Political Animal


April 25, 2013 5:35 PM Hating Bush

By Ed Kilgore

Reading Jonathan Chait’s savage rebuttal today to the movement to favorably reconsider George W. Bush’s legacy, I was reminded, as others probably were as well, that Chait got an awful lot of attention back in the fall of 2003 for penning a piece announcing and defending his hatred of the 43d president. Here’s the lede for those who missed it:

I hate President George W. Bush. There, I said it. I think his policies rank him among the worst presidents in U.S. history. And, while I’m tempted to leave it at that, the truth is that I hate him for less substantive reasons, too. I hate the inequitable way he has come to his economic and political achievements and his utter lack of humility (disguised behind transparently false modesty) at having done so. His favorite answer to the question of nepotism—“I inherited half my father’s friends and all his enemies”—conveys the laughable implication that his birth bestowed more disadvantage than advantage. He reminds me of a certain type I knew in high school—the kid who was given a fancy sports car for his sixteenth birthday and believed that he had somehow earned it. I hate the way he walks—shoulders flexed, elbows splayed out from his sides like a teenage boy feigning machismo. I hate the way he talks—blustery self-assurance masked by a pseudo-populist twang. I even hate the things that everybody seems to like about him. I hate his lame nickname-bestowing— a way to establish one’s social superiority beneath a veneer of chumminess (does anybody give their boss a nickname without his consent?). And, while most people who meet Bush claim to like him, I suspect that, if I got to know him personally, I would hate him even more.

Now Chait is a pretty good hater; shortly after writing the piece on Bush, he briefly authored a TNR blog entitled “Diary of a Dean-o-Phobe” that began with the observation that “recently I’m finding that Dean hatred is crowding out Bush hatred in my mental space.”

But looking back at his piece on Bush, what really strikes me is that Chait spent a lot of time comparing liberal hatred for Bush to conservative hatred for Clinton, finding the latter to be both more widespread and hysterical, and far less justified. In 2013, in the light of more than four years of Obama-hatred among Republicans that makes the earlier hatred of Clinton look like light mockery, any impulse among liberals to “reassess” poor W. isn’t likely to survive a millisecond or two.

Now the reality is that a lot of the conservative “reassessment” going on isn’t aimed at people like Chait or me, or even the general public. It’s aimed at conservatives who used to lionize Bush as The Liberator and a world-historical colossus, but then gradually came (for a variety of sincere and insincere reasons) to loath him as just another Republican betrayer of the Cause. Enduring Bush fans want today’s Republicans to consider re-embracing Bush policies like comprehensive immigration reform instead of attacking them, and beyond that, he’s the last Republican presidential nominee who actually won an election.

So those of us outside this intra-Republican argument can either use this opportunity to vent some more spleen, or let it go, particularly now that Barbara has significantly reduced the possibility of another Bush presidency anytime in the immediate future.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.


  • g on April 25, 2013 6:14 PM:

    conservatives who used to lionize Bush as The Liberator and a world-historical colossus, but then gradually came (for a variety of sincere and insincere reasons) to loath him as just another Republican betrayer of the Cause.

    No. Conservatives only came to "loathe" Bush because he was a loser, not because he betrayed their cause. As soon as his numbers plunged down, they disavowed him - not on principle but because their tribal instincts to shun the weak. Now that his numbers have eked up, they think they might be capable of clasping him to their breasts again.

  • c u n d gulag on April 25, 2013 6:14 PM:

    NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO!


    Let it go?
    LET IT GO!!!!!!!!!

    Can a decade of children left behind, let it go?

    Can the people who suffered economically in during and after his years, and the country itself still facing massive deficits, because of his stupid tax cuts for the rich, along with two wars and occupations put on The Bank of China's credit cards?

    Can the dead, wounded and their families from 9/11, in NYC, DC, and that field in PA, let it go?

    Can Pat Tillman's family let it go?

    Can the troops outside of Tora Bora, who fought their way to bin Laden's hiding place, let it go?

    Can can our dead and wounded in the whole 10+ year pointless excercise in Aftghanistan, let it go?

    Can the soldiers, news people, and support personnel who died in the invasion of Iraq, let it go?

    Can the thousands of dead American military personnel, National Gaurd troops, and military contractors dead, the tens of thousand wounded & crippled, mentally and physically/ and the hundred of thousands (if not millions) of dead, wounded, and displaced Iraqi's, let it go?

    Can the people still at Gitmo, let it go?
    The people guarding them?

    Can the people tortured and renditioned, and their families, let it go?
    Can the torturers and renditioners themselves, and their families, let it go?

    Can the people of New Orleans, dead, injured, shot, abandoned, and displaced from their homes, let it go?

    Can the Terry Schiavo's husband, and the facility she was in, and the school next to it, let it go?

    Can the homeless homeowners and their children, let it go?

    Can the people whose pensions were stolen, their 401K Plans decimated, let it go?

    Can all of the people unemployed, homeless, and without health care, after the economic collapse, let it go?

    Somehow, if you were to ask them, my reasonable suspicions is, they'd say, "HELL F*CKING NO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! ARE YOU F*CKING CRAZY?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!"

    Can you imagine what we'd have done to a foreign power that did as damage as one Amrican man, and his "Ship of Fools" Mis-administration, did, in eight, of the longest, short years?

    That's a record any Totalitarian Leader and War Monger would envy, from the time of the dawn of human civilization!

    The fact that he and his boss, Cheney, and their whole Evil Zoo Crew aren't rotting in some Hague Prison until their deaths, and their corpses either cremated and scattered to the winds, or dropped in the sea for crabs and flounders to sh*t on, is a disgrace to anything this country once claimed to stand for - whether in reality or not, we did.

    NEVER LET IT GO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    The next Conservative may be even worse...

  • P on April 25, 2013 6:16 PM:

    If you think Clinton-hatred was "light mockery," you need to get your memory checked. Rev. Jerry Falwell advertised videos for sale that claimed that Clinton was a murderous drug dealer. You couldn't open your email without getting another copy of the Clinton Death List--the list of all the people that Bill Clinton had murdered to cover up the fact that he was a rapist, or a drug dealer, or a Russian spy. Demented millionaire ponied up cash to finance the hunt for the fabled "Black Clinton Love Child" whose existence, once proven would sink Clinton's career once and for all. At the same time, right-wing talk radio hosts repeated the story that Hillary Clinton was simultaneously a lesbian and a nymphomaniac who had murdered Vince Foster. Oh, and when all this failed,a corrupt Special Prosecutor conspired with right-wing groups to create a bogus impeachment case in a last desperate effort to remove Clinton from office. "Light mockery" indeed!

  • Happy Dog LA on April 25, 2013 6:19 PM:

    FWIW I don't think "conservatives" hate Obama as much or in the same way as they hated Clinton. In the 90's they copped an attitude of hating Clinton in part because he took away their White House candy, but then they found hating him helped the cause of pushing him around, forcing his policies ever rightward as he begged for their approval. On the other hand, in a deep way, they fear Obama, as someone who represents a future they have no part in. They fear his intelligence and his perspicacity. Most of all, they fear his ability to win elections and to keep public opinion on his side.

  • Mark-NC on April 25, 2013 6:30 PM:

    I've got news for the lot of you. It isn't a contest about whether the Repugnant Ones hate Obama more than Clinton.

    This is very simple. They hate ANYBODY who is not one of them. They treat all "others" exactly the same - as un-American, illegitimate, ignorant, swines who want to destroy anything and everything good about America.

    The next Dem, regardless of who that is, will be treated the same!

  • T2 on April 25, 2013 6:51 PM:

    I'm with gulag.

  • Doug on April 25, 2013 6:55 PM:

    I haven't the time to hate GW, I'm 62 and I want to enjoy whatever time I have left by seeing that every f*cked up thing he ever did is consigned to history's trash bin. Which will then be followed, among all but the kool-aid drinkers, by his "reputation".
    Now, had this post been about Cheyney...

  • jkl; on April 25, 2013 7:41 PM:

    Historians already have Dubya at the near bottom. Once information is unsealed as years go by, and more insiders spill their details, the gig will really be up--and he will be worst.president.ever.

  • Anonymous on April 25, 2013 7:51 PM:

    "in the light of more than four years of Obama-hatred among Republicans that makes the earlier hatred of Clinton look like light mockery..."

    are ya' kidding? President Clinton had a coup perpetrated against him. Because he was first elected with only 43% of the vote not only did the vile republicans act like he was illegitimate, so did the vile blue dog dems like Nunn from GA (an obama favorite who scuttled Clinton's attempt to lift the gay military ban) and Shelby of AL who's still there but is a rethug now. Obama ain't had it half bad and it's mostly because he caves to the thugs every chance he gets. cuts to social security and medicare? obama's a republican dream.

  • Citizen Alan on April 25, 2013 10:31 PM:

    I will never stop hating George W. Bush. Never. Not if I live to be 110. If God is so kind as to let me live to see it, I expect that when I learn Bush is dead, I will drop to my knees and weep tears of joy.

    As far as I'm concerned, George Bush killed this nation. We will never close Gitmo. We will never fix income disparity. We will never do anything about our collapsing infrastructure. We will never stop being afraid of Muslim terrorists. We will never do anything to stop the destruction of our environment or reduce global climate change. And all because George W. Bush became President and deliberately and with malice aforethought destroyed our economy.

    George W. Bush is why I hope there is a hell.

  • emjayay on April 26, 2013 1:24 AM:

    Jeeze people, give it a rest. If Al Gore had been elected (yeah, I know) everything would have turned out all exctly the same because, you know, THEY WERE EXACTLY THE SAME TWO PEAS IN THE CORRUPT CORPORATE POD. Or something.

  • Roberts on April 26, 2013 8:26 AM:

    I be a hatin' on republicans in general...Can't spend too much time hatin' as there are State Houses to reclaim from the destroyers of democracy....
    Not as succinct as cund, but sincere..

  • Dredd on April 26, 2013 11:43 AM:

    A lot of people will resist or embrace hatred of people or policy when they find out about Oil-Qaeda.

    I hate Oil-Qaeda, not the sick people in it who need help big time.