Thursday, September 22, 2005

It’s Not Hatred

David Brooks* confuses hatred with disapproval.

[Sen. John] Kerry began his speech by making the point that Bush and his crew are rotten. He then went on to make the point that Bush and his crew are loathsome. In the third section of the speech, Kerry left the impression that Bush and his crew are evil.

Now we all know people so consumed by hatred for George Bush that they haven’t had an unpredictable thought in five years, but in Kerry’s speech one sees this anger in almost clinical form.

Nice Ray Bolger act there, David — expressing wonderment that someone might be a tad irked at an administration that has pretty much screwed up everything it has touched: the economy, the environment, our alliances, and saying that it’s so boring that you’re upset. “Gee, Dad, all I did was plow your $85,000 Mercedes through the yard and into the pool. No one drowned! Get over it!”

The minions have this little dance they go into when the president is criticised; “Oh, you just hate Bush so you have nothing valid to say.” Well, they learned their lesson well from eight years of doing just that with Clinton, so I guess they know of what they speak, but again, they’re dodging the issue. One can dispprove heartily and heatedly with an administration’s policies and methods without hating them. As I’ve said before, I personally don’t hate Mr. Bush, based on the simple fact that I don’t know him personally — that’s one requirement for hatred in my book — and even if I did, I doubt that there would be enough of an emotional connection to work up the juices to hate him; he’s just not worth it. Second, by using the “hate” excuse, they end the discussion; there’s nothing more to be said, and anyone who’s ever argued with a child knows it:

Parent: “Why did you fail your arthimetic test?”

Child: “My teacher hates me and I hate her.”

It’s amazing how easy it is to see that transformed into the current political debate:

John Kerry: “The president has a lot to answer for.”

David Brooks: “You hate Bush.”

[Long pause]

Tim Russert: “We’ll be back right after these messages.”

We should be used to these deflection techniques. Both President Clinton and FDR used to laugh at their critics, which made them even more pissed off to the point that it was fun to watch them fulminate. The current administration hasn’t mastered the technique; they act the innocent, surprised that anything they do generates criticism (see today’s Doonesbury), and plays into image of heedlessly bumbling through life without a care in the world. They seem indifferent to what has happened in their wake, and that’s a far more dangerous and destructive attitude to have than just plain old hatred.

*I read David Brooks so you don’t have to. Thanks to my addiction to the Sunday crossword, I have a subscription to the New York Times, which gives me their TimesSelect pay-per-read service for free.