The Corner

Notes on the End of Bush Derangement Syndrome

Given Climategate II, no noticeable heating of the planet during the last decade, and all sorts of questionable research on supposed problems like polar bear population declines and Himalayan glacier melting — not to mention the wind and solar debacles here and in Europe — the man-made-global-warming movement is about done for now. We sometimes forget that the fad gained its traction during the Bush years, fueled in large part by the myth that a Texas Bible-thumper was going to prevent wise technocrats from saving the planet from the neanderthals. 

The years 2001 to 2009 saw a lot of that — hysteria attributable to Bush derangement syndrome. I say hysteria because, like global warming, there no longer seems to be much furor over, for example, guidelines on stem-cell research. Iraq has become one of the administration’s “greatest achievements.” Afghanistan is no longer the “good” war that we “took our eye off.” Renditions, Guantanamo, tribunals, preventive detention, Predators, and the Patriot Act are no longer destroying the Constitution. Bombing a Muslim oil-producing country is no longer a war crime. 

It is as if all these -isms and -ologies of the early 21st century — and their representatives, from Al Gore to Michael Moore, Cindy Sheehan, and Sean Penn — were entirely negative, not positive developments, valid simply because they were the opposite of what Bush was (or supposedly was) for or against. With Bush removed from the calculus, the progressive community is silent and sometimes even embarrassed about the issues that once inspired them.

In psychological terms, there was some sort of deviant paranoia in which the progressive mind felt that all sorts of terrible things were happening beyond its control and, by blaming all of them on Bush, gained a sort of release from examining any of these things on their merits. Obama was a creation of this malady: Just as Bush had cooked the planet, so Obama would cool it and the seas would recede; just as Bush had destroyed civil liberties, so Obama would restore them by stopping renditions and closing Guantanamo; just as Bush was anti-science, so Obama would promote scientifically “proven” man-made global warming; and just as Bush had polarized the world, so Obama would reset relations and win over unduly snubbed Russia, Iran, Syria, Venezuela, China, Cuba, etc.

But because there was never any real Bush illness, there could not be any real Obama cure — and so the hysteria quietly subsided and is now being Trotskyized away.

NRO contributor Victor Davis Hanson is the Martin and Illie Anderson Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution and the author, most recently, of The Case for Trump.

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