Tuesday, August 17, 2004

From NRO, a weak case for Bush

Victor Davis Hanson accuses liberals of hating Bush for "who he is" and not "what he does". Hanson accepts that some might be against Bush for good reasons, "But what is not explicable in terms of rational disagreement is the Left's pathological hatred of George W. Bush. It transcends all contention over the issues, the Democratic hurt over the Florida elections, and even the animus once shown Bill Clinton by the activist Right. From where does this near-religious anger arise and what does it portend? Let's start with the admission that much of the invective is irrational, fueled by emotion rather than reason...."

Things would certainly move in Bush's favor if Bush-hatred nationwide died down. But then again, if those who hate Kerry in particular or the Democrats in general for being too cosmopolitan, too wimpy, too Francophilic, too "girly," became more enlightened and reasonable, things might well go in favor of Kerry. If everyone on both sides who'd picked their candidate on the basis of hatred for the other side were to focus instead on the issues, things might well remain 50-50.

Hanson sums up: "In short, the Left hates George W. Bush for who he is rather than what he does. Southern conservatism, evangelical Christianity, a black-and-white worldview, and a wealthy man's disdain for elite culture — none by itself earns hatred, of course, but each is a force multiplier of the other and so helps explain the evolution of disagreement into pathological venom."

He neglects to mention that the Right hates Kerry for who he is rather than what he does. Northern liberalism, sedately expressed Catholicism, a nuanced worldview, and a wealthy man's embrace of elite culture.

Does Hanson really believe that conservatives who hate Kerry hate him solely for reasonable reasons? Doesn't he know that all Bush's traits that he named as turning off liberals are precisely the same ones that make Bush's supporters enthusiastic about their candidate?

13 comments:

Dylan said...

First, the right does not "hate" Kerry the way Bush is hated and reviled by the left. The electoral outcome is the same; we ain't voting for long face. But we don't stay up at night howling at the moon and sacrificing chickens in the hope that some fatal and painful disease will afflict him. Although this could be becasue Teresa is punishment enough.

Second, we do not dislike Kerry for who he is rather than what he has done. He's voted against essentially everything the right believes in in terms of defense and foreign policy, far more than your average Democrat. We also dislike him for his ACTIONS after coming back from Vietnam.

Phoebe said...

Dylan,

It may well be true that the right doesn't hate Kerry the way the left hates Bush. But Bush is already president, so his adversaries have a bit more material to work with. Those on the right may hate liberals or liberal viewpoints in general without having equally emotional reactions to Kerry in particular.

While conservatives may reasonably dislike Kerry for his actions, plenty of liberals dislike Bush for his actions. Plenty on both sides, though, have a visceral hatred for the other side. There's nothing especially conservative or liberal about picking a candidate for silly reasons, it happens plenty on both sides.

Dylan said...

Go to bed. Sweet dreams.

Spencer said...

Give the Pubs four months of a Kerry Presidency & they'll have THK playing the role of Lady Macbeth & JK scheming with France to return Saddam to power.

It's a joke, this idea that the Right's vitriol & anger is somehow more idea-centered & pristine than the Left's.

I lost at least 4 ounces of respect for Southern Appeal when I saw support for that idea over there. That's a whole quarter-pound.

Phoebe said...

Precisely. As I said, it's all about having material to work with--the longer someone's in office, the more his or her opponents have to criticize.

Dylan said...

Kerry has been in an elected office longer than Bush. Care to rephrase?

Phoebe said...

Not the presidency. You knew what I meant.

Dylan said...

I'm not as bright as you think I am.

Anonymous said...

Conservatives bash Kerry's lifestyle and values because these are so comically at odds with positions he now claims to hold. He is the friend to the struggling worker who lives off his billionaire wife, the professed Catholic who backs abortion to the hilt, and the advocate of alternative energy sources who blocked wind power stations that threatened to spoil the views from his Martha's Vineyard getaway spot.
Illuminating these contradictions is strategy, intended to contrast President Bush, whose character and policies fit hand in glove, with the inconsistent Kerry. If it is a strategy, then there is a rational purpose behind it, unlike the left's blind rage at the president. You say, "Things would certainly move in Bush's favor if Bush-hatred nationwide died down," but Democrats have clamped down on the crazed yelling since their convention, which they would not have done if they did not expect it to favor them, since such behavior was alienating moderate voters. However, Republican bashing of Kerry's lifestyle and values will continue up to Election Day, because it is key to painting him as a wishy-washy opportunist.
Besides, conservatives don't hate Kerry for his allegedly elitist characteristics because so many of them share those characteristics. Plenty of the so-called neocons speak French (William Kristol, for example, studied at the French Lycee in London during the '50s), vacation in places like Aspen and are chary of overt religiosity, all while remaining die-hard Bush-backers. It is not the existence of these traits in Kerry, but the combination of those traits with his stated positions that animates conservative disapproval.

Phoebe said...

It is, I'm afraid, absurd to offer William Kristol (or the other behind-the-scenes "neocons") as a conservative counterpart to Kerry. Kristol et al, along with their alleged Francophilia, are a lot lower profile as individuals than are Kerry and his France-loving tendencies. Traits that cause a potential president to be mocked are overlooked every second of every day when found in people who aren't presidential contenders.

I stand by the following: there are logical, thought-out reasons to "bash" both candidates, just as there are illogical, knee-jerk reasons to do the same. Both sides have got folks doing each.

Anonymous said...

Yes, and it is just as valid to forcefully assert that both the Israelis and the Palestinian terrorists cause innocent lives to be lost. However, the latter intentionally slaughter innocents in hopes of effecting the ultimate destruction of Israel as a nation, while the former assiduously avoid civilian casualties but nonetheless inadvertently cause some in the course of defending their innocent citizens against the plague of terrorism.
There is no meaningful equivalency between the aimless, incendiary Bush bashing by the overwhelming majority of leftists and the calculated, mild Kerry bashing by a far smaller subset of conservatives.

Anonymous said...

Yes, and it is just as valid to forcefully assert that both the Israelis and the Palestinian terrorists cause innocent lives to be lost. However, the latter intentionally slaughter innocents in hopes of effecting the ultimate destruction of Israel as a nation, while the former assiduously avoid civilian casualties but nonetheless inadvertently cause some in the course of defending their innocent citizens against the plague of terrorism.
There is no meaningful equivalency between the aimless, incendiary Bush bashing by the overwhelming majority of leftists and the calculated, mild Kerry bashing by a far smaller subset of conservatives.

Smithers said...

Just wait until Kerry gets elected and watch the right's hate machine crank up...