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Works and Days

The Great Madness of 2004-10

July 9th, 2011 - 11:31 am

The First Symptoms of Hatred—2004 to 2008

For about seven years the nation lost its collective mind — and was only partially coming-to in November 2010.

During the years of insanity, Al Gore won both a Nobel Prize and an Academy Award for his propaganda film An Inconvenient Truth — before the disclosures of ClimateGate, new data on everything from the Himalayan glaciers to polar bear populations, realization that temperatures had not risen in the last 12 years, and the rather blatant and various money-making schemes of Gore, Inc. (that parlayed green advocacy into a billion-dollar, medieval exemption/carbon offset empire, several homes, and a propensity for carbon spewing private jet travel). Give Gore credit: he understood brilliantly that anger over Iraq and Katrina, his own popular vote victory in 2000 but subsequent lost presidency, his vein-bulging “he lied” screeds, and puppy dog pouts had combined, in perfect storm fashion, to locate Gorism at the nexus of anti-war, anti-Bush madness.

In these years of insanity, I used to be asked on-campus questions, but delivered as lectures, along the lines of “Bush’s polluting pals are ruining the planet when we know Al Gore’s cap and trade would save us. Now it’s too late!” Of course, in 2006 gasoline was relatively cheap, unemployment low, and there was growth in the economy. College students had the luxury of declaiming how George Bush had wiped out the polar bears as they waited for several good job offers.

Do you remember the hysteria over the supposed trampling of the Constitution? Those were the days of anger when Harold Koh, instead of writing briefs defending the Obama’s administration’s targeted killing by Predators and bypassing the War Powers Act in Libya, had been suing various Bush-Clinton-Bush administrations over the unfortunate at Guantanamo. At one time or another, a Sean Penn, a Hollywood producer (Rendition, Redacted, In the Valley of Elah, Lions for Lambs, etc.), a Whoopi Goldberg, a David Letterman, and legions more were all claiming that we had lost our freedoms to the satanic George Bush. These were the glory days of Dick Durbin comparing U.S. servicemen to mass killers, as John Kerry claimed they were quasi terrorists, in Harry Reid’s “lost” war, committing John Murtha’s war crimes — to the chorus of Michael Moore (guest of honor at the 2004 Democratic Convention) cheering on their killers as “minutemen.”

Until January 2009, almost nightly on the news, a liberal grandee would swear that Guantanamo, renditions, tribunals, preventative detention, Predators, wiretaps, intercepts, Iraq, etc. had ruined America in these days of “General Betray Us” ads and “suspension of disbelief” putdowns. Then in a matter of hours the verbiage suddenly stopped, abruptly so in January, 2009 — and has never returned to this day.

(I remember remarking to a former CSU colleague in those dark hours that the Congress had approved Iraq, with stirring speeches in support by Kerry, Reid, Clinton, and other liberal giants, that the public voiced a 75% approval when the 3-week war ended, and that Andrew Sullivan, as a tiny example, had mentioned Bush as Nobel laureate material and the need to use nukes against Saddam if he were behind the anthrax scare. Funny days, those, when Fareed Zakaria and Francis Fukuyama were writing serious, sober, and judicious briefs for preventative regime change in Iraq. The professor said to me, “That’s a lie. They all always opposed his amoral war and the Bush criminality.”)

In those days of “civility,” Bush hatred soon became a liberal creed. “Nuclar” (I don’t find such a tongue-twisted pronunciation as grievous as “corpse-man,” which reflects phonetic ignorance rather than clumsiness) was the stuff of NPR vignettes. Books came out about killing Bush; comics joked about his death. The Guardian ran an op-ed in which the writer longed for the return of John Wilkes Booth. Bush and Cheney as the Nazis or brownshirts or fascists was evoked by everyone from Al Gore and John Glenn to Garrison Keillor and George Soros.

The British were told to write Ohioans to stop the Bush coup in the 2004 election. Moving to Canada should Kerry lose (promises, promises) was a Hollywood boast. In these days before the BP spill, and assorted later disasters, Katrina was a mad Bush plot to disenfranchise people of color. Barney Frank was pontificating about the vendetta against Fannie and Freddie, as Maxine Waters et al. blasted scrutiny of the brilliant Franklin Raines, even as he prepared to walk away with tens of millions in “bonuses” after helping to wreck the American mortgage industry.

We forget now that the Bush administration (under which nearly 50% of the population was exempted from income tax and under which home ownership reached new highs) was pegged as some right-wing monstrosity that nonetheless caved and gave us No Child Left Behind, a prescription drug plan, and had allowed the liberal congressional cadre to turn mortgages into entitlements. Finally Bush was reduced to enlisting Bono to prove that he really did give billions in relief to Africa — even as the latter trashed him to the Left as the philanthropist schemed to avoid paying taxes to his soon-to-be-broke Irish homeland.

Quite mysteriously, radical Islamists trying to kill us became victims of Bush’s police state, and poor dying Oriana Fallaci was a lone voice in the desert warning us of our madness.

I’ll stop here and turn to the second phase that begin in 2008 after the page jump.

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