Wednesday, December 21, 2005

In defense of hating

(also posted at partyline)

Conservatives have been pretty good about attacking anyone who suggests that Bush is unlikable or a bad person. “Bush hater” is thrown around like a four-letter word. Even when his administration accuses critics of treason or accuses McCain of having an illegitimate child or tries to dismantle the Social Security which keeps millions of old people out of poverty, critics are expected to act as if Bush is personally a nice guy with whom we just happen to have a policy disagreement with.

At the same time, it is respectable to hate Clinton. Hell, I’ve even had liberals look me straight in the eye and say they hated Clinton and found that he was an immoral person. Why? Well, not because Clinton abused his powers as president to illegally spy on citizens, not because he tried to impoverish millions with loaded tax cuts, no, that would be forgivable. Instead of lying about wiretapping citizens Clinton lied about cheating on his wife. And quite honestly, it’s clear which one is more serious and worthy of our scorn.

I do think that conservatives have a better media game that liberals do. It’s not because the “media” is conservatively biased (giving conservatives the awesome power to insert six or seven biased words into a New York Times article which get edited out), it’s because they’ve set up a parallel media with their own radio and television stations. Overtly conservatives, they present people who are willing to attack the opposition in personal ways, thus Kerry is unlikable and stiff. His wife is overbearing and power-hungry. Mrs. Clinton is a Machiavellian and personally dislikable. You get to hear all these on talk radio and to find out that Bush is a jerk who wants dictatorial powers you have to switch over to Air America (and of course, they’re all nut-balls, I know because I heard it on Hannity).

Now, this may not seem like a big deal but I think it is because personal animosity is a great political motivator. Many Americans have no idea of Bush’s policies, they just “know” he’s a nice guy. They have no idea where democrats stand on Iraq but they “know” Democrats are happy when things go bad there. They have no idea what Senator Clinton’s positions are, but they “know” she is conniving and mean. It’s bad enough when conservatives start internalizing this, its even worse when I have to hear liberals complain that “Sadly, I’ll just have to work for Hillary’s election in ‘08”.

It’s important to be *able* to argue honestly that Bush and other popular conservatives are not a nice people. In Bush’s case it’s not just true, it’s politically wise. With Bush’s popularity at an all time low it’s important to start engaging conservatives in the character debate. If we’re lucky we can turn disenchantment with Bush’s policies and leadership ability into an appreciation for the character flaws (and warped sense of morality) that gave rise to them.


This is a test. Libertarians havw a poorly thought-out political philosophy. This is a test.
Post a Comment