Monday, March 21, 2005

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.


At 2:10 PM, March 26, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Like you, I'm a neo-necon, though one who held his nose and voted for Kerry this time. I am very glad to see the wave of freedom rippling through the Middle East since Iraq's elections, and only want to see it continue.

I think the Bush hatred is absolutely ridiculous, and one reason the Democrats lost -- they had to be more FOR Kerry than against Bush, and they simply weren't.

But I differ from you in this one respect -- I think Clinton hatred was central, not peripheral, to the Republicans in the 1990s.

For all the rabid criticism of Bush, and the overwrought comparisons to Hitler, etc. on the fringes, the Democrats have not engaged in a series of investigations via Independent Counsel of his Presidency, as the Republicans did for nearly the entire eight years of the Clinton Administration. It bears mentioning that the first two years of Clinton's presidency, the Democrats controlled Congress, and they still went forward with the independent investigation of "their" President.

It also is a simple fact that one of the leading papers keeping the Whitewater story alive from 1992-1996 was the New York Times, allegedly friendly to Clinton. I have yet to see such searching journalistic investigation of the Bush Administration's various alleged scandals from its ideological soulmates at the Wall Street Journal, to name but one example.

Finally, the Republican hatred of Clinton led to their attempted impeachment of him over his undeniable lying during the Monica Lewinsky affair. I doubt very much that Democrats, even if they currently had majorities in the House and the Senate, would be attempting to impeach Bush. But that's just theorizing on my part, I know.

I hope the hatred of the other side in politics is not a trend. I'd like to see the extremes purged from both parties. Since Pat Buchanan and Ralph Nader seem to agree more than they disagree these days, maybe that will happen. But we're not there yet.

-- Eric

At 8:22 AM, April 21, 2005, Blogger Lichanos said...

Is the analysis of bumper stickers a worthwhile use of time by people interested in politics, ideas, and the state of our country? Neo-neocon's post was about ten times longer than the topic merits. Ooops, I've gone on too long....


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