YORK--"Have the Democrats totally flipped
their lids?" asks David Brooks in The
Weekly Standard, quasi-official organ of the
Bush Administration. "Because every
day some Democrat seems to make a manic or totally
over-the-top statement about George Bush, the
Republican party, and the state of the nation
True, Democrats loathe Dubya with greater intensity
than any Republican standard-bearer in modern
political history. Even the diabolical Richard
Nixon--who, after all, created the EPA, went to
China and imposed price controls to stop corporate
gouging--rates higher in liberal eyes. "It's
mystifying," writes Brooks.
Let me explain.
First but not foremost, Bush's detractors despise
him viscerally, as a man. Where working-class
populists see him as a smug, effeminate frat boy
who wouldn't recognize a hard day's work if it
kicked him in his self-satisfied ass, intellectuals
see a simian-faced idiot unqualified to mow his
own lawn, much less lead the free world. Another
group, which includes me, is more patronizing
than spiteful. I feel sorry for the dude; he looks
so pathetic, so out of his depth, out there under
the klieg lights, squinting, searching for nouns
and verbs, looking like he's been snatched from
his bed and beamed in, and is still half asleep,
not sure where he is. Each speech looks as if
Bush had been beamed from his bed fast asleep.
And he's willfully ignorant. On Fox News, Bush
admits that he doesn't even read the newspaper:
"I glance at the headlines just to kind of
[sic] a flavor for what's moving. I rarely read
the stories, and get briefed by people who are
probably read [sic] the news themselves."
All these takes on Bush boil down to the same
thing: The guy who holds the launch codes isn't
smart enough to know that's he's stupid. And that's
Fear breeds hatred, and Bush's policies create
a lot of both. U.S. citizens like Jose Padilla
and Yasser Hamdi disappear into the night, never
to be heard from again. A concentration camp rises
at Guantánamo. Stasi-like spies tap our
phones and read our mail; thanks to the ironically-named
Patriot Act, these thugs don't even need a warrant.
As individual rights are trampled, corporate profits
are sacrosanct. An aggressive, expansionist military
invades other nations "preemptively"
to eliminate the threat of non-existent weapons,
and American troops die to enrich a company that
buys off the Vice President.
Time to dust off the F word. "Whenever people
start locking up enemies because of national security
without much legal care, you are coming close
[to fascism]," warns Robert Paxton, emeritus
professor of history at Columbia University and
author of the upcoming book "Fascism in Action."
We're supposed to hate fascists--or has that changed
because of 9/11?
Bush bashers hate Bush for his personal hypocrisy--the
draft-dodger who went AWOL during Vietnam yet
sent other young men to die in Afghanistan (news
sites) and Iraq (news
sites), the philandering cocaine addict who
dares to call gays immoral--as well as for his
attacks on peace and prosperity. But even that
doesn't explain why we hate him so much.
Bush is guilty of a single irredeemable act so
heinous and anti-American that Nixon's corruption
and Reagan's intellectual inferiority pale by
comparison. No matter what he does, Democrats
and Republicans who love their country more than
their party will never forgive him for it.
Bush stole the presidency.
The United States enjoyed two centuries of uninterrupted
democracy before George W. Bush came along. The
Brits burned the White House, civil war slaughtered
millions and depressions brought economic chaos,
yet presidential elections always took place on
schedule and the winners always took office. Bush
ended all that, suing to stop a ballot count that
subsequent newspaper recounts proved he had lost.
He had his GOP-run Supreme Court, a federal institution,
rule extrajurisdictionally on the disputed election,
a matter that under our system of laws falls to
the states. Bush's recount guru, James Baker,
went on national TV to threaten to use force to
install him as president if Gore didn't step aside:
"If we keep being put in the position of
having to respond to recount after recount after
recount of the same ballots, then we just can't
sit on our hands, and we will be forced to do
what might be in our best personal interest--but
not--it would not be in the best interest of our
Bush isn't president, but he plays one on TV.
His presence in the White House is an affront
to everything that this country stands for. His
fake presidency is treasonous; our passive tolerance
for it sad testimony to post-9/11 cowardice. As
I wrote in December 2000, "George W. Bush
is not the President of the United States
of America." And millions of Americans agree.
Two months after 9/11, when Bush's job approval
rating was soaring at 89 percent, 47 percent of
Americans told a Gallup poll that he had not won
the presidency legitimately. "The election
controversy...could make a comeback if Bush's
approval ratings were to fall significantly,"
predicted Byron York in The National Review.
Two years later, 3 million jobs are gone, Bush's
wars have gone sour, and just 50 percent of voters
approve of his performance. If York is correct,
most Americans now consider Bush to be no more
legitimate than Saddam Hussein (news
sites), who also came to power in a coup d'état.
And that's why we hate him.
(Ted Rall is the author of the graphic travelogue
"To Afghanistan and Back," an award-winning
recounting of his experiences covering the U.S.
invasion of Afghanistan. It is now available in
a revised and updated paperback edition containing
new material. Ordering information is available
September 30, 2003