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Preview: RealClearPolitics - Articles - J. R. Dunn

RealClearPolitics - Articles - J. R. Dunn

Last Build Date: Tue, 20 Jan 2009 08:15:34 -0600

Copyright: Copyright 2009

Bush and the Bush-Haters

Tue, 20 Jan 2009 08:15:34 -0600

His detractors were willing to risk the country's safety, its economic health, and the very balance of the democratic system of government in order to get at him. They were out to bring him down at all costs, or at the very least destroy his personal and presidential reputation. At this they have been half successful, at a high price for the country and its government. Although everyone insists on doing so, it is impossible to judge Bush, his achievements, or his failings, without taking these attacks into account. Before any serious analysis of the Bush presidency can be made, some attempt to encompass the campaign against him must be carried out. I hope no one is holding his breath. It's quite true that other presidents have suffered baseless attacks. Lincoln was generally dismissed as an imbecile, an unwashed backwoodsman, and an orang-outang (as they spelled it then). There exists an infamous Confederate cartoon portraying him with devil's horns and one foot on the Constitution. Next to no one at the time could have foreseen the towering stature Lincoln would at last attain. Richard M. Nixon probably stands as the most hated president prior to Bush. But that was largely thanks to a relatively small coterie of east-coast leftists and their hangers-on, angered by Nixon's early anti-communism (which had become more "nuanced" by the time he took office, as the 1970 opening to China clearly reveals.). Nixon had the support of most of the country, the famed "silent majority", during his first term, and if not for his own personal failings, he would unquestionably have prevailed over his enemies. Difficult though it may be to believe, Nixon was only one paranoid slip away from being considered a great or near-great president With Reagan, the coterie was even smaller and more isolated. His enemies continually underestimated him as a "B-movie actor" (which, by the way, showed a serious misunderstanding as to how the old studio system actually worked), and were just as continually flummoxed by his humor, his intelligence, and his unexcelled skill at communication. As the outpouring of public emotion surrounding his state funeral made clear, Reagan today stands as one of the beloved of all modern presidents. Bush is alone at being attacked and denied support from all quarters -- even from many members of his own party. No single media source, excepting talk radio, was ever in his corner. Struggling actors and comics revived their careers though attacks on Bush. A disturbed woman perhaps a half step above the status of a bag lady parked outside his Crawford home to throw curses at him and was not only not sent on her way but joined by hundreds of others with plenty of spare time on their hands, an event covered in minute-by-minute detail by major media. At least two films, one produced play, and a novel (by the odious Nicholson Baker, a writer with the distinction of dropping further down the ladder of decency with each work -- from sophisticated porn in Vox to degrading the war against Hitler in last year's Human Smoke) appeared calling for his assassination -- a new wrinkle in presidential criticism, and one that the left will regret. And let's not forget that tribune of the voiceless masses, Michael Moore, whose Fahrenheit 911 once marked the end-all and be-all of political satire but today is utterly forgotten. While FDR was accused of having engineered Pearl Harbor (as if even an attempted attack on the US would not have been enough to get the country into WW II in real style), no president before Bush was ever subjected to the machinations of an entire conspiracy industry. The 9/11 Truthers, a mix of seriously disturbed individuals and hustlers out to pull a profitable con, accused Bush and his administration of crimes that put the allegations against Roosevelt in the shade, and with far less rational basis. These hallucinations were picked up the mass media, playing the role of transmission belt, and various fringe political figures along the lines of Cynthia McKinney. But even this pales in light of the actions o[...]