Dr. Sanity tackles that old bugaboo, Bush-Derangement-Syndrome (BDS), and tries to drive a stake into its vigorously beating heart. Her post is a good description of how the psychological mechanism of displacement functions in deflecting the hatred and fear of terrorism onto Bush.
Dr. Sanity doesn't pretend to explain the whole phenomenon of Bush-hatred, however, nor do I. I've felt for quite some time that there's something quite mysterious and "extra" about it, something very difficult to explain.
Perhaps it's merely that the whole is more than the sum of its parts. In addition to the process Dr. Sanity describes (which I think is key), there are other intangibles that feed the beast of BDS.
I'm not talking about mere disagreement with Bush. I'm referring to the sort of visceral demonization of the man that clearly seems out of touch with any reality, and which has gripped so many people I personally know and turned them into something unrecognizable and ferocious when they even mention his name--which they do with some regularity.
A while back I wrote a bit on the subject, which I'd like to repeat now as an addition to Dr. Sanity's thoughts. Although I'm talking about something relatively superficial here, I believe that for some who hate Bush it is at least a part of what drives them:
...many people hate Bush for stylistic reasons. The way he talks, the way he smirks, the frat-boy persona--he represents the kind of person they simply detested in high school and college (particularly if they were the intellectual or literary sort). They distrust and dislike him in a very visceral way.
I am old enough to remember the reaction among Democrats to Lyndon Johnson after Kennedy's assassination. They detested him--his good ol' boy accent, his picking up his dog by the ears, his showing off his surgical scars--man, they just hated him; he had no class. Kennedy was the absolute personification of smoothness and class, so witty and bright and charming, and that New England accent!
But, in the end, that's all surface stuff. Was Kennedy's actual record as President much better--or really all that much different--than Johnson's? Of course, we can't know whether Kennedy would have done any better with the Vietnam war than Johnson did, but from books such as The Best and the Brightest, I think the answer is at least "probably not." Perhaps, though, he may have ultimately done better because he would have had a more friendly press.
FDR and Kennedy were also children of great privilege--as great, or greater, than Bush. But they had that Eastern style, and great personal magnetism, that he lacks. And, of course, many people hated them--but not the press, and not academics.
Personal style is part of this. We relate to people in many ways, some of them quite subtle and even outside of our awareness: body language and facial expressions and clothing, as well as accents and speech patterns. The utter revulsion some feel towards Bush, both here and abroad, is partly a reaction to such signals that he gives off. In the end, these feelings are neither political, rational, nor amenable to argument--they simply are.