Oh! Bama!

February 2, 2009 in Politics

Peter Berkowitz has written an opinion for the Wall Street Journal titled "Bush Hatred and Obama Euphoria Are Two Sides of the Same Coin."  His argument is well constructed and (for once) I'll let it speak for itself... except to say that OF COURSE Bush hatred/Obama euphoria are often found in the same person; anything else would be bizarre!

At first glance, Bush hatred and Obama euphoria could not be more different. Hatred of Mr. Bush went well beyond the partisan broadsides typical of democratic politics. For years it disfigured its victims with open, indeed proud, loathing for the very manner in which Mr. Bush walked and talked. It compelled them to denounce the president and his policies as not merely foolish or wrong or contrary to the national interest, but as anathema to everything that made America great.

In contrast, the euphoria surrounding Mr. Obama's run for president conferred upon the candidate immunity from criticism despite his newness to national politics and lack of executive experience, and regardless of how empty his calls for change. At the same time, it inspired those in its grips, repeatedly bringing them tears of joy throughout the long election season. With Mr. Obama's victory in November and his inauguration last week, it suffused them with a sense that not only had the promise of America at last been redeemed but that the world could now be transfigured.

In fact, Bush hatred and Obama euphoria -- which tend to reveal more about those who feel them than the men at which they are directed -- are opposite sides of the same coin. Both represent the triumph of passion over reason. Both are intolerant of dissent. Those wallowing in Bush hatred and those reveling in Obama euphoria frequently regard those who do not share their passion as contemptible and beyond the reach of civilized discussion. Bush hatred and Obama euphoria typically coexist in the same soul. And it is disproportionately members of the intellectual and political class in whose souls they flourish.

Berkowitz is of course a neo-con and it shows through his writing, but that's besides the point. These sort of passions run unbridled in many people we all know -- and it colors their ability to perceive the political process properly. Among Berkowitz' chief points is that such beliefs are indoctrined early by nurture, and later by curriculum and exposure via universities and the media (polarization, and the controversy which accompanies it, sells).

Obama euphoria will undoubtably fade as the recession drags on. My hope is that those who cling to irrational Obama euphoria (and as I write that, what would rational Obama euphoria look like? It seems that so much of it is not so much Obama euphoria but "he's not Bush" euphoria) will not, when it inevitably wears off, find themselves in a state of disappointment. Don't get me wrong, there will be much about the 44th president to be excited about. Despite my high expectations, however, I do not anticipate much which will be euphoria-worthy. Will those who idolize him today still admire him in two years? And even if he is admirable, will those people still feel that way if he does not live up to unbelievably high expectations?

As an aside - I use the word euphoria frequently here to emphasize the extreme nature of the emotion the word is meant to convey.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: