First but not foremost, Bush’s detractors despise him viscerally, as a man. Where working-class populists see him as a smug, effeminate frat boy who wouldn’t recognize a hard day’s work if it kicked him in his self-satisfied ass, intellectuals see a simian-faced idiot unqualified to mow his own lawn, much less lead the free world. Another group, which includes me, is more patronizing than spiteful. I feel sorry for the dude; he looks so pathetic, so out of his depth, out there under the klieg lights, squinting, searching for nouns and verbs, looking like he’s been snatched from his bed and beamed in, and is still half asleep, not sure where he is. Each speech looks as if Bush had been beamed from his bed fast asleep. And he’s willfully ignorant. On Fox News, Bush admits that he doesn’t even read the newspaper: “I glance at the headlines just to kind of [sic] a flavor for what’s moving. I rarely read the stories, and get briefed by people who are probably read [sic] the news themselves.” All these takes on Bush boil down to the same thing: The guy who holds the launch codes isn’t smart enough to know that’s he’s stupid. And that’s scary.
Bush bashers hate Bush for his personal hypocrisy–the draft-dodger who went AWOL during Vietnam yet sent other young men to die in Afghanistan and Iraq, the philandering cocaine addict who dares to call gays immoral–as well as for his attacks on peace and prosperity. But even that doesn’t explain why we hate him so much.
Bush is guilty of a single irredeemable act so heinous and anti-American that Nixon’s corruption and Reagan’s intellectual inferiority pale by comparison. No matter what he does, Democrats and Republicans who love their country more than their party will never forgive him for it.
Bush stole the presidency.
The United States enjoyed two centuries of uninterrupted democracy before George W. Bush came along. The Brits burned the White House, civil war slaughtered millions and depressions brought economic chaos, yet presidential elections always took place on schedule and the winners always took office. Bush ended all that, suing to stop a ballot count that subsequent newspaper recounts proved he had lost. He had his GOP-run Supreme Court, a federal institution, rule extrajurisdictionally on the disputed election, a matter that under our system of laws falls to the states. Bush’s recount guru, James Baker, went on national TV to threaten to use force to install him as president if Gore didn’t step aside: “If we keep being put in the position of having to respond to recount after recount after recount of the same ballots, then we just can’t sit on our hands, and we will be forced to do what might be in our best personal interest–but not–it would not be in the best interest of our wonderful country.”