They produced reports culling anecdotes from fringe videos and Web sites and claimed such stuff represented the conventional wisdom on the right. Bill Clinton bragged about how no American president had faced the sort of orchestrated "hate" he'd had to endure (this would have been uproariously funny to Richard Nixon).
Then-Clinton aide George Stephanopoulos told The Washington Post that Clinton's foes were "accusing him of murder. . That's unheard of." The Post reported that Stephanopoulos "senses a conspiracy of sorts - a campaign of 'manufactured hate.'" There was no shortage of sympathetic media outlets for this manufactured martyrdom.
Well, today the campaign of "manufactured hate" against George Bush in many respects dwarfs the campaign against Bill Clinton. As my colleague Byron York notes in the Sept. 1 issue of National Review, the most outrageous accusations against Bush are commonplace on the left and in liberal circles today, but we don't get articles in the mainstream press ridiculing "Bushophobia."
Web sites dedicated to the Bush family's "Nazi past" are all over the place. Articles comparing Bush to Adolph Hitler abound on the Internet and in countless elite newspapers and magazines in Europe and the Middle East.
Counterpunch.org, edited by respected leftist journalist Alexander Cockburn, has run more than one article detailing how Bush and Hitler use "the same playbook" and how "the Fuhrer would be proud that an American president is emulating him in so many ways." T-shirts and posters with Bush and Cheney in Gestapo gear and Hitler mustaches are staples at every leftwing rally today.
And it's not just on the fringe or overseas. Accusations and insinuations that Bush launched an entire war for base political reasons are commonplace on cable TV debates and by many leading Democrats, including Al Gore. This charge is vastly more outrageous than the one leveled at Bill Clinton's conveniently timed cruise missile strikes during impeachment, but no one seems to mind.
Indeed, start watching the Democratic presidential candidate forums on C-SPAN. If the contenders don't say Bush is a murderer, the Democratic activists often do - and the candidates almost never correct them.
The activist base of the Democratic Party today strikes me as demonstrably more paranoid and irrational about George Bush than even the most "obsessed" of my conservative brethren ever were. And to Bush's credit, he's not biting his lip and whining about it.