How about those anti-Clinton bumper stickers?
A commenter named Nick writes, in response to this post of mine:
I remember seeing a lot of anti-Clinton bumper stickers when he was elected. These two come to mind immediately...
"Inhale to the Chief"
"Don't Blame Me. I Voted for Bush"
I'm not sure whether the Clinton ones ever became quite as popular... or whether they were as ferocious as some of the current Bush ones, but lets not forget about them. Both sides have played this game.
So, have both sides played this game? To a certain extent.
But as Nick himself suggests, the enmity towards Bush seems both more widespread and more vicious than that towards Clinton. For this reason I think there is a qualitative difference; I don't think that Bush-hatred is merely a mirror image of Clinton-hatred, although Clinton-hatred certainly existed.
Look at the two bumper stickers Nick mentions. They are critical of Clinton, it's true, and the first one is hostile (the second one reminds me of the "Don't Blame Me, I'm from Massachusetts" post-Watergate sticker that I mentioned in my earlier bumper-sticker post, and was no doubt modeled after it).
But neither of these stickers even begins to approach the depth and scope of the hostility displayed (and even gloried in) by the Bush ones: calling Bush an idiot, calling his Presidency a "regime," comparing him to Hitler. What's more--and I don't believe it's just because I live in a blue state now--the number of cars sporting these extremely negative anti-Bush stickers was far greater than the number displaying the anti-Clinton ones, which as I recall were few and far between (and I lived in a purple state back then, so I would have expected to have seen a fair number of them, if so many had actually existed).
There is no doubt that there was a fringe element almost psychotic in its hatred of Clinton, accusing him, for example, of murdering Vincent Foster. These people I condemn in the harshest of terms. But, at least to my knowledge, this element represented a far smaller percentage of the Republican party compared to those who suffer from intense hatred of Bush, which is practically a mainstream position among liberal Democrats.
During the 2004 election, the ratio of Bush-hating to Kerry-loving bumper stickers seemed to be about 3 to 1. I believe that the degree of negativity in that 2004 campaign was an unprecedented event in modern politics. Let's hope it's not a trend.