NEW 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 today."
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, 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 scary.
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 and Iraq , 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
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 wonderful country."
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, who also came to power
in a coup d'état.
And that's why we hate him.