Why don't you "hate" Obama?

That’s a provocative headline, I know, but it is not meant to provoke. It’s a real question, inspired by some of my emails from people taking me to task for insufficient appreciation of our current president, and for unseemly appreciation of our previous president, whom they and the world “hate.”

The question is also inspired by something I noticed while I was digging up articles on the good President Bush has done in Africa – that many people who wish to give Bush anything resembling even the faintest praise, are compelled to preface that praise with a condemnation of the man, himself:

“I am heartbroken overall by the Bush administration,” Ruxin said in a telephone interview. “But from my perch here in Rwanda, it is impossible to deny the results and achievements of PEPFAR. Many Rwandans were made Republicans because [President Bush's] was the first administration that has taken an interest and done something here.”

“I am heartbroken overall…” You see echos of that or something akin to, “he was a horrible, evil person and an incompetent moron, but…” or, “I am second to none in my loathing of Bush, but…”

It’s such a cowardly thing to do, this reflexive serving up of one’s Bush-hate bona fides: “don’t hate me for saying something good about him, but…”

It takes no courage at all to jump onto a bandwagon, just the fear of being left behind.

So, these people castigate me for not loving Obama enough (I’ve more than once pointed out that I dislike the president’s policies and am rather agnostic on the man, himself, but you know -that’s “hate”) while proudly proclaiming their brave hatred of Bush, and I cannot help wondering, “why, exactly, do you hate Bush?”

Oh, I know what the answers will be – we’ve heard them over and over. But in the face of this new presidency, let’s change the question a little:

You hate Bush because: “He stole the 2000 Election!”
Well, not really, but if that’s the case, why are you not troubled by President Obama’s long and close association with voter-fraud-lovin’ ACORN? Why don’t you “hate” Obama?

You hate Bush because “he tortured people!”
All indications are that the torture was very limited in scope and that -whether we are comfortable with it or not- information gleaned through waterboarding saved lives. But the thing is, after making a big noise about “ending” torture, Obama has still left the door open even if it’s just the tiniest bit, to its use, if needed. Why don’t you “hate” Obama?

You hate Bush because “he created extraordinary renditions and indefinite detentions!”
Well, actually, that was President Clinton’s baby, but yes, Bush continued it. And um…it seems Obama is expanding renditions, and continuing the indefinite detentions, too. Why don’t you “hate” Obama?

You hate Bush because “he wiretapped the American public & shredded the Bill of Rights.”
Well, that is a highly overdramatic and rather inaccurate charge, but indications are that the terrorists and terrorism supporters who were being studied under the NIE policy have been stopped from blowing people up on American soil, and um…after making a lot of noise about how evil the man and how rights-eroding the policy, Obama has decided to keep it all in place and he is becoming seriously worrying on free speech, the most fundamental of our rights. Why don’t you “hate” Obama?

You hate Bush because “he spent the Clinton surplus and put us in debt and cut taxes for the rich!”
You’re kidding right? The “surplus” was a projected only, a projection that the GAO eventually admitted was optimistic by 30% and the mythical surplus never factored in an attack on our soil. The big, bad tax cuts (which the Congress voted in a second time, soundly) seem to have propelled us to spectacularly low unemployment rates (remember, when Clinton was in office we accepted that 5.6% unemployment was “virtually full” employment). And even, yes, the New York Times admitted that 2006 tax receipts were at record highs and were lowering the deficit. President Obama has ushered in a failure of a stimulus plan, he’s going to raise taxes on everyone (those Bush tax cuts end in January, btw) so that will be nice, and if you hated the “Bush debt” then you should be vociferously objecting to the nation-killing “Obama-debt.” And yet, you seem rather unconcerned by it. Why don’t you “hate” Obama?

You hate Bush because: “someone in his White House exposed Valerie Plame!”
No, someone in both Clinton’s and Obama’s White House, Richard Armitage, exposed Valerie Plame. But if that story bothered you, then you should have been livid at the Obama administrations potential exposure of our undercover people, and their apparent leaks of same to the press. Why don’t you “hate” Obama?

You hate Bush because: “He Lied Us Into War with Cherry-Picked Intelligence!”
Well, whether President Clinton and other Democrats will agree with that is an interesting question, but if believing bad intelligence is “lying” and cherry-picking is deceitful, then what do you think about President Obama’s insistence that he must destroy our economy in order to save the environment, all based on “cherry picked” climate bombast which every day looks more and more like snakeoil salesmanship that is unworthy of belief? You hate Bush for believing bad intelligence and moving forward with a plan based on those flaws, so, why don’t you “hate” Obama?

Oh, and you hate Bush because “He Refused to Sign Kyoto & Probably Killed the Planet”:
The Kyoto Treaty that our Congress rejected unanimously and Clinton subsequently shelved. President Bush decided to work out an alternative to the Kyoto treaty; it addressed environmental concerns without wrecking economies. Since Obama is pledging to design alternatives to a congressionally unpopular plan, why don’t you “hate” Obama?

For that matter, it looks to me like we have a Convenient Boondoggle being exposed, here. Yesterday the BBC asked “whither global warming” and today the media is heralding the virtues and values of shale processing, which, ummm…was not to be seriously discussed while there was an “oilman” in the White House, but is now going to save the world! Do you climate true-believers who are willing to wreck the economy for a dubious cap-and-trade plan feel “played” yet? Bush was never played by these people and because he wasn’t neither were you.

In reviewing all this, it does seem to me that this passionate “hate” of George W. Bush is based not on substance but on style. Obama swagger is cool; Bush swagger was arrogant. Obama arrogance is “confidence.” Bush confidence was “ignorance.” Obama’s misspeaks and gaffes are ignored, Bush’s were magnified. Obama looks good. Bush looked goofy. All that “hate” seems to be part of an adolescent values system that is willing to overlook a multitude of sins as long as you get to belong to the jock/cheerleader clique, and not the Nerd/AV gang.

Although some seem to be tireless in their efforts to convince me that I should “hate” President Bush as much as they think I “hate” President Obama, I don’t think we should “hate” anyone, and I am not seriously suggesting that you “should” hate President Obama. I am simply wondering why two men can do very similar (sometimes exactly the same) things, and the first man’s actions can garner your life-long, cockle-warming hate, while the other man’s actions go overlooked and your cockles go agreeably cold.

“Obama might be doing all those things, but at least he’s not Bush!” You say. Right. And Bush was bad again, because…why? Oh, yeah, all those things I mentioned plus the bad economy!

Why would I ever expect consistency, that “hobgoblin of small minds” when your minds are so wide-open and huge. Stupid of me.

I know I’ve just wasted my time asking this question, that you will continue to simple hate Bush; you’ll do that because it’s the easy, mindless thing to do, because it will keep you aboard the bandwagon with all the cool kids, and never mind where the wagon is going. But please don’t expect me to take your flaming righteousness all that seriously.

About Elizabeth Scalia
  • Amie

    But waterboarding did stop acts of aggression.
    But I’m sure you know that already.

  • http://profiles.google.com/JohnMcG JohnMcG

    Ok, I’ll draw it out more.

    Catholic theory allows killing in self-defense under the principle of double effect. If the act is against someone engaged in an aggressive act it is permissible. I may licitly kill an intruder lunging toward my wife or children.

    This is not the case with torture, including waterboarding. The captive, or detainee, or terrorist if you prefer poses no immediate threat. He is not currently engaged in an act of aggression against me. Therefore, it is not permissible to harm him under the principle of double effect.

  • Joseph

    even my esteemed friend Joseph Marshall, seems completely disinterested in all of those similarities in policies (and differences in temperament) between Bush and Obama and in content to simply rehash old arguments, justifying his own fervent dislike of Bush

    Now Anchoress, I must confess this has annoyed me. So much so that I have waited a couple of days before taking it back up. Unfortunately, the two days did nothing to defuse my annoyance.

    I was going to come back when I was less annoyed and address your post point by point. However, not only has my annoyance not dissipated, when I looked over the post again it has increased.

    Each and every time you ask, “Why don’t you hate Obama?” you have structured the context as that wonderful attorney’s cross-examination tactic known as the wife-beating question: “How long has it been since you’ve stopped beating your wife?”

    Why am I annoyed with this? Because your questions are not disinterested and aboveboard. They are clearly motivated by political opposition to Barack Obama disguised as objective answer seeking, and you are trying to force a certain answer to make a realistic response outside of your political opposition to him impossible.

    I am not interested in playing this game. I am not interested in being baited this way.

    If you want to ask me about any of Obama’s policies or actions, please do not frame them with this shabby rhetorical trick.

    If you do, I am perfectly willing to tell you what I think about 1] the fairness of the 2008 election, 2] Obama’s executive order concerning interrogation tactics, 3] His executive order about extraordinary renditions, or his current policy on indefinite detentions, 4] his Attorney General’s investigation of CIA interrogations, 5] His budgetary proposals, 6] His stance on Global Warming, 7] or his stance on the rag-tag of other issues your sources present–but only without the underhanded rhetorical claptrap.

    Now, given the claptrap, I suspect you are not that interested in this degree of detail. So what I will say is insofar as his proposals meet my sense of fitness of things, I support them, insofar as they don’t, I oppose them. In neither case do I hate him.

    But if and when I do oppose him, it will be for specific reasons, about his specific actions, buttressed by evidence and grounded in fact.

    Just as I have done above with George W. Bush.