The Bush factor looms large

The campaign to elect the 44th President of the United States has been dominated by the administration of the 43rd, George W. Bush, as Sen. Barack Obama speaks as if he’s running against him and Sen. John McCain spares no effort to distinguish himself from Bush. This is not surprising, considering that most public opinion polls report President Bush’s popularity at about 35 percent (although more than double Congress’s rating of 16 percent). Some of Bush’s unpopularity is understandable, given the great length of our Iraq commitment and the low state of the economy.

Bush adopted the right counterinsurgency strategy too late for many people and let Democrats get away with Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac home mortgage shenanigans for so long that he is actually getting stuck with the blame.

But as important as these events are, they pale into insignificance before the Democrat/media demonization of the Bush administration since 2001. Bush attempted to bring to his office the bipartisan approach that worked so well when he was governor of Texas, but his opposition would have none of it.

The left wingers were never content with merely criticizing the President. The more extreme of them made him out to be Hitler and the only slightly less extreme drew parallels between our treatment of prisoners of war and the barbarities of Hitler, Stalin and Pol Pot. This poisoning of the political dialogue has made fair-minded appraisal practically impossible.

The widespread public antipathy to Bush reminds me of a relationship gone sour. Unhappiness with one person sometimes is followed by a new relationship "on the rebound" with someone else, who looks good for no other reasons than he or she is not the rejected one. Such an unhappy person sees no good in the former loved one and nothing bad in the new object of affection.

It literally makes no sense for people who approved of Bush for his strong defense of the country and his low-taxing policy contribution to a growing economy to replace him with a candidate who fails to grasp the fundamentals of national security and will make our economic problems even worse with his "soak the rich" and "share the wealth" policies.

Add to this irrational phenomenon the national media’s constant drumbeat for Obama and, not surprisingly, we have the spectacle of a virtually unknown, untried and untested junior senator with questionable associates and rhetorical ambiguity vaulting toward victory in his quest for the Presidency.

Perhaps as important as events and defamation of–and overreaction to–the Bush administration is the faux sophistication that characterizes what writer David Brooks once described as the "Bobo" phenomenon. "Bobo" is a combination of Bohemian and bourgeois, that is, of a college-influenced trendiness that is charmed by novelty and unconventionality and animated by an attachment to moneymaking arts.

These urban professionals believe they are "beyond partisanship" but actually are more deeply immersed in it than the alleged rural yokels who they see as clinging to God and guns and feeling hostile to foreigners. Even age and experience do not seem to be enough to shake off the debilitating effects of this adolescent angst that never moves beyond personal outrage and snobbery.

These hipsters are gaga over Obama because he is, as the smooth-talking, "historic" candidate for President, just too cool to pass up, never mind that his ill-conceived foreign and defense policies threaten their safety as much as anyone else's, not to mention that his confiscatory tax and spend policies will squelch their enterprises no less than those of less hip entrepreneurs.

What our country needs are more people who appreciate the sacrifices of our best citizens and less who equate patriotism with the Michael Moore attitude that seems to be, "We had to destroy the country in order to save it." One can only hope that our truly "best and brightest" command a majority in this election.