The opening paragraphs of a recent New York Times article have become almost infamous:
President Obama must be touched by all the concern Republicans are showing him these days. As Congress examines security breaches at the White House, even opposition lawmakers who have spent the last six years fighting his every initiative have expressed deep worry for his security.
“The American people want to know: Is the president safe?” Representative Darrell Issa of California, the Republican committee chairman who has made it his mission to investigate all sorts of Obama administration missteps, solemnly intoned as he opened a hearing into the lapses on Tuesday.
Yet it would not be all that surprising if Mr. Obama were a little wary of all the professed sympathy.
In September 2009, I wrote a piece called “All Wee-Weed Up: Protests on the right, hypocrisy on the left.” (President Obama had used the expression “all wee-weed up,” and it was in the air.) People on the left were saying that they had never seen or heard anything like the hatred being expressed toward Obama — and this, mind you, was less than a year after George W. Bush had departed the White House. I can’t find that article on the Internet to link to. But I have it elsewhere. And I thought I would cull a few items from it, just to take you back down Memory Lane …
(Nixon used to say, “Let’s flick the scab off that wound.”)
Even before Bush was elected president, the kill-Bush talk and imagery started. When Governor Bush was delivering his 2000 convention speech, Craig Kilborn, a CBS talk-show host, showed him on the screen with the words “SNIPERS WANTED.”
Six years later, Bill Maher, the comedian-pundit, was having a conversation with John Kerry. He asked the senator what he had gotten his wife for her birthday. Kerry answered that he had taken her to Vermont. Maher said, “You could have went to New Hampshire and killed two birds with one stone.” (New Hampshire is an early primary state, of course.) Kerry said, “Or I could have gone to 1600 Pennsylvania and killed the real bird with one stone.”
This is the same Kerry who joked in 1988, “Somebody told me the other day that the Secret Service has orders that if George Bush is shot, they’re to shoot Quayle.” Ha ha ha! Kill Quayle!
In 2006, the New York comptroller, Alan Hevesi, spoke to graduating students at Queens College. He said that his fellow Democrat, Senator Charles Schumer, would “put a bullet between the president’s eyes if he could get away with it.”
A columnist in Britain’s Guardian, Charlie Brooker, wrote, “John Wilkes Booth, Lee Harvey Oswald, John Hinckley Jr. — where are you now that we need you?”
Betty Williams, the Northern Irishwoman who won the Nobel Peace Prize, said, “I have a very hard time with this word ‘non-violence,’ because I don’t believe that I am non-violent. … Right now, I would love to kill George Bush.”
A novelist, Nicholson Baker, was so filled with rage at Bush, he wrote a novel mulling the question of assassinating him.
In Britain, there was a TV movie — a “fictional documentary” — that was a kind of fantasy: on the assassination of Bush. (It was called “Death of a President.”)
In my 2009 piece, I wrote, “The anonymous photographer-blogger who maintains zombietime.com has done something remarkable: assembled a large collection of photos from anti-Bush and anti-Republican rallies — including Obama rallies. This makes for sickening viewing: all the signs calling for Bush’s death, all the severed Bush heads, the burning effigies, and so on. There is a delightful bumper sticker saying ‘SUPPORT BUSH’ and showing a noose.”
Etc., etc. Anyway, I thought some people might find this little walk down Memory Lane useful, in light of the sneering and insulting paragraphs in the New York Times.