Friday, August 21, 2009

No Apology Needed: Ambinder is Right About Left's 'Gut Hatred' of George W. Bush

Andrew Card, former chief of staff in the first George W. Bush administration, has repudiated former DHS secretary Tom Ridge's claim that color-coded terror alerts were politically motivated:

“We went over backwards repeatedly and with great discipline to make sure politics did not influence any national security and homeland security decisions,” former White House chief of staff Andy Card told POLITICO. “The clear instructions were to make sure politics never influenced anything.”
Check the article for the full story. The Card quotation is provided for context. What's more interesting is the related intra-leftist debate over Marc Ambinder's claim that the radical left's skepticism of the terror alerts was based on "gut hatred of President Bush."

Marcy Wheeler, at Firedoglake, hammered Ambinder, saying:

Ambinder's lame explanation for why we all knew the terror alerts were bullshit but he didn't is particularly atrocious for two reasons.

First, he relies on a stereotype--the activists motivated solely by their gut hatred of George Bush--to avoid reflecting on why normal people relying on simple empiricism had access to truths that journalists somehow couldn't access.

But then there's the stereotype itself, the activists motivated solely by their gut hatred of George Bush. Accepting for a moment the totally bullshit premise that all of the people who believed the terror alerts were bogus hated Bush and were motivated soley by their hatred of Bush--accepting that false premise as true--how do you think those "activists" got their gut hatred of George Bush? Were they all birthed with it?
Glenn Greenwald, unsurprisingly, jumped on the no-Bush-hatred bandwagon:

Ambinder's belief that there is nothing other than blind "Bush hatred" that could have justified such a belief -- and his accompanying self-defense that journalists like him had no way of knowing any of this -- is patently false.
The timing here is crucial. Ridge claimed that terror alerts were manipulated during the general election of 2004, when G.W. Bush was running against Democrat John Kerry. So there's something of a chicken-egg problem, and it's easily resolved. Leftists hated Bush well before the 2004 election. It's rather funny now that leftists would use Ridge's book as "evidence" that they were right about the administration "manipulating people's perceptions of fear and terror," since Secretary Ridge was also certainly hated as one of the Evil Bush-Cheney Nazi Administration's henchmen. In fact, we have it from none other than Firedoglake's own "Thers" that the Evil Bush-Cheney Cabal was sent by the devil himself, well before November of 2004:

I remember first encountering the "Irrational Bush Hatred" thing back during the Great Run-Up to War in 2002. I was at first baffled by it, being younger and, happily, less acquainted with the twisty backwards-logic of the wingnut reptile mind. There was always a certain inverted genius about the accusation. Because I did hate George W. Bush! But it was nothing personal. Strictly business. See, I thought, correctly, as it emerged, and as indeed was absurdly easy to figure out at the time, that George Bush was making up ridiculous crap in order to sucker the nation into a disastrous war that would get a lot of people killed for no sane reason. It seemed to me, not unreasonably, that someone who would do such a thing was kind of an asshole. And hence I concluded that George W. Bush was an utter asshole, as were his advisers, cronies, Sith-lords, sycophants, and Internet Fan-Base. They were all crazy assholes. And they still are!
Note also, as we can see in the Zombietime photo above from 2003, that visceral hatred of President Bush - uniformly accompanied by death threats - was a constant from the earliest days of the administration.

What's also interesting is that Ambinder,
in his apology for using the "gut hatred" line, admits that journalists are natural allies to the nihilhist netroots bloggers:

It was wrong to use the phrase "gut hatred." Had I spent more time thinking about the post, I would have chosen a different phrase. And I should have ... Though American politics has never been beanbag and it has never been nice, for political journalists, our not calling out Republicans on these tactics -- not calling them strikes, as they were definitely within the strike zone -- was our deepest failing.
Isn't that fascinating? Two blog posts, one at Firedoglake, the home of the hysterically dishonest "Hammering" Jane Hamsher, and one by Glenn "Sockpuppet" Greenwald, and Ambinder offers an epic mea culpa? That's really too much.

Ambinder was right in the first place, and he should have stuck to his guns. The left hates Bush. Indeed, leftist ideology is an ideology of hatred. Ambinder should know this as a "journalist," but a quick Google search would have helped. Charles Krauthammer offered his psychological diagnosis of "
Bush Derangement Syndrome" in 2003. Dr. Sanity wrote a retrospective of Bush hatred in 2004, "The Psychology of Bush Hatred." She links to a Virginia Postrel piece, eviscerating Maureen Dowd, Bush-hater extraordinaire, in July 2004: "The Voice of Fear."

But note this from Peter Berkowitz's article, "
The Insanity of Bush Hatred":
Bush hatred is not a rational response to actual Bush perfidy. Rather, Bush hatred compels its progressive victims--who pride themselves on their sophistication and sensitivity to nuance--to reduce complicated events and multilayered issues to simple matters of good and evil. Like all hatred in politics, Bush hatred blinds to the other sides of the argument, and constrains the hater to see a monster instead of a political opponent.
And Berkowitz is specifically describing the vicious hatred that had its orgins well before anyone in the administration even contemplated manipulated color-coded terror alerts. It's a shame that Marc Ambinder would now deign to elevate the denials of the very same Bush haters to a level of rational and respectable discourse.