To get the conversation rolling at that D.C. dinner--and perhaps mischievously--I wondered aloud whether Bush hatred had not made rational discussion of politics in Washington all but impossible. One guest responded in a loud, seething, in-your-face voice, "What's irrational about hating George W. Bush?" His vehemence caused his fellow progressives to gather around and lean in, like kids on a playground who see a fight brewing.It's like Invasion of the Body Snatchers, only with worse catch-phrases. Later, "several of my progressive colleagues seized upon my remarks against giving oneself over to hatred. And they vigorously rejected the notion."
Reluctant to see the dinner fall apart before drinks had been served, I sought to ease the tension. I said, gently, that I rarely found hatred a rational force in politics, but, who knows, perhaps this was a special case. And then I tried to change the subject.
But my dinner companion wouldn't allow it. "No," he said, angrily. "You started it. You make the case that it's not rational to hate Bush." I looked around the table for help...
Finally, another guest, a man I had long admired, an incisive thinker and a political moderate, cleared his throat, and asked if he could interject. I welcomed his intervention, confident that he would ease the tension by lending his authority in support of the sole claim that I was defending, namely, that Bush hatred subverted sound thinking. He cleared his throat for a second time. Then, with all eyes on him, and measuring every word, he proclaimed, "I . . . hate . . . the . . . way . . . Bush . . . talks."
I am in sympathy with Berkowitz. Just the other day, I was lunching with several prominent and well-respected conservative figures from politics, the arts, the sciences, and the clergy. I playfully suggested that Bill Clinton hadn't been too bad of a President. A noted radio commentator hissed like a viper and his eyes rolled back in his head. A Bush speechwriter shook his fist in my face and told me that Clinton had raped his wife and killed his cat. I looked for assistance from a former Secretary of State known for his moderate politics and leadership in the First Gulf War. The others fixed their demonically glowing eyes on him (except for the radio commentator, who was still occupied with his fit). The Secretary stretched his face grotesquely till his eyes were mere slits and finally choked out: "Clinton... very... bad... man." Then he urinated copiously on himself as the other guests cheered and exchanged high-fives.
If you don't believe me, you're obviously suffering from some kind of Derangement Syndrome.