Bush Derangement Syndrome: Again

Only a tiny number of votes separated then Governor George Bush and the Vice-President Al Gore in the 2000 presidential election. George Bush was finally determined to have won a majority of votes in Florida, a majority of the Electoral College, and consequently the election for president. All this occurred despite the fact that Al Gore received a small, but very real majority, of the popular vote. The controversy had the salutary effect of reminding us of the thoughts of The Founders on the structure of government. Unfortunately, the close election also aroused deep partisan antipathy that has continued to this day. For some number of angry Democrats, Bush was “selected” not “elected.” Use of this expression at a Democratic gathering is as sure to arouse a positive response. Some Democrats have never internally accepted Bush’s legitimacy, and it shows.

One might have thought that Bush’s clear victory in 2004 (286-251 in the Electoral College and 53.16% to 46.65% in the popular vote) would dispel disputes about Bush’s legitimacy. Perhaps still yoked to their residual anger from 2000, Democratic partisans could not pull away from belief that the Swift Boat political ads, disputing Senator John Kerry war hero status, unfairly tipped the election to Bush’s favor. If anything, the anti-Bush antipathy hardened rather than eased after 2004. Indeed, Charles Krauthammer, a former psychiatrist, coined the phrase “Bush Derangement Syndrome” to describe otherwise normal people who seem loose their grip on rationality whenever the subject touches on President George Bush. Krauthammer’s clinical description of the syndrome is “the acute onset of paranoia in otherwise normal people in reaction to the policies, the presidency — nay — the very existence of George W. Bush.”

This week a Rasmussen poll documented the most recent manifestation of this pernicious affliction. Released on May 4, 2007, the poll reported that:

“Democrats in America are evenly divided on the question of whether George W. Bush knew about the 9/11 terrorist attacks in advance. Thirty-five percent (35%) of Democrats believe he did know, 39% say he did not know, and 26% are not sure.”

If Bush knew about 9/11 in advance, he might have picked a more heroic circumstance to be found in than reading a story about a pet goat to elementary school children in Sarasota Florida during the attacks. Indeed, the Left blogosphere spent the last six years portraying Bush reaction to 9/11 as one of confusion and disorientation. If Bush knew about 9/11 in advance, he could have flown directly back to Washington in faux bravery rather than hopscotching from an Air Force base in Louisiana to one in Nebraska. If we may expand on Krauthammer’s initial work, another symptom of Bush Derangement Syndrome is the ability to simultaneous and fervently believe two contradictory propositions.

There is no plausible evidence that Bush knew in advance about 9/11, so how can so many Democrats maintain such a ludicrous proposition? Of course, there are always the extremists lurking in the muck at the ends of the political spectrum. The far Left and their associated web sites have been propagating such theories on Bush’s advance knowledge of 9/11. In addition, through the efforts of popular, though intellectually undisciplined, entertainers like Rosie O’Donnell or movie producers like Michael Moore, these notions and similarly improbable ones have been deliberately spread to infect the main stream consciousness. Such efforts, however, would not be fruitful if serious Democrats and others did not acquiesce to the crazies in their midst. Former President Jimmy Carter lent credibility to Moore by inviting him to his box at the Democratic National Convention, while Rosie O’Donnell has a daily presence on ABC’s The View. The View’s credibility is undergirded by ABC’s news correspondent Barbara Walters.

The Right is not immune to such attitudes. During the Clinton Administration and during particular embarrassing times with respect to impeachment and the Monica Lewinsky scandal, President Bill Clinton launched military strikes against Iraq and Afghanistan. Some Republican lawmakers wondered out loud whether these attacks represented a “Wag the Dog” scenario. However, the notion was never strongly pushed by Republicans.

The problem with the rise in saliency of vicious anti-Bush ideas is that such hatred needs fuel to survive. Believers must either consume themselves or spread their hatred to others. If the first turns out to be the case, extremists on the Left will burn brightly for a short time, but in the end consume themselves alone and be forgotten. If the latter turns out to be the case, the hatred will spread to others parts of the polity. That is the real danger.

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