Learnin' Equals Hate
By Gil Christner
Traub in the New York Times magazine writes:
Scrutiny of the New York Times best-seller
list discloses a new and important trend: Bush-hating has
eclipsed Clinton-, Democrat- and liberal-elite-hating.
His proof? At the time he wrote his article, Michael Moore's
book had the number one spot, while Bill O'Reilly's was number
two. And to add fuel to the fire, he mentions Al Franken's
tome holding on at number three, plus Molly Ivins and David
Corn, who also have books high on the best seller list. (However,
to rub salt in his, and O'Reilly's, wounds, as of this writing
Franken had indeed overtaken Bill in the #2 spot.)
This brings up two interesting points, which may actually
be two sides of the same coin. The first is, this may be the
first time in months, if not years, that left-leaning books
outnumber those that lean to the right. But Mr. Traub (and
indeed, a number of pundits who are aghast at the current
spate of "Bush Hatred," as if it's some kind of disease instead
of a made-up phenomenon to obfuscate passionate political
discourse) chooses not to report that Lefty and Progressive
Thought is actually being chosen at will by the populous at
large. No, instead, they like to announce that "Hatred Is
And the second interesting thing is, one wonders aloud and
with the shaking of one's head in amazement, where these horrified
pundits were a while ago when Ann Coulter and Rush Limbaugh
were spewing their own brand of "passionate discourse?"
Evidently what's sauce for the goose is just plain scandalous
and dreadful when applied to the gander. Mr. Traub is shocked
- shocked! - to find that after years of brow-beating by the
Rightists, the Lefties in this country might fire back with
the same force and fervor. Mr. Traub goes on:
For those of us of hopelessly moderate temperament,
dipping into the inky depths of these volumes offers something
of the wicked and barely licit pleasures of a Victoria's Secret
catalogue. I had forgotten, for example, until David Corn
reminded me, that President Bush contemptuously dismissed
his own E.P.A.'s 268-page study admitting that global warming
posed a grave threat to this country by saying, 'I read the
report put out by the bureaucracy.' Hatred is delicious.
We guess, however, that Mr. Traub was happy to have Ann
Coulter remind him that half of America's population is treasonous.
But that's not the problem. The problem is that Lefty thought
is being belittled and rejected as "Bush Hatred," when it
is only being couched in the same terms and form that the
Rightist platform has been presented in for the past 10 years.
To give Mr. Traub credit, he does admit that the Rightists
have been Haters themselves, beginning with Newt Gingrich
back in the previous millennium. Liberals, and liberalism
itself, got blitzed by Newt Gingrich and his minions a decade
ago. But as President Bush himself likes to say, "Fool
me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me." [Note:
actually, the exact quote is, "Fool me once... shame on...
shame on you... fool me... can't get fooled again," which,
we imagine, Mr. Bush took from rehearsal tapes of The Who].
Mr. Traub continues:
And so liberals are fighting back against Bush with
the same vitriol that has been dumped on them…It's satisfying;
but I don't see how it can be a good thing, either for public
debate or ultimately for the electoral prospects of the Democrats,
to have liberals descend to the level of rabid conservatives.
Ah, at last, we get to the nugget of the entire argument.
The Left should not engage in the same tactics that the Right
has been using for years, because, after all, it's, uh, er…
well… that makes them "haters!" Yeah, that's it! Bush haters!
Nasty, disgusting, Bush haters!
Of course, labeling someone a "Bush hater" is an excellent
device for polemic-spewers. It's yet another way to demean
and dismiss without actually dealing with the issues being
The specific issue at hand is that Lefty thought is starting
to make itself seen on the best seller lists, and, we can
assume therefore, in the hearts and minds of millions of Americans.
But Mr. Traub doesn't want to discuss that phenomenon. It
seems that if Lefty's become as popular as Rightists, it's
not because the value of their ideas is perceived by at least
half of the country as something worthwhile, but because people
just "loves to hate."
But the sudden rash of jeremiads and their stunning popularity
raises a question: why are so many liberals, including sane
and sober ones, granting themselves permission to hate the
Mr. Traub does not sees Leftys' discussion of their political
stances as people expressing their opposing viewpoint to the
current administration, oh no. They are "giving themselves
permission to hate the president." Funny, we thought it was
Luckily there are those that can see the best seller phenomenon
as something else besides the rise of "hate." Publishers
Weekly actually reports on it semi-objectively:
"This year's market [for political titles]
seems stronger than ever," said Simon & Schuster publisher
David Rosenthal…"I don't think I've ever seen so many books
by the left on the bestseller list. It's rather astounding…There
seems to be [a strong current of] divisiveness in the country,
and louder debate than ever before. The liberal and progressive
trend started before 9/11 and was a result of a divisive administration
and their policies. Karl Rove does not a kinder and gentler
book buyer make."
Is loud debate the same as hate? We don't think so. We agree
with Molly Ivins:
Did you know that it is quite possible not to hate
someone and at the same time notice that their policies are
disastrous for people in this country? Quite a thought, isn't
it? Grown-ups can actually do that…
One could hope that grown-ups would stop labeling opposing
viewpoints as "Hatred," and actually debate the merits. But
even if that is asking too much, there is no denying the reality
that Lefty thought is making a strong appearance on the best
seller lists. Call it Hatred, call it Vitriol, call it a cab
for a ride to the airport, but it is a reality that a huge
amount of Americans want to consider another side of the story.
And we don't think that's particularly hateful.
Gil Christner is a writer and actor living in Los Angeles.
He's the guy on the Disney World commercial that lies to his
wife "We're on the Tower of Terror even as we speak" when
he and his buds are actually playing golf, as if hitting a
little ball was so much worse than riding an amusement park