An Open Letter to Bush Haters

I just want to say that, however much I disagree with you, I sympathize with your frustration. Since, in the rather restricted circle in which you move and converse (mathematicians would call it a 'closed set'), everyone shares your hatred, it is hard for you to see us nodding approval at almost everything Bush does. You wonder how we can be so fatuously stupid; why can't we see how wrong, how evil Bush is!

The intensity and irrationality of your hatred—even to the point of a willing suspension of disbelief in the blatant mendacities of Michael Moore and insanities like blaming Bush for Al Qaeda, for Katrina, and for the fact that New Orleans is below sea level—is rather amazing. I think that in some professional circles, it might even be called paranoia. But I want you to know that I understand and even sympathize with your anguish. I've been there myself and it's a dreadful place.

It took me a long time to get there. At the height of the McCarthy era, I was at Caltech, among an extremely liberal student body and faculty. It so happened that I was in an unusual and lonely middle position; I was neutral about McCarthy. I regarded him as a cheap little politician, trying to make capital from the Communist threat, and I believed that he wouldn't last long enough to do much harm. I was relieved to be in New York City during the Army—McCarthy hearings and to share with my fellow New Yorkers their cynical amusement while watching the televised hearings in bars. But back at Caltech, I wondered how my colleagues could stand together in corners giggling nervously over the latest news, or how one of my fellow students, a normally intelligent and thoughtful man, could admonish me in a voice trembling with earnestness that McCarthy was 'a greater danger than Hitler.' It was my first hands—on experience with political paranoia and I couldn't understand it.

Then Kennedy came, and I detested what I considered his transparent phoniness. (I still twitch whenever I think of  'Ich bin ein Berliner.') But I experienced only a tiny dose of the disgust that dyed—in—the—wool conservatives felt. I remember thinking with some bitterness, when Kennedy hastily abandoned Diem, 'you're getting us into a war, buster.' And I remember feeling glumly, after the Cuban missile crisis, that Krushchev had as usual outfoxed us. But I never really hated Kennedy and I reacted to the assassination with the same shock and anger that everyone else felt.

Therefore, a few years later, I regarded the Nixon haters with the same bewildered awe that I had bestowed on my anti—McCarthy colleagues. Although I agreed with most of Nixon's policies, I could see how his mannerisms could irritate and even anger a liberal. But the intensity of hatred against Nixon and the hysteria that the Watergate affair provoked seemed disproportionate. At the worst, Nixon had abetted the cover—up of a pointless petty burglary—small potatoes by any standard of political chicanery. And yet my liberal friends were anticipating a crazed Nixon calling tanks into DC and attempting a coup d'etat. I felt that they had seen too many movies.

Then came the dark hour, when, in their infinite wisdom, the people of the United States searched among their best and wisest statesmen for a leader—and came up with a choice between Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter. That was the second printing and the only actual deployment of my VOTE 'NO' ON PRESIDENT bumper stickers. When Carter won, I thought, somewhat cynically, that we had elected a true man of the people. I felt that we had almost achieved Chesterton's fanciful ideal of democracy (in The Napoleon of Notting Hill) wherein the people pick their leader at random out of the phone book. But even during the Iran hostage debacle, I squirmed with embarrassment but kept calm. To paraphrase Angelo in Measure for Measure 'When other men went mad, I smiled and wondered how.'

Then, twelve years later, came William Jefferson Clinton, and I learned the meaning of hate.

Borges describes how, for fourteen years in Argentina, his first agonized thought, every morning on awakening, was 'Peron is in power.' That's how I came to feel. Several times a day, often unfortunately before meals, I would suddenly stop and think 'Billy Clinton is President of the United States.' The very sight of that self—conscious boyish smirk, the blatant transparency of his little lies and evasions, the sound of his voice, explaining charmingly how what was happening in Rwanda was not really genocide, did things for my blood pressure that my doctor is even now trying to repair. My systole mounted steadily during the impeachment: 'He can't...he can't...he's....Oh my God, HE'S GETTING AWAY WITH IT!' And the disgust and shame remained like a lump in my throat until Bush was elected.

Even now, like Dracula rising again from the grave, the man returns to haunt me.. Just yesterday, I opened CNN and read with ever growing disbelief:

'Former President Bill Clinton on Monday said the government "failed" the thousands of people who lived in coastal communities devastated by Hurricane Katrina, and said a federal investigation was warranted in due time.'  (italics mine)

This from the Hero of Monicagate, the Savior of Rwanda!

And what's worse, I may have to face it all over again. It's just possible, if the American people are as stupid as you intellectuals think they are, that they will elect the Dragon Lady to be President of the United States, with William Jefferson Clinton as First Gentleman. (Now there's an oxymoron for you!) Just the thought of the architect of Travelgate as President, being fawned over by European dignitaries, brings on a wave of nausea.

So, my dear Bush haters, in this your darkest hour, remember that there are those of us who, though disagreeing with you, remember our disgust with the Clintons' antics and, to use Hillary's own immortal words, 'feel your pain.' We will pray for you, try to moderate our speech when arguing with you, and refrain from flaunting our current success. And when the next Presidential election comes, please return the favor by bearing our feelings in mind and nominate anyone, anyone, even that poor pathetic little Gore person, but please don't try to foist the Dragon Lady on us.

Paul Shlichta is a research scientist who is currently writing a Manual of Methods. His scientific credentials may be viewed here.

I just want to say that, however much I disagree with you, I sympathize with your frustration. Since, in the rather restricted circle in which you move and converse (mathematicians would call it a 'closed set'), everyone shares your hatred, it is hard for you to see us nodding approval at almost everything Bush does. You wonder how we can be so fatuously stupid; why can't we see how wrong, how evil Bush is!

The intensity and irrationality of your hatred—even to the point of a willing suspension of disbelief in the blatant mendacities of Michael Moore and insanities like blaming Bush for Al Qaeda, for Katrina, and for the fact that New Orleans is below sea level—is rather amazing. I think that in some professional circles, it might even be called paranoia. But I want you to know that I understand and even sympathize with your anguish. I've been there myself and it's a dreadful place.

It took me a long time to get there. At the height of the McCarthy era, I was at Caltech, among an extremely liberal student body and faculty. It so happened that I was in an unusual and lonely middle position; I was neutral about McCarthy. I regarded him as a cheap little politician, trying to make capital from the Communist threat, and I believed that he wouldn't last long enough to do much harm. I was relieved to be in New York City during the Army—McCarthy hearings and to share with my fellow New Yorkers their cynical amusement while watching the televised hearings in bars. But back at Caltech, I wondered how my colleagues could stand together in corners giggling nervously over the latest news, or how one of my fellow students, a normally intelligent and thoughtful man, could admonish me in a voice trembling with earnestness that McCarthy was 'a greater danger than Hitler.' It was my first hands—on experience with political paranoia and I couldn't understand it.

Then Kennedy came, and I detested what I considered his transparent phoniness. (I still twitch whenever I think of  'Ich bin ein Berliner.') But I experienced only a tiny dose of the disgust that dyed—in—the—wool conservatives felt. I remember thinking with some bitterness, when Kennedy hastily abandoned Diem, 'you're getting us into a war, buster.' And I remember feeling glumly, after the Cuban missile crisis, that Krushchev had as usual outfoxed us. But I never really hated Kennedy and I reacted to the assassination with the same shock and anger that everyone else felt.

Therefore, a few years later, I regarded the Nixon haters with the same bewildered awe that I had bestowed on my anti—McCarthy colleagues. Although I agreed with most of Nixon's policies, I could see how his mannerisms could irritate and even anger a liberal. But the intensity of hatred against Nixon and the hysteria that the Watergate affair provoked seemed disproportionate. At the worst, Nixon had abetted the cover—up of a pointless petty burglary—small potatoes by any standard of political chicanery. And yet my liberal friends were anticipating a crazed Nixon calling tanks into DC and attempting a coup d'etat. I felt that they had seen too many movies.

Then came the dark hour, when, in their infinite wisdom, the people of the United States searched among their best and wisest statesmen for a leader—and came up with a choice between Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter. That was the second printing and the only actual deployment of my VOTE 'NO' ON PRESIDENT bumper stickers. When Carter won, I thought, somewhat cynically, that we had elected a true man of the people. I felt that we had almost achieved Chesterton's fanciful ideal of democracy (in The Napoleon of Notting Hill) wherein the people pick their leader at random out of the phone book. But even during the Iran hostage debacle, I squirmed with embarrassment but kept calm. To paraphrase Angelo in Measure for Measure 'When other men went mad, I smiled and wondered how.'

Then, twelve years later, came William Jefferson Clinton, and I learned the meaning of hate.

Borges describes how, for fourteen years in Argentina, his first agonized thought, every morning on awakening, was 'Peron is in power.' That's how I came to feel. Several times a day, often unfortunately before meals, I would suddenly stop and think 'Billy Clinton is President of the United States.' The very sight of that self—conscious boyish smirk, the blatant transparency of his little lies and evasions, the sound of his voice, explaining charmingly how what was happening in Rwanda was not really genocide, did things for my blood pressure that my doctor is even now trying to repair. My systole mounted steadily during the impeachment: 'He can't...he can't...he's....Oh my God, HE'S GETTING AWAY WITH IT!' And the disgust and shame remained like a lump in my throat until Bush was elected.

Even now, like Dracula rising again from the grave, the man returns to haunt me.. Just yesterday, I opened CNN and read with ever growing disbelief:

'Former President Bill Clinton on Monday said the government "failed" the thousands of people who lived in coastal communities devastated by Hurricane Katrina, and said a federal investigation was warranted in due time.'  (italics mine)

This from the Hero of Monicagate, the Savior of Rwanda!

And what's worse, I may have to face it all over again. It's just possible, if the American people are as stupid as you intellectuals think they are, that they will elect the Dragon Lady to be President of the United States, with William Jefferson Clinton as First Gentleman. (Now there's an oxymoron for you!) Just the thought of the architect of Travelgate as President, being fawned over by European dignitaries, brings on a wave of nausea.

So, my dear Bush haters, in this your darkest hour, remember that there are those of us who, though disagreeing with you, remember our disgust with the Clintons' antics and, to use Hillary's own immortal words, 'feel your pain.' We will pray for you, try to moderate our speech when arguing with you, and refrain from flaunting our current success. And when the next Presidential election comes, please return the favor by bearing our feelings in mind and nominate anyone, anyone, even that poor pathetic little Gore person, but please don't try to foist the Dragon Lady on us.

Paul Shlichta is a research scientist who is currently writing a Manual of Methods. His scientific credentials may be viewed here.