A blog whose very name constitutes a fundamental lie lacks the a priori legitimacy to be taken for much serious consideration. But publisher Joe Gandelman's poorly-written essay this morning cries out for a response. The piece, "Birth of the Professional Obama Haters," argues that the emerging partisan opposition to Barack Obama represents a "harbinger" of an unprecedented campaign of demonization of a presidential administration:
Every President has had his contingent of seemingly professional haters, sometimes stemming from policy but sometimes stemming from the need to market an opposition persona, increase readership or an audience, or rally partisan followers to do battle to halt specific polices. The degree of hatred varies in both its intensity and justification.One example focusing on the right's resistance to a president-elect with an Islamic middle name is hardly an "unprecedented" display of political hatred. Note, too, the mention of how George W. Bush got "his share" of haters. You think?
Democrat Bill Clinton had his big share of professional Clinton haters (both prominent and not so prominent would say things such as “He’s not MY President…”) and Democrats decried it and some Republicans defended it. Then came Republican George Bush who got his share of haters, then Republicans decried it (the most typical defense was to try and go on the offense and lump those who’d strongly criticize the President on policy with the professional Bush haters as suffering from “Bush derangement syndrome” — a tidy way to try to discredit all critics suggesting they were all unreasonable and not having legitimate grounds for strong criticism) and some Democrats who decried the lack of respect for Clinton defended it.
But here in December 2008 we ‘re seeing a special kind of political hatred — way early in the game. President Elect Barack Obama has not put his fanny in the Oval Office chair for one second yet, and there is an intensity now among some Republican conservatives to push ... hot buttons — a probable haringer [sic] of what is likely to come. Amid reports that the economy is not just bad but is on the brink of tanking, their emphasis is not on policy but overt or slightly disguised overt political demonization. Using whatever they feel can stick to rally their audience and/or readership.
Believe it or not, they’re still beating the now-thinly-disguised drum over Obama’s middle name “Hussein.” Which they wouldn’t do if it had been Walker or even Schwartz. Isn’t it time to call THIS detailed in this post for what it is? It’s politics of hate couched in (barely) plausible deniability.
I've been down the road of comparative demonization before. As intense as things have been over the last year, throughout the primaries and now the presidential transition, nothing even compares to the attacks we've long seen on President George W. Bush, Vice-President Dick Cheney, the "evil" neocon imperialist warmongers, and the "Christianist" social conservative wing of the Republican Party.
Has anyone seen Barack Obama burned in effigy? Can anyone point me to a prominent conservative who has called for the death of Barack Obama? Last July, of course, Spencer Ackerman called for the execution of President Bush following war crimes tribunals at the Hague, and he's hardly the first.
One can't attend an antiwar rally without untold signs, banners, and figurative displays attacking the president in the most filthy language imaginable, calling for impeachment, or exhorting protesters to shoot him and hang him up by a tree. At a fifth anniversary protest against the Iraq war this year, one protester hoisted a sign reading, "Bush Is a Lousy F**K and WE HATE HIM."
Demonization of the Bush administration began well before G.W. Bush "put his fanny in the Oval Office chair." We had weeks of unbridled hatred during the Florida recount in 2000, and it's been non-stop "BusHitler" ever since.
Barack Obama will be my president. He is, of course, a documented liar and a Machiavellian sleezeball. I don't have to like him, but I will support him in a time of existential crisis, and I pray that he demonstrates one ounce of the courage and presidential leadership that Bush 43 has shown these past eight years.
[Endnote: Gandelman's quotation above was edited for punctuation, and he's got that dangling dependent clause that's bugging me: "Which they wouldn't do if it had been Walker..." I know blogging is an informal medium, and all of us make our ample share of typos and so forth, but the folks at "The Moderate Voice" are professional journalists - the bleedin' wankers ought to damn well proofread!]