Tinotopia (Logo)
TinotopiaLog → Sudden Bush Hatred Fatigue Syndrome ( 9 Aug 2004)
Monday 09 August 2004

Sudden Bush Hatred Fatigue Syndrome

Lileks today writes about being struck recently by Sudden Bush Hatred Fatigue Syndrome. I have to wonder whether it is just coincidence or the result of some ramping-up of rhetoric, because I was laid low by the same thing last week.

I listen to Air America a lot. XM Radio has two political-talk channels, ‘America Left’ and ‘America Right’, and even though I disagree politically with the people on ‘America Left’ — which is just an Air America feed pirated from WLIB in New York — I find them more entertaining. ‘America Right’ is far too full of patronizing bloviators for my taste.

In any case, Air America didn’t give me SBHFS. Air America is no different, really from right-wing talk radio like Rush Limbaugh, except that Al Franken & Co. spend a lot more time talking about right-wing media than the righties do talking about left-wing media — which is saying quite a lot. Al Franken’s whole show (“The O’Franken Factor”) seems to be about Bill O’Reilly; every time it tune in to Franken he’s going on about O’Reilly. But the purpose of Air America is to be explosively Left, and to complain about George Bush and friends in the same way that right-wing talk radio has complained about liberals for years.

This week, for the first time in a while, I picked up the New Yorker. For the past few months, they’ve shown up in the mail and been stacked in a neat pile. The New Yorker’s star dimmed considerably in my estimation after they published a real stinker of a statistical-analysis piece on SUVs by Malcolm Gladwell. Everyone is welcome to their opinion, but in the New Yorker I do not expect to read stories that undermine their own arguments by simply ignoring facts which are inconvenient.

Anyway, this week’s New Yorker — the August 9 & 16 issue — just crossed the line for me. I’ve subscribed to the magazine for quite a while; it’s easily my longest continuous magazine subscription, because it’s one of the very few general-interest magazines left in the United States. It’s not about anything in particular: once in a great while now, they run an interesting short story; there’s always some comment on the news; there are those amusing anecdotes in the front; and I like a lot of the cartoons.

The only unifying element about the New Yorker — if you can say it has one at all — is that it’s assumed that everyone reading it is a good deal brighter than the average person, and thus the magazine generally manages to avoid insulting one’s intelligence. Until now, that is.

Here are some excerpts from the first three things I started reading in this week’s issue:

The very first paragraph of actual copy in the magazine, in a ‘Talk of the Town’ bit about the Democratic convention:

There’s a case to be made that it hardly matters how eloquent or effective John Kerry was at the Democratic National Convention last week. What matters infinitely more is that George W. Bush is the worst President the country has endured since Richard Nixon, and even mediocrity would be an improvement.

In what is, as a whole, and interesting article under ‘Annals of War’, broadly about two soldiers who were killed in Iraq, and the procedures for repatriating their bodies:

As a unit of the élite 82nd Airborne Division, Bravo Company found itself in some of the fiercest fighting last year during the advance on Baghdad. Its hundred-and-thirty-off paratroopers are among the Army’s best-equipped soldiers, and none died during formal hostilities. The dying came later, after President Bush declared the mission accomplished.

And a few paragraphs later in the same article:

For months, Bravo Company ate nothing but M.R.E.s, packaged rations that, htough monotonous, are lean and sanitary. When the Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg Brown & Root showed up in July, to open a field kitchen, the rich, fried food, perhaps in combination with new microorganisms, made everyone in the company sick for a few days.

In an article in the movie-review section about ‘Fahrenheit 9/11 and the documentary tradition’:

Whatever you think of Michael Moore’s immensely satisfying movie about the awful Bush Administration and its destructive policies — and reasonable people can disagree, of course — one thing the cannot be said about “Fahrenheit 9/11” is that is an outlaw from the documentary tradition.

Ahh, such nuance, such subtlety. Such je ne sais quoi, that’s what separates the French and the New Yorker of today from the ordinary rabble — according to the polls, this means about 50% of the population of the United States — who might believe that, you know, Islamofascist terrorists are the big problem, not George Bush. What naivete you find on the prairies, Julian!

All of thiswaw is an insult to my intelligence. Either the New Yorker is of the belief that my opinions will be swayed by such cheap tactics — “Oh, this was after the mission was ‘accomplished’, eh? Ooooh, that Bush, just trying to kill off poor minorities! And lying, of course, always with the LIES!!!!!” or that I already agree with them but that I need constant but flimsy reassurance (“So they got sick from eating HALLIBURTON food, eh? Dick Cheney probably planned that personally — several years ago when he ran the company. It’s all part of the conspiracy!!!!!”) that my opinions are valid.

And as for the New Yorker telling me ‘what matters infinitely more’, I think that I’ve reached a point in my life where I can decide for myself what matters. What matters to the New Yorker, apparently, is throwing rocks at the President. That’s certainly their right, but the result, for me, is that I don’t trust them. You’ll find that people get sick whenever you radically change their diets overnight, but to the New Yorker, that verifiable fact is not as important as the opportunity to hang something on Halliburton. What else are they going to ignore or distort just because it’s convenient for propping up weaknesses in their broader argument?

So that’s the New Yorker. On Sunday, then, over breakfast, I glanced through the Washington Post and found more of this garbage.

In the magazine section (with an article about Marine Corps recruiters in Howard County, Maryland, headlined on the cover ‘Uncle Sam Wants Your Children’, the Gene Weingarten column this week is headlined ‘The News Could Be Verse’. It’s news as poetry, how droll:

Mission accomplished, you Iraqis are free.
We’ve returned your country, no COD.
Congrats! Our best wishes! We hope things stay calm!
We’re sure you’ll do fine, just like South Vietnam!

Yah. Fine. MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!!!!!!1 There was a banner on an aircraft carrier over a year ago that said MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!!!!@! LIES!!!1 HALLIBURTON!!!!!! GUANTANAMO!!!!! ASHCROFT!!!1 VIETNAM!!!! QUAGMIRE!!!

The other little poems are much the same.

And speaking of Guantanamo, this was in the comics section:

Boondocks [detail] 8 Aug 2004

Ahh, good one. Real comedy, that. You see, the joke is that Aaron McGruder, the author of Boondocks, is being held incommunicado at Guantanamo Bay for daring to expose the hypocrisies of the Bush administration! He finally went too far in criticizing the United States’ attacks on peaceful Afghanistan and Iraq, and he’s been hauled away. Everybody laugh at the funny joke!

Of course, McGruder is not in Cuba, unless he’s yukking it up over cigars with Castro. Instead he is at liberty somehow in AmeriKKKa, despite the best efforts of capitalist white-supremacists to keep him down. In pre-war Afghanistan and Iraq, on the other hand, you could be locked up, shot, or fed into a shredder for criticizing the government. But pointing that out would only distract from Bush’s LIES!!!!1, so instead we’ll joke that cartoonists are being hauled off to prison. Ha! Ha!

In an interview in December 2001, McGruder was asked about whether he felt any pressure to change his political tune:

Q. You don’t feel like you’re under siege, then?
A. No, because the Syndicate has not asked me to do anything different. And I’m in 250 newspapers, and none of them have asked me to do anything different. So I’ve been doing exactly what I want, and I haven’t felt any pressure to do otherwise.

But let’s not let reality get in the way: we’ve got a war to lose here, if only we can somehow lose our will.

(The full strip is actually a swipe at the Kedwards campaign, presumably because they are insufficiently in favor of redistribution of wealth, affirmative action, and reparations.)

Why should I take these people at all seriously? There is undoubtedly serious criticism that can be made of the Bush administration, of the dubious legality of the prison in Guantanamo Bay, of the prosecution of this war, of the government’s smoke-and-mirrors economic policy, and of the rapidly expanding government bureaucracy.

But I don’t see any of these arguments being made, at least not in a big way and in public. All I see is a bunch of unsubstantiated garbage about Bush’s National Guard record, and, more generally, blind, spewing hatred of the man personally. It’s not possible to have a political discussion in this country these days, because the Left has become the boy who cries LIES!!!!1 and the ‘right’ has justifiably plugged their ears. During the Clinton administration, the Republicans set up a permanent investigation that in the end could only nail Clinton with diddling an intern. Because Clinton had been investigated without visible result for much more serious offenses, nobody really cared: So he diddled an intern; at least he didn’t (fill in blank).

When the background noise of your rhetoric is that someone — in this case George Bush — is akin to Hitler, should you ever dig up any actual dirt on the guy nobody’s going to care unless your dirt turns out to be that he’s gassed six million Jews and taken over most of Europe. And that’s assuming that anyone who doesn’t already share your faith still gives a damn what you have to say.

Posted by tino at 14:05 9.08.04
This entry's TrackBack URL::

Links to weblogs that reference 'Sudden Bush Hatred Fatigue Syndrome' from Tinotopia.