Photo credits: TheScroogeReport
Peter Berkowitz’ column in the WSJ, Bush Hatred and Obama Euphoria Are Two Sides of the Same Coin, reminded me of a Newsweek article by Sharon Begley last February titled When It’s Head Versus Heart, The Heart Wins.
Berkowitz would agree, but with a twist. In today’s piece he argues the opposite passions toward Bush and Obama of hatred and euphoria typically coexist in the same heart, and he suggests individuals with hearts so afflicted continue to rule the day.
In constructing his argument, Berkowitz makes some good points – maybe even two or three. He writes:
In fact, Bush hatred and Obama euphoria -- which tend to reveal more about those who feel them than the men at which they are directed -- are opposite sides of the same coin. Both represent the triumph of passion over reason. Both are intolerant of dissent. Those wallowing in Bush hatred and those reveling in Obama euphoria frequently regard those who do not share their passion as contemptible and beyond the reach of civilized discussion. Bush hatred and Obama euphoria typically coexist in the same soul. And it is disproportionately members of the intellectual and political class in whose souls they flourish.
I likely qualify as a member of the intellectual and political class noted above, however, I’ve not once succumbed to Obama euphoria, and although I’ve been almost continuously outraged by the Bush Administration’s policies since the 2000 election, I doubt my feelings toward our 43rd president ever congealed into pure hatred.
As a former member of the Democratic Party who re-registered as non-affiliated last June to protest the sexism and misogyny that Hillary Clinton endured, I can attest to the intolerance of dissent by those “reveling in Obama euphoria.” Since the early days of the Democratic primary, I’ve felt isolated from most members of my usual circle of friends and acquaintances.
My position notwithstanding, scanning the readers’ comments on the message boards of liberal online news outlets easily confirms Berkowitz’ claims that Bush hatred and Obama euphoria are two sides to the same coin.
Recently, for example, the Huffington Post provided a video of the Today Show that featured Jenna and Barbara Bush reading the letter they wrote to the Obama girls in which the Bush twins, playing the role of older sisters, offered some poignant advice to Malia and Sasha. The Today Show’s Meredith Vieira and Matt Lauer were both visibly moved.
Here’s a sampling of the hatred toward even Bush’s daughters expressed in readers’ comments from Obama supporters in response to the above video:
*Who TF Cares?
Every day it's something about these two drunks and thier letter to the Obama girls. They are starting to rival Paris and Lindsey on the annoying scale.
*All the Bushes need to just go TF away.
*"We are still relevant! We are still relevant! Look over HERE! Hello! Anyone?!? Pay attention to us!"
*Zzzzzzzz, just go away.
*They need to go away. No one cares what they have to say!
Reflecting on the 2008 presidential election, I agree with Begley’s contention in Newsweek that voters in America are more apt to vote with their hearts than their heads. And Berkowitz is right in calling the media to account for its preference in appealing to the emotions rather than intelligence:
Bush hatred and Obama euphoria are particularly toxic because they thrive in and have been promoted by the news media, whose professional responsibility, it has long been thought, is to gather the facts and analyze their significance, and by the academy, whose scholarly training, it is commonly assumed, reflects an aptitude for and dedication to systematic study and impartial inquiry.
Berokowitz’ next paragraph oversimplifies the issues while revealing a trace of his own passion, but his words should at least prompt citizens to fact check claims made by candidates a little more thoroughly before casting their ballots:
From the avalanche of vehement and ignorant attacks on Bush v. Gore and the oft-made and oft-refuted allegation that the Bush administration lied about WMD in Iraq, to the remarkable lack of interest in Mr. Obama's career in Illinois politics and the determined indifference to his wrongness about the surge, wide swaths of the media and the academy have concentrated on stoking passions rather than appealing to reason.
In conclusion, Berkowitz points to a favorite conservative scapegoat: academia.
Consequently, though Bush hatred may weaken as the 43rd president minds his business back home in Texas, and while Obama euphoria may fade as the 44th president is compelled to immerse himself in the daunting ambiguities of power, our universities will continue to educate students to believe that hatred and euphoria reflect political wisdom. Urgent though the problem is, not even the efficient and responsible spending of a $1 trillion stimulus package would begin to address it.
I disagree with Berkowitz’ claims about universities. I received my own liberal arts education (BA in English) at a state university in Minnesota in the 1970s where I learned to think critically and in the process developed a healthy skepticism for the media and politicians of every stripe.
And just for the record, I'm a progressive from this great state in the tradition of our late U.S. Senator Paul Wellstone, former professor of political science at Carleton College, Northfield, Minn. Like Obama, Sen. Wellstone was once a community organizer; however, he did not feel this experience qualified him for the presidency.