Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Geese, ganders, and sauce

Victor Davis Hanson looks at how attitudes about dissent have changed. Why All the Wounded Fawns? - Victor Davis Hanson - The Corner on National Review Online

Like it or not, throughout much of the Bush administration, the public was conditioned to believe the following:

• Filibusters were a key traditional Senate protection designed to thwart the tyranny of the majority as embodied by the Bush-Cheney steamroller (Republicans, to be fair, often damned them as obstructionist).

• Recess appointments were the desperate acts of an executive without confidence in either popular or legislative support. Popular protests were grass-roots democracy at its finest.

• Occasional fringe groups that frequented anti-war, anti-Bush rallies, and called their president horrific epithets or threatened violence, were either irrelevant or forced into such understandable extremism by their own government's excesses.

• The once-abhorrent expression of hatred in popular culture for the president (cf. e.g., Knopf's Nicholson Baker novel Checkpoint, about killing Bush, or the Toronto Film Festival award winning a docudrama about assassinating George Bush, or Jonathan Chait's New Republic essay "The Case for Bush Hatred," or Michael Moore's abhorrent talk after 9/11 about blue/red state deaths and his empathy for terrorists in Iraq ("Minutemen" . . . "and they will win")) were not merely not abhorrent, but often creative expressions that captured the mood of popular dislike, and certainly no grounds for ostracism (cf. Moore's attendance at film openings and conventions with top Democratic politicians).

In other words, apparently few on the Left realized that in their dislike for Bush, and in their tolerance for those who hated Bush, they more or less changed attitudes toward acceptable and unacceptable public expressions of dissent. So now the public sees their sudden call for polite discourse as abject hypocrisy.
I think ultimately many "progressives," adherents to relativism, feel that the past furor over Bush in all its creepy manifestations was justified because of who Bush was; but that a similar methodology (or, in fact, far softer manifestations) of dissent toward Obama is unacceptable because of who Obama is (i.e. one can act rudely toward clearly bad people, but not rudely toward unquestionably "good" people). It is that simple.

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