Republican Stockholm Syndrome

I have always rather liked George W. Bush. He has seemed to be a decent enough guy who really tried to be a good president. I wouldn’t say that he was one of the best presidents that we have ever had, but he wasn’t the worst either. He certainly didn’t deserve the hatred and abuse heaped upon him by the left and the media. That is why it is sad to see that George W. Bush has come down with Republican Stockholm Syndrome, that mysterious malady that causes Republicans to defend their tormentors in the media while attacking their fellow Republicans. Bush has remained silent throughout the administration of his successor, Barack Obama, but has offered some criticism of Donald Trump in recent interviews, as noted in this article from Fox news.

Former President George W. Bush offered what appeared to be a thinly veiled critique of his Republican successor on Monday, as he defended the importance of the media and immigration policies that are “welcoming.”

Bush, during an interview on NBC’s “Today” show to promote a new book of military portraits, addressed a range of President Trump controversies, specifically when asked about the executive order to temporarily restrict travel from seven predominantly Muslim countries. That order stalled in court, though Trump is expected to issue a new — but similar — order this week.

He doesn’t seem to wholly approve of Trump’s combative relationship with the media.

Until now, Bush largely has remained mum about the policies not only of Trump, but of former President Barack Obama. Bush’s comments Monday stopped short of a reprimand, but highlighted differences between his and Trump’s respective approaches to common challenges.

While Trump has repeatedly lambasted media organizations and termed numerous negative reports “fake news,” Bush applauded the same media that often derided him during his Oval Office tenure.

“I consider the media to be indispensable to democracy,” Bush said. “That we need an independent media to hold people like me to account. Power can be very addictive. And it can be corrosive.”

Bush is right in that we do need an independent media to hold people in power to account. Too bad we don’t have such an independent media. What we do have, as Bush ought to know, is a media determined to advance the careers of Democrats and destroy Republicans at any cost, including the use of fake news.

For eight years the media pummeled George W. Bush with fake news after fake news for the express purpose of destroying his presidency. Does he not remember, “Bush lied, the troops died”,  misreporting on Hurricane Katrina to imply that Bush wanted Blacks to die, and much, much else. For eight years the media refused to report on anything that might reflect poorly on their anointed Lightworker, and then praised him for having a scandal free administration. Well, if a tree that falls in a forest makes no noise if no one is there to listen, than a president is scandal free if no one bothers to report on any of his scandals.

Bush is probably the last person to comment on anyone’s handling of the press. He refused to fight back, even when the most egregious slanders were reported as facts. Maybe he was too much of a gentleman to get into such fights. Maybe he thought it was more dignified to remain silent. I think that his presidency would have been more successful and the country better off if Bush had fought back against the purveyors of fake news.

There is a lot not to like about Donald Trump. He is not a conservative. He is only nominally a Republican. Trump’s instincts seem to favor the sort of big government solutions conservatives deplore. Trump can be undisciplined and too inclined to shoot off his mouth when silence would be more appropriate. But Trump has one saving grace that makes me inclined to forgive his many faults. Trump fights. He does not stand silent when he is attacked as so many Republicans do. He fights back. Trump seems to understand that being nice to the mainstream media simply doesn’t work. Trying to be presidential and refusing to dignify media attacks with a response only results in a damaged and ineffective presidency. Trump may be crude and undignified, but he does seem to know how to handle the media. I wish other Republicans would learn from him. At the very least, I wish other Republicans would learn not to attack each other in the hope of a few nice words from the media that despises them.


I really am hoping that Mitt Romney wins the election this November, not only because it would nice to have a competent president for a change, but also because I am really looking forward to the Democrats’ reaction to an Obama defeat. I am sure that they will be mature about it, knowing that it is only one election and they have a chance to win next time.

Or maybe not.

It will be fun to read their excuses. When liberals lose elections, which they usually do unless they lie about their beliefs, it is never because their ideas or candidates are bad ones. This year, no doubt, racism will be cited if Obama is defeated. Never mind that millions of those same racist whites put him into office just four years ago. Or, it will be because the Democrats were outspent by the evil Koch brothers.

I am looking forward to reading articles about the unteachable ignorance of the red states, such as the one written by novelist Jane Smiley after Bush’s victory in 2004. She has discovered the reasons Democrats have fared badly in the red states. The people who live in them are simply too ignorant to know what is good for them.

I say forget introspection. It’s time to be honest about our antagonists. My predecessorsin this conversationare thoughtful men, and I honor their ideas, but let’s try something else. I grew up in Missouri and most of my family voted for Bush, * so I am going to be the one to say it: The election results reflect the decision of the right wing to cultivate and exploit ignorance in the citizenry. I suppose the good news is that 55 million Americans have evaded the ignorance-inducing machine. But 58 million have not. (Well, almost 58 million—my relatives are not ignorant, they are just greedy and full of classic Republican feelings of superiority.)

Ignorance and bloodlust have a long tradition in the United States, especially in the red states. There used to be a kind of hand-to-hand fight on the frontier called a “knock-down-drag-out,” where any kind of gouging, biting, or maiming was considered fair. The ancestors of today’s red-state voters used to stand around cheering and betting on these fights. When the forces of red and blue encountered one another head-on for the first time in Kansas Territory in 1856, the red forces from Missouri, who had been coveting Indian land across the Missouri River since 1820, entered Kansas and stole the territorial election. The red news media of the day made a practice of inflammatory lying—declaring that the blue folks had shot and killed red folks whom everyone knew were walking around. The worst civilian massacre in American history took place in Lawrence, Kan., in 1863—Quantrill’s raid. The red forces, known then as the slave-power, pulled between 150 and 200 unarmed men from their beds on a Sunday morning and slaughtered them, many in front of their wives and children. * The error that progressives have consistently committed over the years is to underestimate the vitality of ignorance in America. Listen to what the red state citizens say about themselves, the songs they write, and the sermons they flock to. They know who they are—they are full of original sin and they have a taste for violence. The blue state citizens make the Rousseauvian mistake of thinking humans are essentially good, and so they never realize when they are about to be slugged from behind.

She goes on and on like that and it is not worth the trouble of quoting any more. Go ahead and read the whole thing if you want to know what Progressives think of us in flyover country.

I wonder if Ms. Smiley changed her opinion when millions of those ignorant red staters helped to elect Barack Obama. I don’t imagine she has anything good to say about the Tea Party movement. I am sure that if Obama loses the coming election we will all be treated to even more vicious commentary about how ignorant, racist and unteachable we are for just not seeing that Obama is the most wonderful president ever.

It occurs to me that while this attitude might be very emotionally satisfying, it is not especially useful. Leaving aside the question whether it might be wise to insult large numbers of potential voters, if you simply assume that people are ignorant, you are not asking the important question why your party lost an election and how it can do better in future elections. After the Republicans lost control of Congress in 2006 and lost the presidential election in 2008, I do not recall any Conservative commentator blaming the voters for their unteachable ignorance. There might have been some talk along those lines, but I never heard any and I don’t think such attitudes were very common. Rather, much of the discussion within the Republican Party and the Conservative movement was how to present their ideas better, get better candidates, and limit the damage caused by one of the most inexperienced men ever to sit in the Oval Office. I wouldn’t want to make a generalized judgement that Conservatives are more mature and practical than Liberals, but that seems to be true in many cases.

Why Barack Obama May be Heading for Electoral Disaster in 2012

From the Telegraph. I really, really hope that this is true. Nile Gardiner seems to have good reason to believe that 2012 will be a close race with a strong possibility that Obama will not be re-elected, despite the opinion of many in Britain.

On a recent visit to London I was struck by how much faith many British politicians, journalists and political advisers have in Barack Obama being re-elected in 2012. In the aftermath of the hugely successful Special Forces operation that took out Osama Bin Laden and a modest spike in the polls for the president, the conventional wisdom among political elites in Britain is overwhelmingly that Obama will win another four years in the Oval Office. Add to this a widespread perception of continuing disarray in the Republican race, as well as a State Visit to London that had the chattering classes worshipping at the feet of the US president, and you can easily see why Obama’s prospects look a lot rosier from across the Atlantic.

I don’t know why they would think that. It seems to me fairly obvious that if the economy has not substantially improved over the next year, Obama will have a very tough race, even with the mainstream media in his corner. But even more than the state of the economy, the increasing anxiety many Americans (myself among them) are feeling about the future of this country will act against him. This is, I think, the whole reason the TEA party movement came into being. People are worried. They don’t like the direction things are moving in.

They were worried back in 2008 too and this is a part  of the reason a one term Senator with no executive experience was able to win the White House. But people know Obama now and too many don’t like what they see.

Gardiner finishes with some poll results that I think are worth quoting.

Unsurprisingly, the polls are again looking problematic for the president. The latest Rasmussen Presidential Tracking Poll shows just 25 percent of Americans strongly approving of Obama’s performance, with 36 percent strongly disapproving, for a Presidential Approval Index rating of minus 11 points. In a projected match up between Obama and a Republican opponent, the president now trails by two points according to Rasmussen – 43 to 45.  The RealClear Politics poll of polls shows just over a third of Americans (34.5 percent) agreeing that the country is heading in the right direction, with nearly three fifths (56.8 percent) believing it is heading down the wrong track. That negative figure rises to a staggering 66 percent of likely voters in a new Rasmussen survey, including 41 percent of Democrats.

This race is really the Republicans to lose. Knowing them, I’m sure they will find a way to do just that.