From a reader:
Jonah, you know I love your sense of humor and sometimes even your point of view. But you should reign in your Cornerites’ Clinton-bashing. It undercuts the recent plea made by Bush-defenders about the harsh “tone” of the alleged Bush-haters and how disrepectful, coarse, and nasty our public discourse has now become.
Exhibit A: The Corner of the last few days. Plainly, the Clinton-hatred was always there, was very real, and was far more personal than the mostly policy-based criticisms of Dubya you see in the mainstream and liberal press. A bit much (and I’m no Clinton fan).
Me: I do see the point and for the most part I’m just letting readers vent. That said I will add one twist. Those who hate Bush — from the “respectable” hatred of Jonathan Chait to those buffoons who call him a Nazi — almost all say they hate Bush because of his policies. Those who hate Clinton hate Clinton because they hate Clinton. It may seem counter-intuitive in today’s climate, but it seems to me that the Clinton haters have the more honorable position. I know lots of liberals who have views far to the left of Clinton’s. But I don’t hate those people. I like those people because they’re decent folks with whom I have sincere disagreements. My feelings for Clinton are derived from the man himself.
It seems to me to hate a man because of his policies alone is not a respectable position, unless of course you make the argument that the policies themselves are flatly evil. I think that’s an almost impossible sell with Bush. Indeed, most of the people who claim to hate Bush for his foreign policy say they love McCain, Colin Powell, Joe Lieberman etc. But McCain’s et al’s foreign policy views are not so much different from Bush’s. Meanwhile, on domestic policy Bush is quite liberal in most areas and where he is conservative he is still within the mainstream. To hate him because he likes tax cuts and conservative judges would require the consistent Bush-hater to hate all people who agree with Bush on those points. And I see no such rhetoric to support that. Ultimately, much of the Bush hatred (that isn’t personal) stems from liberals who just hate anybody who is successful at preventing them from getting their way. And, I do believe that hating people solely because they disagree with you is an instinct of totalitarians not democrats (note the small “d”).