WASHINGTON -- The American elites of progressive disposition are unfortunately not very creative. They think in stereotypes. Moreover, they are not very learned. They have a very narrow range of stereotypes. Ever since our debonair new president swept into the White House, I have been wondering what Republican stereotype they might apply to him.
It would not be Herbert Hoover. Hoover never applied nicknames to anyone. He was an engineer and by all accounts misogelastic -- not a lot of laughs. Possibly if the economy worsens and remains feeble, the elites will disinter their Hoover stereotype and pin it on the 43rd president, but my reading of the economy tells me that this is unlikely.
Thus the elites might consider Coolidge, Silent Cal. Those last two words ought to nix him. GWB is not silent, and he is gregarious. Would the elites consider the Harding stereotype? Possibly, but as I pointed out way back in 1993, Harding, in fact the Harding family, is actually the perfect paradigm for the Clintons -- not the stereotype, the paradigm, right down to the grumpy wife and the cuties in the White House closet, delighting amongst the galoshes.
Eisenhower has slowly risen to an estate of mild reverence in the progressive elites' collective conscience. Anyway, there has always been a dignity to the former Supreme Commander of Allied Forces in Europe and former Supreme Commander of NATO forces and president that made him a laughable stereotype only to the historical ignoramus. Do not expect some transmogrification of Ike to be applied to the new president.
Nixon cannot be applied either. To the progressive elites' funereal minds the perpetrator of Watergate has taken on a grisly aura. To them he is the American Hitler, without the fondness for children and household pets. Comparing the American Hitler to any Bush would even for the progressives be implausible.
Admittedly progressives are somewhat split on President Bush, which is unusual. Usually they are unanimous on everything, which explains their cock-sureness and tedium.
With this new president some have split off thinking him curiously keen-witted, at least politically. And some think he is "a nice guy." That must trouble them. Republicans are not supposed to be "nice guys." Yet think back. There was an earlier stereotypical Republican whom they could deplore while admitting that he was a "nice guy," Ronald Reagan.
Ronald Reagan is the stereotype that the progressives will pin on the new Republican president. In the eyes of progressives, Reagan was amiable, but hopelessly ignorant, inarticulate (all his utterances were scripted, usually by Peggy Noonan), dim, philistine, and insensitive to the environment, the poor, the cause of peace and progress in general. To the progressives this fits Bush to a T. That Reagan was also one of the two most successful presidents in this century the progressives have managed to forget.
Yes, if you read the progressive columnists in the liberal newspapers and listen to the pundits on the evening news, suddenly it seems like 1983 all over again. The amiable dunce in the White House is undertaking a terrifying tax cut. He is letting loose all the hostile forces against Mother Nature and the poor. He is in alliance with Big Oil, Big Tobacco, the entire Fortune 500. He is a friend of the military. He has heightened tensions with the Russians and the Chinese. All sophisticated Europeans are appalled by his bumpkin moves.
The comic possibilities alive to the progressives are abundant, another dumb, tasteless, Republican, in this case one that somehow beat the hand-picked successor to that stupendously successful president Bill Clinton. There is even going to be a sitcom based on the Bush administration appearing on Comedy Central. It will rip him up for his stupidity and coarseness.
In its first installment, the president is the classic dope. His wife is the long-suffering cool-and-collected mommy to the family. The head of an important lobbying group, the anti-abortion lobby, is a blind fetus-like character who had escaped being aborted. Yes, you read that correctly. The would-be Charlie Chaplains at Comedy Central have as a joke figure a fetus who had survived an abortion.
Desperate -- the elites are very desperate. Oblivious -- and they are oblivious too. They are a little like the aged Roosevelt-haters, circa the 1950s, who would erupt every time FDR was mentioned. The problem with these reactionaries is that they live longer than past generations, and get angrier and ever more out of touch.
R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr. is editor in chief of The American Spectator. To find out more about R. Emmett Tyrell Jr., and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate web page at www.creators.com.
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