Call Me a Bush-Hater
By Molly Ivins
Friday 14 November 2003
Among the more amusing cluckings from the right 0alately is their appalled discovery that quite a few Americans actually think 0aGeorge W. Bush is a terrible president.
Robert Novak is quoted as saying in all his 44 years 0aof covering politics, he has never seen anything like the detestation of Bush. 0aCharles Krauthammer managed to write an entire essay on the topic of "Bush-haters" in Time magazine as though he had never before come across a 0asimilar phenomenon.
Oh, I stretch memory way back, so far back, all the 0away back to our last president. Almost lost in the mists of time though it is, 0aI not only remember eight years of relentless attacks from Clinton-haters, I 0aalso notice they haven't let up yet. Clinton-haters accused the man of murder, 0arape, drug running, sexual harassment, financial chicanery, and official 0amisconduct. And they accuse his wife of even worse.
For eight long years, this country was a zoo of 0aClinton-haters. Any idiot with a big mouth and a conspiracy theory could get a 0ahearing on radio talk shows and "Christian" broadcasts and nutty Internet sites. 0aPeople with transparent motives, people paid by tabloid magazines, people with 0aknown mental problems, ancient Clinton enemies with notoriously racist pasts 0aall were given hearings, credence, and air time. Sliming Clinton was a sure road 0ato fame and fortune on the right, and many an ambitious young rightwing hit man 0alike David Brock, who has since made full confession, took that golden 0aopportunity.
And these folks didn't stop with verbal and printed 0aattacks. From the day Clinton was elected to office, he was the subject of the 0apolitics of personal destruction. They went after him with a multimillion-dollar 0asmear campaign funded by Richard Mellon Scaife, the rightwing billionaire. They 0awent after him with lawsuits funded by rightwing legal foundations (Paula 0aJones), they got special counsels appointed to investigate every nitpicking 0anothing that ever happened (Filegate, Travelgate), and they never let go of that 0ahardy perennial Whitewater.
After all this time and all those millions of 0adollars wasted, no one has ever proved that the Clintons did a single thing 0awrong. Bill Clinton lied about a pathetic, squalid affair that was none of 0aanyone else's business anyway, and for that they impeached the man and dragged 0athis country through more than a year of the most tawdry, ridiculous, 0aunnecessary pain. The day President Clinton tried to take out Osama bin Laden 0awith a missile strike, every right-winger in America said it was a case of "wag 0athe dog." He was supposedly trying to divert our attention from the much more 0abreathtakingly important and serious matter of Monica Lewinsky. And who did he 0athink he was to make us focus on some piffle like bin Laden?
"The puzzle is where this depth of feeling comes 0afrom," mused the ineffable Mr. Krauthammer. Gosh, what a puzzle that is. How 0acould anyone not be just crazy about George W. Bush? "Whence the anger?" asks 0aKrauthammer. "It begins of course with the 'stolen' election of 2000 and the 0aperception of Bush's illegitimacy."
I'd say so myself, yes, I would. I was in Florida 0aduring that chilling post-election fight, and am fully persuaded to this good 0aday that Al Gore actually won Florida, not to mention getting 550,000 more votes 0athan Bush overall. But I also remember thinking, as the scene became eerier and 0aeerier, "Jeez, maybe we should just let them have this one, because Republican 0awing-nuts are so crazy, their bitterness would poison Gore's whole presidency." 0aThe night Gore conceded the race in one of the most graceful and honorable 0aspeeches I have ever heard, I was in a ballroom full of Republican Party flacks 0awho booed and jeered through every word of it.
One thing I acknowledge about the right is that 0athey're much better haters than liberals are. Your basic liberal milk of human 0akindness flowing through every vein, and heart bleeding over everyone from the 0amilk-shy Hottentot to the glandular obese is pretty much a strikeout on the 0ahatred front. Maybe further out on the left you can hit some good righteous 0aanger, but liberals, and I am one, are generally real wusses. Guys like Rush 0aLimbaugh figured that out a long time ago attack a liberal and the first thing 0ahe says is, "You may have a point there."
To tell the truth, I'm kind of proud of us for 0aholding the grudge this long. Normally, we'd remind ourselves that we have to be 0agood sports, it's for the good of the country, we must unite behind the only 0apresident we've got, as Lyndon used to remind us. If there are still some of us 0aout here sulking, "Yeah, but they stole that election," well, good. I don't 0athink we should forget that.
But, onward. So George Dubya becomes president, 0ahaving run as a "compassionate conservative," and what do we get? Hell's own 0aconservative and dick for compassion.
His entire first eight months was tax cuts for the 0arich, tax cuts for the rich, tax cuts for the rich, and he lied and said the tax 0acuts would help average Americans. Again and again, the "average" tax cut would 0abe $1,000. That means you get $100, and the millionaire gets $92,000, and that's 0ahow they "averaged" it out. Then came 9/11, and we all rallied. Ready to give 0ablood, get out of our cars and ride bicycles, whatever. Shop, said the 0aPresident. And more tax cuts for the rich.
By now, we're starting to notice Bush's 0abait-and-switch. Make a deal with Ted Kennedy to improve education and then fail 0ato put money into it. Promise $15 billion in new money to combat AIDS in Africa (wow!) but it turns out to be a cheap con, almost no new money. Bush comes to 0apraise a job training effort, and then cuts the money. Bush says AmeriCorps is 0agreat, then cuts the money. Gee, what could we possibly have against this guy? 0aWe go along with the war in Afghanistan, and we still don't have bin Laden.
Then suddenly, in the greatest bait-and-switch of 0aall time, Osama bin doesn't matter at all, and we have to go after Saddam 0aHussein, who had nothing to do with 9/11. But he does have horrible weapons of 0amass destruction, and our president "without doubt," without question, knows all 0aabout them, even unto the amounts tons of sarin, pounds of anthrax. So we take 0aout Saddam Hussein, and there are no weapons of mass destruction. Furthermore, 0athe Iraqis are not overjoyed to see us.
By now, quite a few people who aren't even liberal 0aare starting to say, "Wha the hey?" We got no Osama, we got no Saddam, we got no 0aweapons of mass destruction, the road map to peace in the Middle East is blown 0ato hell, we're stuck in this country for $87 billion just for one year and no 0aone knows how long we'll be there. And still poor Mr. Krauthammer is hard-put to 0aconceive how anyone could conclude that George W. Bush is a poor excuse for a 0aPresident.
Chuck, honey, it ain't just the 2.6 million jobs 0awe've lost: People are losing their pensions, their health insurance, the cost 0aof health insurance is doubling, tripling in price, the Administration wants to 0acut off their overtime, and Bush was so too little, too late with extending 0aunemployment compensation that one million Americans were left high and dry. And 0ayou wonder why we think he's a lousy president?
Sure, all that is just what's happening in people's 0alives, but what we need is the Big Picture. Well, the Big Picture is that after 0aSeptember 11, we had the sympathy of every nation on Earth. They all signed up, 0aall our old allies volunteered, everybody was with us, and Bush just booted all 0aof that away. Sneering, jeering, bad manners, hideous diplomacy, threats, 0ademands, arrogance, bluster.
"In Afghanistan, Bush rode a popular tide; Iraq, 0ahowever, was a singular act of presidential will," says Krauthammer.
You bet your ass it was. We attacked a country that 0ahad done nothing to us, had nothing to do with Al Qaeda, and turns out not to 0ahave weapons of mass destruction.
It is not necessary to hate George W. Bush to think 0ahe's a bad president. Grownups can do that, you know. You can decide someone's 0apolicies are a miserable failure without lying awake at night consumed with 0ahatred.
Poor Bush is in way over his head, and the country 0ais in bad shape because of his stupid economic policies.
If that makes me a Bush-hater, then sign me up.
Molly Ivins, a syndicated columnist out of 0aAustin, Texas, is the co-author of "Bushwhacked: Life in George W. Bush's 0aAmerica."
Jump to TO Features for Tuesday 18 November 2003