Down Deep, They Love the Guy

For liberals, the livin' is easy while Bush is in office.

Max Boot

Los Angeles Times

July 29, 2004

The Democratic delegates in Boston are trying hard to be as sober, moderate and unexciting as a case study at the Kennedy School of Government. They don't want any unseemly emotions about the incumbent president to mar media coverage of their convocation. But if they were being honest, in their heart of hearts, they would have to admit … they love George W. Bush.

Oh, I know they have a funny way of showing it. But remember how back in grade school, when a boy had a crush on a girl he would pull her pigtails? That's the Democrats and Dubya. Sure, they may compare him to Adolf Hitler — at least they do when they're not in Boston — but, admit it, fellas, you really like the big lug in the Oval Office.

Politics is pretty boring unless you can be on the front lines, combating the forces of evil. It's fun to work yourself up into a righteous lather and imagine that you and your friends are the only thing preventing the dark night of fascism from descending. It's exciting to imagine that you are braving Uberfuhrer John Ashcroft's attempts to suppress dissent — especially when, unlike real dissidents in places like Burma and Iran, you don't face any actual danger.

It's fun, and profitable too. The Democrats may be right when they say the Bush recovery has delivered most of its benefits to the "rich." What they neglect to mention is how many liberal rabble-rousers are now in that category, thanks to the president.

That hoary old Stalinist organ, the Nation, has seen circulation soar more than 50% since Bush took office. It actually made a profit last year. Isn't that politically incorrect? Michael Moore is making out like Louis B. Mayer, raking in more than a hundred million smackeroos with a film (I hesitate to call it a documentary) that implies Bush invaded Afghanistan at the behest of Big Oil. It may not make any sense, but who can argue with the bottom line?

Half the books on the New York Times bestseller list seem to have titles like "Worse Than Ebola: The Bush Virus Infects America." Every two-bit leftist hack is picking up royalty checks that would make John Updike blush. Anti-Bush "527" organizations like MoveOn and America Coming Together are raising money as if they were Google.

Naturally, when opportunity is in the air, Hollywood picks up the scent. Every C-list has-been — yes, that means you, Linda Ronstadt; you too, Whoopi — is lining up to take a whack at the Bush piñata in hopes of landing a better gig than "Hollywood Squares." At this rate, Charo will soon be protesting the Patriot Act.

If liberals want to know how good they have it these days, they should talk to some conservatives. The right can look back nostalgically on the Clinton presidency as a golden age when anyone with a conspiracy theory involving mysterious doings in Arkansas could land a six-figure book deal and a radio show. It wasn't long ago that the American Spectator was having the kind of run now being enjoyed by the Nation.

And, then, wham!

The election of Bush was for conservative activists what the crash of 2000 was for high-tech investors. Crazy right-wing polemicists have been elbowed off the sales charts by crazy left-wing polemicists. Conservatives are left to grumble quietly about all the things that Bush has done to make them unhappy — from his unwillingness to invite Tom DeLay to grace prime time at the upcoming GOP convention to his willingness to spend your tax dollars as if he were running a dot-com circa 1999. But the right can't roar too loudly, because, after all, Bush is their guy. They have to protect him.

The left may find itself in the same uncomfortable position before long. If John Kerry wins, he'll inherit a deficit large enough to preclude the kind of vast new social programs demanded by his base. Congress probably will be so divided that he won't be able to legislate much of anything. The United States will still have troops in Iraq that Kerry will be hard-pressed to remove, even thou gh 95% of Democratic delegates say they oppose the war. And there remains a strong likelihood of a terrorist attack that will force Kerry into a more forceful response than joining hands and singing "We Are the World."

Bottom line: Governing is a drag. It involves compromises and trade-offs that, to zealots, always seem to be sellouts. Protest is much more fun. If the partygoers in Boston know what's good for them, they'll have the time of their lives between now and November, hootin' and hollerin' about Bush, and then quietly vote to give the ol' fascist four more years.

Max Boot is a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations.