Friday, December 09, 2005

Bush Derangement Syndrome: Meme 6

Back in January 2003, Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer published what would prove his greatest hit: “Bush Derangement Syndrome.” Establishing his infallible expertise as a kind of doctor in the first line, with a reference to an article he once had published in a medical journal, he declared he’d discovered another psychiatric syndrome:

Bush Derangement Syndrome: the acute onset of paranoia in otherwise normal people in reaction to the policies, the presidency -- nay -- the very existence of George W. Bush.

He seized specifically some of the few, silliest charges against W which are neither true nor improvements on the truth, to denigrate the sanity and judgment of all the many millions of people for whom W’s incumbency is a source of profound unease. At the time I thought Krauthammer’s column was (besides being craptacular in the author’s usual smug and smarmy way) perhaps ill advised, since in the state of Virginia, where the Post is printed, false imputation of mental illness, like that of venereal disease, is a category of libel for which the plaintiffs do not have to show economic loss. Howard Dean, in his backsliding Vichycratic mode, didn’t bother to take Krauthammer to court (He may have been a bit busy what with running for president and all.) and that’s a shame, because it would have made for interesting and perhaps enlightening arguments, at least.

The column, notwithstanding its sophomoric prose, its Limbaugh-like freight of clichés and straw men, its distorting quotes out of context, its wholly projective thesis, its lapse into preening archaisms – nay – because of these things, has gone on to become a big hit among the Bush fans. Google Bush Derangement Syndrome and you’ll get thousands of megadittoes from right wing bloggers; it is lovingly invoked every day. "BDS" has become a powerful meme in the Cult of Bush, and they invoke it often, hoping it will deflect scrutiny of their Beloved the way a cross reportedly discourages vampires.

As I have previously said in this series, hatred of W does have its irrational, self-blind, and projective components. But even if its sufferers cannot account for or articulate their loathing with perfect rationality, that does not mean it is not soundly based. Krauthammer sounds here like the sort who would have dined at the Captain's table, amusing the Astors, et al., with his haughty quips about the Ice Derangement Syndrome in certain quadrants of the crew quarters and steerage, while heartily urging the skipper to push the Titanic even harder. (To be continued)


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