Last year, Charles Krauthammer coined his “Pressure Cooker Theory” for the explosion of hatred from the left, after an all-too-brief respite in the culture war after 9/11:
The loathing goes far beyond the politicians. Liberals as a body have gone quite around the twist. I count one all-star rock tour, three movies, four current theatrical productions and five best sellers (a full one-third of the New York Times list) variously devoted to ridiculing, denigrating, attacking and devaluing this president, this presidency and all who might, God knows why, support it.
How to explain? With apologies to Dr. Freud, I propose the Pressure Cooker Theory of Hydraulic Release.
The hostility, resentment, envy and disdain, all superheated in Florida, were not permitted their natural discharge. Came 9/11 and a lid was forced down. How can you seek revenge for a stolen election by a nitwit usurper when all of a sudden we are at war and the people, bless them, are rallying around the flag and hailing the commander in chief? With Bush riding high in the polls, with flags flying from pickup trucks (many of the flags, according to Howard Dean, Confederate), the president was untouchable.
The Democrats fell unnaturally silent. For two long, agonizing years, they had to stifle and suppress. It was the most serious case of repression since Freud’s Anna O. went limp. The forced deference nearly killed them. And then, providentially, they were saved. The clouds parted and bad news rained down like manna: WMDs, Abu Ghraib, Richard Clarke, Paul O’Neill, Joe Wilson and, most important, continued fighting in Iraq.
Stripped of his halo, the president’s ratings went down. The spell was broken. He was finally once again human and vulnerable. With immense relief, the critics let loose.
A very large component of what President Bush’s critics let loose with have been non-stop comparisons of President Bush with Adolf Hitler, and America in general with Nazi Germany. Both of which are disgusting examples of moral equivalence that are subtle–and sometimes not so-subtle–forms of Holocaust denial, which Jonah Goldberg noted when the first “Bush=Hitler” ads appeared courtesy of Moveon.org in late 2003:
I don’t say this because I feel a passionate need to defend George Bush. I would make the exact same points if Al Gore were president. I would make the exact same points if anybody running for the Democratic nomination were president. This has nothing to do with partisanship. It has to do with the fact that such comparisons are slanderous to the United States and historical truth and amount to Holocaust denial. When you say that anything George Bush has done is akin to what Hitler did, you make the Holocaust into nothing more than an example of partisan excess. Tax cuts are not genocide, as so many Democrats have suggested over the years. (For example,. during the Contract with America debate, Charles Rangel complained that “Hitler wasn’t even talking about doing these things” that were in the Contract with America. In other words, the Contract with America was in some way worse than what Hitler did. At the end of the day, that is Holocaust denial.)
“Darn those Republicans” does not equal “Darn those Nazis.” The Patriot Act is not the final solution. The handful of men in Guantanamo may not all be guilty of terrorism, but it’s more than reasonable to assume they are. And no matter how you try to contort it, Gitmo is not the same thing as Auschwitz or Dachau. There are no children there. You don’t get carted off to Cuba and gassed if you criticize the president or if you are one-quarter Muslim. And, inversely, there was no reasonable justification for throwing the Jews and the Gypsies and all the others into the death camps. The Jews weren’t terrorists or members of a terrorist organization. To say that the men in Guantanamo