It’s an article by Jonathan Chait at the New Republic; it’s in free access now. The “case for hatred” Chait is making is in fact a rational argument for disliking George Bush Jr. (Actually, in my world all passions are “within reason” and all behavior is rational by definition, but in this post, I’m using “rational” in a common, not a strictly economic sense). A rational basis for the antipathy that all educated, self-reliant Americans (not foamy-lipped ultraliberals) should feel, according to Chait.
I admit that Chait’s case is well presented and convincing (there’s an online dispute between him and Ramesh Ponnuru of the National Review going on at TNR’s site, but not in open access yet), but I’m not sure it achieves anything. For any traditionally-minded, reasonably educated individual, someone who may accept postmodernism as a literary method but values some discourses way above others, — a simple visual comparison would be enough to form a negative impression of Bush. Two men, two faces on the screen: one looks like a Roman patrician; the other’s appearance exemplifies the perils of inbreeding in patrician families. As long as appearance matter, the choice is obvious.
But, although appearances do matter, merely admitting their improtance injects esthetical considerations into the political, inevitably mixing the esthetical with the ethical — a mix I find rather dangerous. Therefore, I prefer not to focus on Bush’s looks, although I’m still irked by the bad taste revealed by the millions of Americans who voted for Bush. What matters is that he is the leader of a great, perhaps the greatest, nation — a democratically elected leader, whatever you may say, for he came to presidency through a constitutional procedure, and, as someone said, democracy is procedure. Let’s not forget two simple maxims: a) all’s well that ends well; b) victors don’t get judged. I don’t believe modern leaders act on noble impulses. I don’t think Bush made a good case for war. But it all seems to be working out now. After all, Reagan didn’t have a good legal case for the Grenada invasion, either, nor did he care about the islanders’ fortune; but he saved the Grenadians from a crazy dictatorship.