Thursday, March 17, 2005

That fanatical contingent

Jonathan Chait, filling in for Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo, raised many eyebrows when he wrote earlier this week:
I actually agree with Marshall and the DLC on the suicidal purity of the Democratic party's left wing, embodied by the Howard Dean movement and its fanatical internet contingent, even if I disagree with his support for Lieberman in particular.

Chait appears to be now joining the chorus of "moderates" on the left accusing the activist left of fomenting irrational hatred of Bush and the right, especially expressed by the "fanatical internet contingent" and its "suicidal purity."

Funny thing about that. It was only a few short months ago that the leading example of "irrational Bush hatred" offered up by wags on the right was this piece by Jonathan Chait:
[Bush] reminds me of a certain type I knew in high school--the kid who was given a fancy sports car for his sixteenth birthday and believed that he had somehow earned it. I hate the way he walks--shoulders flexed, elbows splayed out from his sides like a teenage boy feigning machismo. I hate the way he talks--blustery self-assurance masked by a pseudo-populist twang. I even hate the things that everybody seems to like about him. I hate his lame nickname-bestowing-- a way to establish one's social superiority beneath a veneer of chumminess (does anybody give their boss a nickname without his consent?). And, while most people who meet Bush claim to like him, I suspect that, if I got to know him personally, I would hate him even more.

As Bob Somerby pointed out at the time:
Much of the column was a critique of Bush policy. But Chait framed the piece as a tongue-in-cheek confession of his visceral "hatred" for Bush. And it isn’t just Bush’s policies, Chait says. "I hate the way he walks," the scribe writes -- "shoulders flexed, elbows splayed out from his sides like a teenage boy feigning machismo." Chait also hates the fact that Bush gives nicknames, and says, "I suspect that, if I got to know him personally, I would hate him even more."

Does Chait really "hate" the way Bush holds his arms? If so, he ought to be sent to a home. But, although Chait’s piece was somewhat tongue-in-cheek, the result was one thousand percent predictable. In yesterday's New York Times, David Brooks discarded Chait's serious ruminations -- and quoted the list of his trivial complaints ... . Gravely faking for his national audience, Brooks then drew the scripted conclusion: Can't you see how crazy these liberals are? Can't you see that irrational "hatred" is driving these complaints about Bush?

Guys like Jonathan Chait did their best to thoughtlessly hand ammunition to right-wing propagandists about irrational Bush hatred from the left.

So how is it that they're the ones pointing fingers now?

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