Monday, May 23, 2005

OT: Busholatry

This is not a political blog and I apologize in advance for wading into the political swamps, but I have a question I haven't seen answered, at least not directly, by any of the blogs out there. The question is this:

What is the stupidest quote by a pundit giving absurdly inflated praise of President Bush, or comparing him to some great leader of the past?

I don't consider this a partisan question, by the way (I'm not very good at partisanship, anyway, and given that my own country's government has kleptocratic tendencies, I shouldn't really be going too far in mocking other countries' governments). Even sensible people who like Bush would acknowledge that comparing him to Churchill or calling him one of the great men of history is a bit much. Yet that's the kind of thing we've heard from quite a few conservative pundits in the last four years.

The quote that wins the prize for me in the realm of Busholatry or "Bush Love" (the opposite of "Bush Hatred") is this quote from Jay Nordlinger, managing editor of National Review and music critic for The New Criterion:

I have called George W. Bush a Rushmore-level president. I believe history will bear that out; and if it doesn't, history will be wrong. I think that Bush's reelection is crucial not only to this country but to the world at large. I not only think that Bush is the right man for the job; I have a deep fondness — love, really — for the man, though I don't know him.


But there are other choice ones. Like Norman Podhoretz:

Which is why I think (to say it one last time) that the amazing leader this President has amazingly turned out to be will — like the comparably amazing Harry Truman before him when he took on the Communist world — have the wind at his back as he continues the struggle against Islamist radicalism and its vicious terrorist armory.


Or this one from Mark Steyn, the right's answer to Frank Rich (except, instead of writing the same column once a week, he writes the same column three times a week), this from his National Post column of October 3, 2002:

The modest regular guy is a seductive lure in a democracy, but most politicians are posing at it. Major and Chr├ętien were. I don't think Bush is. He's wholly without personal vanity. He wouldn't care where you sat him in Westminster Abbey.


It's the hyperbole that makes it; to say that someone is "without personal vanity," you're already describing someone who doesn't exist, but he has to make sure to tell us that he's "wholly without personal vanity," i.e. without any non-saintly attributes whatsoever.

There must be others, in Fox News and Coulter country; those are just the quotes I came across. Any others?

I don't think there's been an American president who got this much adulation from his side's pundits since John F. Kennedy. At least, not during his presidency; there's a big Reagan cult now, but the stuff conservative pundits wrote about him at the time was often quite critical; for example, Podhoretz liked to rip Reagan for being, yes, too soft on Communism. This goes a long way toward explaining why conservative commentary was interesting to read in the '80s and mostly sucks nowadays.

It probably has something to do with the fact that Bush, like Kennedy, goes out of his way to hire, honor, and cultivate the acquaintance of ideologically-friendly intellectuals. But at least it took several decades for the writings of Kennedy-praising pundits to look ridiculous. Busholaters are jumping the gun and looking ridiculous right now.

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