WASHINGTON -- Upon losing a game at the 1925 Baden-Baden tournament, Aaron Nimzowitsch, the great chess theoretician and a superb player, knocked the pieces off the board, jumped on the table and screamed, ``How can I lose to this idiot?''
Nimzowitsch may have lived decades ago in Denmark, but had the soul of a modern American Democrat. After all, Democrats have been saying much the same -- with similar body language -- ever since the erudite Adlai Stevenson lost to the syntactically challenged Eisenhower in 1952. They said it again when they lost to that supposed simpleton Reagan. Twice, would you believe. With George W. Bush, they are at it again, and equally apoplectic.
Actually, this time around, even more apoplectic. The Democrats' current disdain for George Bush reminds me of another chess master, Efim Bogoljubov, who once said, ``When I am White, I win because I am White'' -- White moves first and therefore has a distinct advantage -- ``when I am Black, I win because I am Bogoljubov.'' John Kerry is a man of similar vanity -- intellectual and moral -- and that spirit thoroughly permeates the Democratic Party.
Democrats feel a mixture of horror and contempt for the huddled masses -- so bovine, so benighted, so besotted with talk radio -- who made a king of an empty-headed movie star (Reagan, long before Arnold) and inexplicably want the Republicans' current nitwit leader to have a second term.
Historians will have a field day trying to fathom the depths of detestation that the Democrats are carrying into this campaign. Vanity is only part of it. What else is at play? First, and most obviously, revenge. Democrats have convinced themselves that Bush stole the last election. They cannot bear suffering not just a bad presidency but an illegitimate one.
Moreover, against all expectations, it turned out to be a consequential presidency too. Bush was not the mild-mannered Gerald Ford-like Republican he was expected to be -- transitional and minor. He turned out to be quite the revolutionary, most especially in his radical reordering of American foreign policy. A usurper is merely offensive; a consequential usurper is intolerable.
But that is still not enough to account for the level of venom today. It is not often that a losing presidential candidate (Al Gore) compares the man who defeated him to both Hitler and Stalin. It is not often that a senior party leader (Edward Kennedy) accuses a sitting president of starting a war (``cooked up in Texas'') in order to gain political advantage for his re-election.
Charles Krauthammer is a 1987 Pulitzer Prize winner, 1984 National Magazine Award winner, and a columnist for The Washington Post since 1985.
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