear that Jay Garner wasn’t adept enough at post-war administration so he was replaced by Paul Bremer. Now the White House is creating a new task force to deal directly with the civilian reconstruction. That’s hardly a sign of inflexibility, but a realization that certain policies didn’t work and others did. It’s clear that Bush has significantly rewritten the rules of engagement for terrorism, and embraced the concept of nation building despite his earlier opposition to nation building during the 2000 campaign. Again, Kinsley’s argument boils down to a series of fallacies of exclusion that justifies Kinsley’s partisan hatred.

Kinsley finishes with this observation which cuts closer to the heart of the issue:

Screaming powerlessly at a defenseless television set is a metaphor for the sense of powerlessness that unites these elements in liberal rage. In the 1980s, liberals nursed the fear that we really might be dwelling in an irrelevant cul-de-sac outside of the majority American culture. That kept us sullen and mopey. Today we feel that our side got the most votes, and it didn’t matter. This man then sold a war to the country based on fictions, and it didn’t matter. It didn’t even matter if he hadn’t made the sale, since he mainly asserted the right to invade another country. And Krauthammer is right: we didn’t think he had the heart or the brains for anything like this. It’s maddening.

Bush hatred is based fundamentally on the arrogance of the left. It drives leftists insane that someone whom they consider a tactless, stupid, cowboy Texan is beating them and beating them badly. 2000 could be dismissed as a fluke (even though the jurisprudence of Bush v. Gore is nowhere near as bad as its political consequences are made to be).

But after September 11, the left found their ideology on the wrong side of world events. The events of September 11 awakened America’s Jacksonian impulses which stand in opposition to the transnational progressivism of the left. The left is an ideology born in the 1960’s in which patriotism was at best passe and at worse emblematic of everything the left hates. Bush not only was able to beat them at their own game by advancing a conservative agenda for issues like education and Social Security. With terrorism becoming the foremost issue on the national consciousness it was clear that the left was in danger of becoming ideological marginalized.

The response was to unleash of barrage of criticism at Bush – in essence, the left is suffering from a massive case of cognitive dissonance. They believe that Bush is both an idiot and the worst thing since Hitler because it justifies their worldview. If Bush is an idiot it gives them a feeling of intellectual superiority, and if he’s Hitler it makes them feel like rightous moral crusaders.

The problem with all of this is that it creates a situation in which the Democrats now don’t view the world based on any sense of objective reality. They hate the PATRIOT Act, so everyone else should hate it too. They hate Bush, so everyone hates Bush too. They’re facing the BYOB factor – the kind of detachment from reality that happens when you begin to Believe Your Own Bullshit. Right now they think the economy is going to plunge into a recession and Iraq will fall apart. In fact, they want those things to happen because they will both hurt Bush regardless of the fact that millions of people would also be hurt in the process.

The Democrats have to realize that the rest of the country doesn’t think like a coastal liberal, and that the dirtier they get the worse they look. If the only thing the Democratic Party has to offer the country in a critical time is partisan rancor then they should be prepared for a return of 1972, 1984, and 2002.

15 thoughts on “Kinsley On Bush Hatred

  1. Funny how you say “Bush has never vetoed a bill”. Given that he’s had a universally Republican Congress all but 13 months of his Presidency, he hasn’t had the need to veto. Agreeing with the bills that come out of a Republican Congress doesn’t necessarily mean Bush is “reaching out to Democrats” except on issues like campaign finance reform where it would be political suicide for him to toe the Tom DeLay line.

    As for Bush hatred, you’re right that it’s not gonna play except among Democratic partisans since the average American is too ill-informed, if not necessarily stupid, to comprehend how Bush is destroying their future. When it takes as many stunning missteps as George Bush has made to dip his approval rating to under 50%, it signifies an outrage deficit among a public still “fat and lazy” with a pre-September 11 mindset. The constant drum-beating by yourself and the GOP about how we should never hold a Republican President accountable for anything ever again because “this is the post-September 11 world” is still having some impact on a careless electorate, however.

    Furthermore, any talk from the right about “Bush hate” has to be taken with a grain of salt since to this day, 90% of conservatives still can’t go three sentences without spewing venom about Clinton. It was pretty much a two-week celebration after the Clintons’ dog Buddy was run over by a car, which seemed to elate right-wingers even more than budget-busting tax cuts did. For this same crowd to now be tsk, tsk, tsking about the left hating Bush would be laughable if their own hatred for everything liberal and everything Clinton wasn’t so cartoonlishly intense.

  2. Not every one hates Bush: Oussama Ben Laden loves him (and not just out of former business propinquity: there’s also idolatrous worshipping too…).

  3. Since you have nothing constructive to add to the debate, I will ask that you go elsewhere. You’ve already been warned and banned for trolling before, and this sort of behavior will not be tolerated.

  4. “The Democrats have to realize that the rest of the country doesn’t think like a coastal liberal, and that the dirtier they get the worse they look.”

    I’ve noticed, over the years, this Republican tendency to make liberalism sound like some elitist, coastal ideology… which seems completely asinine to me. I’m a fifth-generation South Dakotan, my entire family is made up of liberal democrats, whether of the New Deal generation of my grandparents, the McGovern populists of my parent’s time, or the centrist Clinton Democrats of my generation. South Dakota may be 49% Republican, but we’re still 36% Democratic. Need I mention that Dems hold registration advantage in Minnesota?

    It also seems to me that Democrats consistently rule the nicest, most prosperous parts of the country. New England? Stronghold of democrats and moderate republicans. Minnesota and Wisconsin? Check. Washington, Oregon, Northern California? Check. All the coolest cities are Dem strongholds- Boston, Seattle, Portland, Minneapolis, New York, San Francisco, etc. When the best you’ve got going for you is Dallas and Atlanta, and when the states that are consistently ranked last in the nation on most indicators (oh, like South Dakota, Mississippi, and Wyoming) are typically ruled by solid Republican majorities, can’t you help but wonder what you’re doing wrong?

    Face it- the real America is Liberal. Sorry to break it to you, man…

  5. Actually Minnesota on the whole is not a Democratic strong hold.

    Independant and Republican parties hold most of outstate Minnesota. The Iron Range because of unions is still largely democrat and as usual a large part of the metro area is still democrat, but small inroads are being made on that arena.

    Minnesota is definately starting to “shift” it’s status. Especially after the Wellstone memorial, borderline democrats decided they were unhappy with the way things were going. That day the independant party gained alot of ground.

    And actually it appears that the most extremist of the coastals do control the democrates and the inland democrates spend a great deal of time moderating the coastal influence.

    Examples of coatal Democrats, Kennedy, Byrd and Feinstein. How much time do you think the inland dems spend on damage control for that contingent?

    The real America is not liberal…that is only a one sided viewpoint. I’m a real American and I’m not liberal nor am I a conservative, I’m an Independant. Most of “real America” is niether liberal or conservative. They are somewhere in between.

  6. Suburban sprawl is almost entirely responsible for Minnesota’s rightward shift of the past five years. I suspect that the fallout of “offended” swing voters in places like Blaine and Brooklyn Park following the Wellstone Memorial constituted the 2002 GOP sweep. Polls in November 2002 showed that more Minnesotans identified themselves as Republicans than Democrats for the first time in decades, but polls since have verified that more traditional party affiliation patterns have resurfaced, giving the donks an average of 8 points of identification advantage.

    As far as rural Minnesota being solidly Republican, that’s a myth. Even in 2002, the 76 counties that collectively make up non-metro area Minnesota voted Walter Mondale for Senate, Buck Humphrey for Secretary of State, Carol Johnson for Auditor, and Mike Hatch for Attorney General. Three of these four candidates lost statewide because of the GOP’s strong performance in the other 11 counties. The only statewide GOP candidate to win in Greater Minnesota was Tim Pawlenty, and he probably wouldn’t have won there if not for Tim Penny’s strong performance in southern and western Minnesota which took away likely Moe votes. The Republicans do have an advantage in rural Minnesota in terms of legislators, but their dominance looks like a fluke when you break down the races district by district and discover that the GOP skated by in the vast majority of the contested races, but with less than overwhelming margins. It would surprise me if the GOP House supermajority wasn’t narrowed by at least 10 seats in 2004.

    I expect the already DFL-leaning Greater Minnesota to grow even more so in the wake of Tim Pawlenty torching and pillaging the area with his vicious budget that is causing extraordinary pain in rural communities already hemorrhaging because of the recession. I have talked to scores of lifelong Republicans from rural Minnesota who simply can’t bring themselves to condone the geographical genocide that has become their party’s modus operandi in the early 21st century. Simply put, farmers and socially conservatives working folks in rural Minnesota are finding they have more in common with their urban Democratic counterparts than the yuppies with six-figure incomes in Plymouth, Eden Prairie and Woodbury who now compose the GOP’s primary constituency in Minnesota.

    By the way, Robert Byrd is not a coastal Democrat. West Virginia is completely landlocked. He is also not known to be particularly liberal and votes with his party on fewer occasions than nearly any other Senate Democrats. Barbara Boxer would have been a better example of some sort of “lunatic fringe Democrat” than Dianne Feinstein, who is also considered quite moderate.

    You are right that most Americans are neither liberal or conservative, but “somewhere in between.” On the surface, that may seem like a good thing, but it’s a decidedly “mushy middle,” occupied by people who lack either the intelligence or the motivation to follow the political issues that impact their lives so greatly. I’m not accusing you of fitting this profile for being a moderate, but I am accusing most of the “swing voters” of fitting this profile.

    Nicholas, you make an excellent point that’s hard for GOPers to refute. States with the highest standards of living lean Democrat and embrace liberalism to some extent. Minnesota and Wisconsin’s most liberal days are in their past since they’ve transformed into “new money Grand Central” in recent years, but Iowa has taken the baton as the most liberal Midwestern state in recent years. Meanwhile, it seems that with little exception, the more Republican a state is, the more likely it is to be found on the bottom of quality of life surveys. This reality should not be wasted on states like Minnesota and Wisconsin which are undeniably trending right, but will hopefully recognize that the cost of disinvestment has taken a toll on other states who have embraced it, and is likely to take its toll here as well.

  7. I disagree with the mushy middle position, frankly because the 2 major parties are not exactly “hitting” the constituency. People end up voting just “something” that is close to what they believe because there isn’t as viable a 3rd party as there should be. It’s come close several times. But the “dirty politics” of the estabished parties cuts down on the number of people who are willing to be put through the meat grinder.

    Hopefully Tim Penny will stand up again for the Indies, if not him another who is worthy will show up.

    But to tell you the truth, if the outstate repubs turn, they will probably turn indie before dem. As long as the indies can promote quality people like Penny, you will see a switch, but not the direction you are anticipating.

    The silver spoon of Humprey turns ALOT of greater Minnesotoans off and it’s been felt that Mondale is history. Wellstone was the only legit dem holding the attention of most of the outstate.

    As far as examples, you are probably right on my choices, I was posting fast on my break. But after I listened to Bryd being a rear end on c span the other day. I think he needs to move to a coastal state. ^.~

  8. This nation is liberal, if you exclude issues like national security, social issues, taxation, and pretty much every issue. The fact is that the nation is trending towards a moderate form of conservatism, which is why big government throwbacks like Mondale are losing.

    Note that the places where Democrats are in charge are also the ones with the most dysfunctional governments, decaying schools, higher tax burdens, increased bureaucracy, and more social problems. Compare that to states like Colorado where the taxpayers passed the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (TABOR) amendment. While other states are deep in deficit, Colorado is doing fine, they didn’t have to cut service, and they didn’t have to raise taxes.

    Moreover, it isn’t solely a partisan issue. I would be perfectly find having a Democrat in office who was committed to fiscal responsibility as Gov. Granholm has done in Michigan or Gov. Bredesen has done in Tennessee.

  9. For the record, I’m no fan of “big-government” leftists, either. I consider myself a libertarian centrist, and if I lived in Minnesota I would almost certainly be with the Independence Party. But on social issues, I’m about as liberal as they come. And if the nation is “tending to the right”, this is only a temporary setback before the massive social changes that will likely be brought on by industrial automation, biotechnology, nanotechnology, dramatic life-extension, and full-immersion VR completely destroy all of our old notions about morality, social organization, and what it means to be human (or transhuman, more likely). But that’s neither here nor there, and getting very off the topic…

  10. “Note that the places where Democrats are in charge are also the ones with the most dysfunctional governments, decaying schools, higher tax burdens, increased bureaucracy, and more social problems.”

    Like South Dakota, where our closed one-party government kept Bill Janklow in charge for decades, where our rural school systems can barely keep running with teacher pay at it’s lowest levels in the nation, taxes that force the burden unto the poor and the addicted, a massive prison bureaucracy and the highest incarceration rate in the country, and a reservation population that just continues to stagnate while our young people continue to leave?

    Oh, wait a second- we’re run by Republicans!

  11. In the case of South Dakota, the balance between the parties is way off… personally, getting rid of that bastard Janklow and actually having to compete for elections would be a great thing. One-party or one-governor dominance isn’t healthy – be it with the Republicans in South Dakota or the Democrats in California.

    Trust me, I’ll never forgive Janklow for causing me to have to vote Democrat. (Hell, I even gave money to Stephanie Herseth, although I had to take a shower afterwards…)

  12. Emma, there are truly informed moderates out there who simply don’t agree with either party’s positions, but I can assure you from experience in talking with hundreds of people that most of the “centrist” voters put a low priority on politics and a high priority on NASCAR and/or Christmas shopping.

    I won’t discount the pull of the Independence Party in a state like Minnesota, where the two main parties are at least perceived to represent the extremist fringe of both political spectrums. Nationally, however, I can’t imagine a scenario where a third party could ever be competitive long-term. If they have a celebrity candidate like Jesse Ventura or Ralph Nader, or a deep-pocketed self-financed campaigner like Ross Perot, there may be isolated circumstances of third-party competitiveness and even victories, but the nature of the system leaves little pull for cowboys as nearly every independent representative discovers in the rare circumstances where he or she is put into a position of power.

    The idea of multiple parties is not particularly appealing to me anyway. Of all the horror stories we hear about how awful things are in Europe, one aspect of European society I do not want to see is fragmented government. The fact that our last three presidential elections have failed to produce majority government is a strong indication that we’re trending that way even without dominant long-term third or fourth parties. Empowerment of extra parties makes that unsavory trend more likely to be repeated.

    As for Tim Penny, he was my representative as a boy. I never cared for him much, and would have actually preferred Republican Dave Durenburger over Penny since DD had a better voting record on issues important to me than then Democratic Party. With that said, he was always a straight shooter while in Congress, but has been a political opportunist in the years since. Even so, I was prepared to vote for Penny for Governor last fall because I thought he had the most practical approach to balancing the state budget, and because of Roger Moe’s self-serving alignment with Pawlenty in the previous legislative session, sweeping the impending budget crisis under the rug in an effort to weaken Ventura and help his own campaign for Governor. Penny’s meltdown at the end of the campaign forced me to vote for Moe, however, and I think Penny’s record-setting plunge in the polls is indicative of my theory on third parties. Without a celebrity candidate or any sense of real unity in the party, third parties always seem to fade into the oblivion.

    As for the Democrats, Mike Hatch and Judi Dutcher stand out as top prospects for the party. Granted, they need to do better, and I think one guy that may be a rising star is the youthful freshman Dan Sparks from my old state Senate district, who seems to have a pretty universal appeal. Senator Mark Dayton is pretty low-profile, compared to Minnesota’s junior Senator who never misses an opportunity to get noticed by anyone willing to listen, but Dayton did well in both metro and rural Minnesota in 2000. Granted, the GOP could have Dayton by the balls on the oil drilling in Alaska versus constructing a new power plant on the Iron Range issue conundrum they’ve cooked up. It’ll be interested to see which side of the issue he’ll take on that, if he’s forced to make the choice. Humphrey and Mondale are both has-beens so I don’t even consider them a factor.

    As it stands, the Dems still have a slight advantage in Minnesota, as evidenced by the fact that even in their “landslide” year of 2002, none of the five Republicans running for statewide office was able to get 50% of the vote. However, suburban sprawl will make Democratic victories less guaranteed than they may have been 20 years ago, and margins of victories are likely to be much closer in just about every race.

  13. Ahhh…you mean the BAAAA party. Where instead of a donkey or an elephant they a have a sheep as a mascot.

    Yes, there are alot of sheeple about, but I think alot of people are between the extents we represent.

    I understand, follow and vote to the best of my abilities. But just like football, I don’t memorize everybody’s stats. I look them up when I need to know where they are on an issue.
    From reading your posts you seem to be better at remembering folk’s stats and more well informed than most people, which keeps the rest of us in line.

    Dayton wasn’t one of my picks. I truthfully couldn’t see him actually being….understanding of normal, everyday, working class people.

    I have to laugh about this, have you ever noticed how many high profile democrats are extremely wealthy? Then the dems turn up their noses at the repubs as being corporate money hounds. It’s like so how did you earn YOUR millions? ^.^

    I’m from Penny’s home town (at present)and he has kids that went to school with my kids. I know what a hard decision it really was for him to make to throw his hat back into the ring when he had gotten out. While I would never describe myself as a dem or even admit to voting for one unless he/she was exceptional. I think Penny was very sincere in his bid and like you said he had a practical approach plus a little upset to the big guys never hurts. But, he didn’t have the swagger or charisma needed to maintain control of the voters.

    I think shenanigan’s will play a bigger role in upsetting and making gains for the different parties in the coming elections than ever before. It seems that there is a faction that feel they need to use anything they can to gain advantage. The Dems will probably get away with more becasue they don’t pretend moral superiority. But the repubs who, because Bush says he’s so against any shenanigans will probably end up looking bad when over zealous supporters do something stupid and get caught. So the repubs can afford less than the dems in terms of monkey business.

    So in my opinion, shenanigans will play an even bigger part this time around. Who will piss off the most voters? That’s what will determine who gets what. If the best people are placed on the table, what the BAAA party voters will see is the shenanigans and will vote based on that factor not individual merit of candidates.

    (I just realized how bad my spelling and typing actually is when the comments section doesn’t have spell check, so hang with me guys!)

  14. Emma, if you’re from Penny’s hometown (which I won’t mention here for confidentiality reasons), you are from my neighboring county. Are you talking about Penny’s hometown or his adopted hometown? Either way, it’s less than a half hour drive from where I grew up. He’s definitely not my kind of candidate, but his candidacy for Governorship met with my approval more so than Moe or especially Pawlenty.

    As for Dayton, it’s true he would never be a Senator if not for his deep pockets since he’s not exactly charismatic. He may fit the “limousine liberal” stereotype you elude to if not for the fact that he chooses to be in elected office seeking to improve the world in ways that extend beyond simply throwing money around. I would much rather take an upper-class aristocrat like Dayton who’s seeking to help the working class than a professed “working class boy from South St. Paul” like Tim Pawlenty who’s cutting our throats and pandering to Mark Dayton’s neighbors.

    I’m an encyclopedia of political stats and would love to be the Karl Rove of the Democrats (excluding the whole illegal leak of a CIA agent bit) if such an opportunity arose. My guess for 2004 at the state level in Minnesota is that the Democrats will make inroads. Minneapolis and St. Paul will be as Democratic as ever, while moderate inner-core suburbs like Bloomington and Minnetonka, among many others, that swung to the Coleman-Pawlenty gruesome twosome in 2002 after the Wellstone Memorial will likely swing back. Bush does not appear to be very popular even in the suburbs, so a marginally competent Democratic challenger could make mince meat of Bush in the Presidential election. The sprawl areas (Carver, Wright, Scott and Sherburne counties, among others) will remain across-the-board Republican.
    Meanwhile, rural areas will tilt more Democratic than they have in the recent past (at least in state level elections), but certainly some socially conservative areas like Redwood and Otter Tail Counties which have never voted Democrat before will remain GOP no matter who runs. On the other hand, some of the House Republican incumbents are in places like Austin, where Republicans are traditionally about as popular as AIDS. Some of these guys are gonna have a hard time being re-elected. Of course, your Independence Party candidates often have a solid performance in certain races and it wouldn’t surprise me if they won in a couple places, or at least polled above 10 percent.

  15. Jay, I’m not entirely informed about this Colorado miracle, but have heard bits and pieces on how their budget is required to grow only at the pace of inflation and population growth. Considering that Colorado’s population growth is among the highest in the nation, and that the vast majority of the newcomers have well-above average incomes, is it reasonable to suggest that this approach would work for New York, Massachusetts, Indiana or Oklahoma where growth rates are more subdued? If funding government were really as simple for everybody as the Colorado approach suggests, everyone would be doing it.

    Blaming liberal areas for having more social problems and worse schools is the real form of class warfare in America. Obviously, the places where the free market’s success stories reside will have less crime, safer streets, and better schools than the places where the have-nots, who are guaranteed to exist in a market-based economy, reside. One would think that at some point conservatives would have to admit that the demographics of Eden Prairie versus Minneapolis have a greater impact than anything else on their quality of life, and that there’s only so much politicians can do within the framework of this class divide.

    With that said, it’s impossible to argue with statistics that have shown for years that liberal regions of the country are more successful in bridging that class divide and improving quality of life than are states that follow the disinvestment/free-market-rules-the-world-approach.

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