The loathing goes far beyond the politicians. Liberals as a body have gone quite around the twist. I count one all-star rock tour, three movies, four current theatrical productions and five best sellers (a full one-third of the New York Times list) variously devoted to ridiculing, denigrating, attacking and devaluing this president, this presidency and all who might, God knows why, support it.
How to explain? With apologies to Dr. Freud, I propose the Pressure Cooker Theory of Hydraulic Release.
The hostility, resentment, envy and disdain, all superheated in Florida, were not permitted their natural discharge. Came 9/11 and a lid was forced down. How can you seek revenge for a stolen election by a nitwit usurper when all of a sudden we are at war and the people, bless them, are rallying around the flag and hailing the commander in chief? With Bush riding high in the polls, with flags flying from pickup trucks (many of the flags, according to Howard Dean, Confederate), the president was untouchable.
The Democrats fell unnaturally silent. For two long, agonizing years, they had to stifle and suppress. It was the most serious case of repression since Freud's Anna O. went limp. The forced deference nearly killed them. And then, providentially, they were saved. The clouds parted and bad news rained down like manna: WMDs, Abu Ghraib, Richard Clarke, Paul O'Neill, Joe Wilson and, most important, continued fighting in Iraq.
Stripped of his halo, the president's ratings went down. The spell was broken. He was finally once again human and vulnerable. With immense relief, the critics let loose.
The result has been volcanic. The subject of one prominent new novel is whether George W. Bush should be assassinated. This is all quite unhinged. Good God. What if Bush is re-elected? If they lose to him again, Democrats will need more than just consolation. They'll need therapy.
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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