October 31, 2004

THE DEEP ROOTS OF BUSH-HATING. Larry Ribstein overcomes his recent reluctance to blog about politics to remind us that the virulent hatred for President Bush, which during the campaign has found expression in criticism of the war in Iraq, was well in place before the war. He sets out a long quote from a Michael Moore email sent out on September 12, 2001. Moore wrote:

In just 8 months, Bush gets the whole world back to hating us again. He withdraws from the Kyoto agreement, walks us out of the Durban conference on racism, insists on restarting the arms race — you name it, and Baby Bush has blown it all. . . . .

Ah, I remember on the morning of September 11th being told by one of my colleagues that the attacks were a response to our withdrawal from the Durban conference on racism. Living in Madison for the last twenty years, I’d grown used to hearing strong left-wing opinion without verbally reacting, but that was the moment when I started to say no. It wasn’t a decision I made, but purely instinctive revulsion that this was someone’s first assessment of the events of that terrible day.

What the Iraq war has done, Ribstein suggests, is to give the extreme left an issue that works in discussions with more moderate voters. But I would note that the extreme left lost the candidate it wanted in the primaries. Even among the Democrats, a more moderate position was sought, and Kerry got the nomination. Kerry has made a mush of his positions over the months by trying to keep the extreme left segment of the voters, and though he lost me by doing this, I still am somewhat sympathetic to the problem he faced, which is pretty similar to the problem Bush faces on his extreme right. Like Ribstein, I hope Bush wins and I hope, if he does, the Bush haters settle down. But, by the same token, I hope that if Kerry wins, the Kerry haters settle down. There is difficult work ahead for whoever wins, and he’s going to need our support. I think reasonable, moderate, sensible people are in the great majority in this country, and passionate as things may feel as the election comes down to the wire, when the election is over, we’ll be paying a lot less attention to overheated windbags like Moore.

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