The psychopathology of Bush hatred

The Bush hatred we are seeing in the media today belongs in the long catalogue of human psychopathology -- not rational behavior. The latest version is the shoe-throwing incident in Iraq. Iraq happens to be a hot war zone, in which tens of thousands of innocent people have been killed by hidden bombs. Bush's protective detail had no way of knowing whether an assassinaton attempt was under way, in just the way Saddam tried to assassinate George H.W. Bush, Sr. At the end of his two terms of office, the President flew to Iraq, into harm's way, knowing the dangers, to hold an open press conference.

But our media harbor such bitter hatred for him that they turned a potential bomb-throwing incident --- by one of their own --- into a joke, just another reason to sneer at the President. If anybody threw a cream pie at Obama, screaming headlines would be launched for days afterward. Nothing but sneers followed the potential attack on George W. Bush, which he fended off with his usual grace and humor. I have never known a US president to be treated as disgracefully as this one. The political case against him is based almost entirely on media falsehoods, slanders, and greed for power. Not much rationality there.

Our public melodrama is therefore being driven, not by facts and reason, but by the most primitive emotions that prey on human minds. Human  brains haven't changed much in the last thirty thousand years. Homo sapiens is a lot more prosperous species than ever, but prosperity just allows those ancient demons to come out more freely. If we were huddled by a small fire in a cave, hungry and miserable, we could not indulge our fantasies as much as the pop media now allow themselves to do. Prosperity permits our primitive urges to flourish on the public stage.

President George W. Bush is being crucified in the public square in spite of his plain decency and goodness, and in spite of his remarkable success in winning two difficult wars to protect this nation from harm. All wars are hard; all wars involve mistakes and self-correction. All wars, if they are to be won, come at a cost.

While it is natural enough for conservatives to be upset by the blatant unfairness of the propaganda media  --- indeed, by their visible madness --- if we just take a little mental distance, we can easily see an ancient anthropological drama: The crucifixion of the reigning king, along with the messianic glorification of a new one, who will surely rescue us from our media-driven despair. (Of course the new king will also grow weaker in time, in spite of his charismatic magic  ...) This is the stuff of Shakespeare and Sophocles. George W. Bush's "head is bloody but unbowed," to quote the poem Invictus, ("undefeated') the Victorian answer to political witchhunts.

The novelist Mary Renault described the whole ordeal in her classic story, The King Must Die. Renault based her tale on legends of royal sacrifice from the ancient Mediterranean world --- in Greece, Asia Minor, Crete, Italy, and elsewhere. Read it if you want to understand Bush hatred and Obama worship. Her source was Sir James Fraser's remarkable book, The Golden Bough. While anthropologists have backed off Fraser's claim that king sacrifice is universal, the respected scholar James D. Brown argues that the evidence favors "Oedipal rebellion" as a universal among native peoples studied over more than a century. We no longer hang our kings physically, but the Left and the media act just like the lynch mobs of old. Listen to their voices and you'll hear the ancient roar of the mob.

We can watch the tragicomedy of our psychopolitics unfold and still keep some perspective. Think of it as a stage play like King Lear, and pray that reason prevails in the end. The Leftist media are actors playing the ancient role of the politically envious, who exist in every tribal culture where the head of the clan sleeps uneasily, fearful of plots and assassination attempts. All politics is not just local, as the Washington saying goes, but deep down it is tribal.

What is hopeful today is what was hopeful at the American founding: the use of constitutional means to channel our loves and hates into a fairly reasonable course of common action. The majority of Americans are pretty sane and rational; they don't trust the political class, and they are deserting the Big Media in the tens of millions even now. The American Founders knew all about vulgar mobs, and lived to see them in the French Revolution of 1789, with Napoleon rising on top of the revolutionary chaos to explode into a mass war of conquest in Europe. The Founders despised all that. They designed the Constitution to steer a steady course in spite of mobs and demagogues. It has worked magnificently for two centuries, and with luck and courage, it will hold.

Alexander Hamilton famously said, "The people? The people is a great beast!" But that was not accurate: We are all "the people," as the Declaration of Independence tells us. "The people" are the source of all good and bad things. The people -- properly balanced by a constitutional apparatus -- have brought prosperity that was unimaginable two hundred years ago. The people harbor wisdom and common sense in a way that snobbish elites soon forget.  Conservatism is skeptical about human nature, but not cynical or  despairing. Nor do we look to  messianic leaders like Barack Obama to solve our problems. We look to muddle through, to give individuals the space to grow and succeed, to stand against the mobs, to fail at times, and then to fight again.

Whenever conservatives see yet another mob movement from the Left, we feel it is our obligation to stand in opposition. It is not unpatriotic to criticize the messiah of the moment -- though the Left will say so. It is our duty. We can do so with reason, with humor, and with clear thinking about the bad ideas the Left seems to carry around like a scratchy case of the fleas.

President Bush is not a theoretical politician. He is a practical man. He has constantly made the best decisions by his lights, sometimes against his own ideals, because reality sometimes makes things like war necessary; sometimes it makes massive bailouts necessary. The conservative question is always, "What is the realistic alternative?"

The end product of conservative politics is a mix of realism and idealism. Bush has liberated some fifty million Muslims, including one Arab journalist who just hurled his trendy hush puppies at him in an ancient gesture of contempt. That man is alive today because of George W. Bush -- Saddam would have fed him screaming into a plastic shredder. Compared to Obama and the corruptocrats, Bush will soon look like an American hero. Just watch it happen.