An alarming number of political pundits have filled many column-inches of newsprint lately with a common complaint: the rise of the Bush Hater. According to their story, the surge of opposition to the Presidency of George W. Bush is primarily motivated by personal hatred. David Brooks, Nicholas Kristof, William Safire, Robert Novak, Charles Krauthammer and others especially target anti-Bush web sites, asserting that in our blind rage at the man we have taken politics to new lows.
This is a serious charge and, as such, merits a serious response. So let me lay out my own sincere, personal response.
|I don't hate George W. Bush,|| but I cannot abide the damage he has done to the country.|
|I have nothing against Bush as a person,|| but his policies drive me to distraction.|
|I'd wouldn't poison Bush even if I had the chance,|| but unfortunately the Bush Administration has manipulated environmental regulations in a way that will poison millions of Americans.|
|I'm sure George W. Bush would be fun to watch football games with,|| but he has repeatedly demonstrated that he is out of his element when running the country.|
|I admire Bush for kicking drinking,||but I didn't appreciate the ethics he demonstrated in trashing Clinton for an episode of oral sex while hiding his record of drunk driving.|
|While George W. Bush sure has a friendly smile,|| he led our nation to war under false pretenses.|
|I wish George W. Bush happiness as a person,|| but the fact remains that tens of thousands of innocent Iraqis are dead as a consequence of his impatience with diplomacy.|
|It's hard to hate someone you've never met,|| but it's easy to find fault with the Bush Administration's policy of cutting funds to social programs for America's neediest while draining the budget for tax cuts to the America's wealthiest.|
|Good for George that he seems to be happily married to his wife, Laura,|| but it's a shame that he pushes his own limited vision of happiness on people who are doing him no harm by keeping gay and lesbian people in love from getting married.|
|I respect George W. Bush's right to believe whatever story he wants to about Jesus and God,|| but I deeply resent his repeated attempts to shove his religion down other Americans' throats.|
|George can really be charming when he tells a joke,|| but the more than 2 million jobs lost during his tenure is no joke.|
|I wish George W. Bush a long and happy life after he leaves the Oval Office,|| but his lack of support for any action to stop the real decline in the minimum wage will shorten the lives of kids whose parents work at minimum-wage jobs.|
|I find gullible people to be kind of sweet on an interpersonal basis,|| but George W. Bush might have tried to check up on the wildly fictional claims of Iraqi exiles before marching other people's kids into battle.|
|While I can appreciate the joy of spontaneity,|| the Bush administration's lack of a plan for post-war Iraq had dire consequences.|
|George W. Bush can do whatever he wants to with his life -- bully for him.|| But I don't like the way he's ignored the Constitutional freedoms of others.|
Get it? George W. Bush as a person is beside the point. You don't have to hate someone to harbor deep opposition to the course of his behavior.
I respect the intelligence of commentators like Brooks, Safire, Novak and Kristof enough to imagine that they appreciate this. Their specious use of the epithet "Bush haters," then, can only be an attempt to deflect policy criticism by dismissing those doing the criticizing. The Brookses and Novaks of the world would like that pesky criticism to just go away. So long as the Constitution has not been wholly dismantled by the likes of George W. Bush, and so long as the Bush Administration's actions merit defiance, our voices will remain defiant. Not personally hateful. Defiant.
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