As we prepare to say goodbye to our 43rd President, an important question needs to be asked: will those suffering from Bush Derangement Syndrome be cured on Inauguration Day?
As most informed people are aware, BDS was first identified by conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer. In his December 5, 2003, Washington Post article, Krauthammer described the malady as "the acute onset of paranoia in otherwise normal people in reaction to the policies, the presidency - nay - the very existence of George W. Bush."
Although Krauthammer addressed others in the grips of this pernicious affliction that "generally struck people with previously compromised intellectual immune systems" such as Barbra Streisand, his real concern was for Democrat presidential candidate Howard Dean:
I cannot testify to Howard Dean's sanity before this campaign, but five terms as governor by a man with no visible tics and no history of involuntary confinement is pretty good evidence of a normal mental status. When he avers, however, that "the most interesting" theory as to why the president is "suppressing" the Sept. 11 report is that Bush knew about Sept. 11 in advance, it's time to check on thorazine supplies. When Rep. Cynthia McKinney (D-Ga.) first broached this idea before the 2002 primary election, it was considered so nutty it helped make her former representative McKinney. Today the Democratic presidential front-runner professes agnosticism as to whether the president of the United States was tipped off about 9/11 by the Saudis, and it goes unnoticed. The virus is spreading.
Of course, it's not unusual for politicians to view those on the opposite side of the aisle as demons, or, at the very least, to express such. It's therefore much more important to determine when the media caught this illness. Krauthammer gave us some clues:
It is true that BDS has struck some pretty smart guys -- Bill Moyers ranting about a "right-wing wrecking crew" engaged in "a deliberate, intentional destruction of the United States way of governing" and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, whose recent book attacks the president so virulently that Krugman's British publisher saw fit to adorn the cover with images of Vice President Cheney in a Hitler-like mustache and Bush stitched up like Frankenstein. Nonetheless, some observers took that to be satire; others wrote off Moyers and Krugman as simple aberrations, the victims of too many years of neurologically hazardous punditry.
As Moyers' appearance at "Take Back America" was on June 4, 2003, and the Krugman book Krauthammer was likely referring to - "The Great Unraveling: Losing Our Way in the New Century" - was published that September, it seems safe to conclude BDS began infiltrating the liberal media that summer.
Prior to that point, at least according to today's conventional wisdom -- whatever that means! -- the press were supposedly cheerleaders for the war. Once things in Iraq didn't go as smoothly as planned, a cover-story was floated: journalists -- whatever that means! -- didn't do a good enough job of ferreting out the facts concerning pre-invasion intelligence, and therefore neglected to present a more anti-war approach as would have typically been their wont.
While this disingenuous mea culpa worked marvelously on those in the grips of BDS, it was an historical revisionism key to spreading the malady.
As media were not privy to pre-war intelligence beyond what the Administration was presenting, they had to rely on those that were. Given the overwhelming bipartisan support for the war resolution, there weren't a lot of Congress men and women voicing strong opposition to the invasion prior to 2004.
What BDS victims and those spreading the affliction have all conveniently forgotten is that in the House, the October 2002 vote was 296-133, with 81 Democrats saying "Aye." These included such high-profile Representatives as Dick Gephardt and Jane Harman.
On the Senate side, the vote was 77-23 with 29 Democrats saying "Aye." These included media darlings like Evan Bayh, Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton, Tom Daschle, Christopher Dodd, Diane Feinstein, Tom Harkin, Ernest Hollings, John Kerry, Joe Lieberman, and Chuck Schumer.
As many of these folks were historically quite dovish, and highly outspoken about the threat Iraq posed, what basis would media have had to present a stronger case against the invasion? Who were they to question the incursion when politicians they supported were all for it? How could the New York Times oppose a war backed by both New York Democrat Senators it had previously endorsed?
As a result, the whole concept that the press weren't skeptical enough about pre-war intelligence is an historical revisionism designed to misrepresent what actually was a bipartisan decision, and is at the very heart of Bush Derangement Syndrome.
The key to this malady was the ability to blame everything on George W. Bush. It was therefore imperative to unburden Democrats of any responsibility for the war, for if you can't exclusively blame Bush for going into Iraq, how do you finger him for hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, wildfires, and anything else bad that happens on the planet?
Obviously, you can't, which is why Howard Dean was so important to the birth and spreading of BDS.
For those that have forgotten, Dean gave a speech at the California State Democratic Convention on March 15, 2003, less than a week before the invasion, wherein he asked attendees, "What I want to know is what in the world so many Democrats are doing supporting the President's unilateral intervention in Iraq?"
45 days later, when the mission wasn't accomplished as suggested by the now infamous banner placed atop the USS Abraham Lincoln, Dean suddenly started getting a huge amount of press attention.
As his Bush-bashing rants quickly made him frontrunner for the Democrat presidential nomination, as well as assisted him in out-fundraising his opponents, media began to recognize there was money to be made by tossing aside reason and attacking Bush whenever possible. A presidential election was around the corner, and the Republican incumbent who appeared invulnerable as he landed his plane on a homeward-bound aircraft carrier was starting to show some cracks.
With this in mind, when Krauthammer addressed "What Makes The Bush Haters So Mad" in September, and followed it up with a catchy name less than three months later, his timing was spot-on.
Once the presidential campaign kicked into high gear in 2004, the malady began taking more and more victims, not the least of which were CBS's Dan Rather and Mary Mapes who ended up being fired for using forged Texas Air National Guard documents in order to discredit Bush during a September 8 "60 Minutes" segment.
Months after Bush was re-elected to the dismay of liberal press members who had jumped on John Kerry's bandwagon after Dean's highly-publicized meltdown in Iowa - readers are reminded of Katie Couric practically crying on NBC's "Today" show the morning after Election Day -- media outlets suggested he wasn't quick enough to offer financial support to nations impacted by the December 26 tsunamis.
Of course, we hadn't seen anything yet, for by 2005, virtually every press outlet in the country was afflicted as they bound together to assist Democrats in stopping Social Security reform, and finished the year by blaming the President for Hurricane Katrina.
Now, more than three years later, having mercilessly pounded on this man since the summer of 2003, media members are jubilant that Bush has the lowest approval rating of any outgoing president since the question was first asked 70 years ago.
Does that suggest the badgering is done, and the press will move on to another object of disaffection?
Don't count on it according to MSNBC's Rachel Maddow:
This is the start of the part where we don't have President Bush to kick around anymore. That said, given his approval ratings and the state of the world his tenure has left us with there can be no promise that we won't be compelled to try to keep on with the kicking around.
Sadly, I agree with her, as there is great precedent for liberal media members continuing to kick around Republican presidents well after they're out of office. Consider that Herbert Hoover left the White House in 1933, and he still gets eviscerated 75 years later.
Much like today's BDS, media hatred of Hoover conveniently ignores facts. Although the economy was in a recession in 1930, the Depression really didn't begin until 1931. This means that for all intents and purposes, Hoover only presided over two years of the Depression.
By contrast, as the GDP didn't surpass its 1929 output until 1941, and unemployment after peaking during Franklin D. Roosevelt's first year in office didn't return to more normal levels until 1942, Roosevelt presided over almost ten years of the Depression.
Regardless, to this day, Hoover gets all the blame for this horrible period in economic history, and Roosevelt gets all the credit for ending it even though the economy only improved once America entered World War II and went right back into a serious recession once the war ended.
With this in mind, it seems that no matter what happens to our economy in the next four years, Bush Derangement Syndrome will live on.
If we do begin to recover from our current condition, no matter what Obama does or how long it takes, he'll get the credit and media will bash Bush. If conditions don't demonstrably improve, no matter what Obama does or how long he's in office, media will bash Bush.
Given the Hoover precedent, it seems likely BDS will exist for decades to come.
Gives you a lot to look forward to, doesn't it?