Let me be perfectly frank: George W. Bush is the worst president in U.S. history. I never thought anyone could beat Nixon, but here we are.
Mind you, I am always one to give credit where it is due - even to those who differ with me politically. Unsurprisingly, I find Bush to be bereft of such credit - except in political acumen. I am certain that future historians will look at this period of history and shake their heads in amazement.
One of Bush's great strengths is that he knows how to win politically, regardless of the consequences. Since I have no respect at all for people who can achieve such things, it is not necessarily something I can respect. Bush has turned Negative Campaigning from an artform into an artistic movement. How else was he able to paint John Kerry, a decorated Vietnam war veteran, as a purse-carrying nancy boy? Selling freezers to eskimos comes to mind.
The thing I hate about negative campaigning is that it attempts to influence the masses through images and sound-bites that may not actually reflect the truth. The whole spectre of negative campaigning is so repugnant that it exposes some of the basic structural flaws of modern democratic politics.
The problem, now, is that the left-wing of American politics has discovered that it, too, must run their own negative campaign. I recently complained about Bob Herbert's article Blood runs red, not blue, and today I am faced with yet another piece of negativity - this time by Maureen Dowd, entitled My Private Idaho.
Dowd's article is not so much opinion as it is opinionated. She makes a list of all the problems with America and shows how Bush prefers to spend time on vacation rather than working. Moreover, she also makes some cheap shots, referring to Bush's "beloved feather pillow", his decision to try to lose some weight, and his US$3000 mountain bike that is "tenderly unloaded" to the tarmac by an Air Force One steward.
Like Dowd, I am sick of Bush and everything he has done. I just hate it when those who are supposed to represent the more progressive side of politics start using tactics that I find personally repugnant. I prefer politicians to stand up for what they believe in rather than commit acts of public hypocrisy. That's how I feel about Bush and his supposed Christian faith, which is meant to transform a person's behaviour to be more like Christ. I certainly can't imagine Jesus okaying a campaign of lies against his political opponents - so why should a Christian politician?
It all comes down to a political gambit. If progressive politicians in the US are willing to stand by their supposed ethics and not engage in the tactics of their opponents, then the chances are that they will lose in the short term but win in the long term. Such a behaviour should start with progressive commentators like Maureen Dowd and Bob Herbert.
From the Department of "Wha's happnin?"
© 2005 Neil McKenzie Cameron, http://one-salient-oversight.blogspot.com/
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 License.