Why I won't be buying "Bush-Hater's Handbook"

This week I got an e-mail solicitation to purchase:

"The Bush-Hater's Handbook: A Guide to the Most Appalling Presidency of the Past 100 Years"

The e-mail quoted Bob Fertik, co-founder of Democrats.com as saying: "Bush-hating is a
demanding vocation. Beginners simply hate Bush's character--ignorant, warmongering, and contemptuous of those who dare to question him.
Intermediates cite Bush's theft of the presidency, turning a $5 trillion surplus into a $5 trillion deficit, destroying 3 million jobs, and waging a war of lies in Iraq. But advanced Bush-haters need an in-depth understanding of the devastation Bush has wrought at home and abroad. From AIDS to the 'War on Terrorism,' from Ashcroft to welfare 'reform,' there is no better guide to Bush's reign of horror than The Bush-Hater's Handbook."

If you want to explore the "Bush-Hater's Handbook" in more detail, go to http://www.nationbooks.org/book.mhtml?t=huberman. This book may well have a place in libraries, as might Richard Perle's new book "The End of Evil", but I don't plan to purchase either book.

My particular problem with this book starts with the title and the attitude expressed by Mr. Fertik, which I know is shared by many otherwise reasonable people. That of total visceral hatred of the President and his minions, which extends to bloody frothing and frequent crude humor.

I do hate many of the President's unjust and unwise policies. Many of these policies, especially that of "preventive war" will eventually destroy this country if continued indefinitely.

However, as Gandhi teaches, it is VITAL that we separate our anger at his policies from personal hatred of the man. In Christian tradition, "Hate the sin, but love the sinner."

Why is it vital? In my view, for two basic reasons related to November. First, focusing our hatred on the man, taking it out in crude humor, painting swastikas on his ties, etc, takes away energy that could be used to better explain the President's failed policies and more importantly, formulate some authentic alternatives. Second, the more we accept the originally Republican label of "Bush Hater," the easier Karl Rove's work is as he helps push the meme of "The hate Bush/Hate America" crowd. We sadly live in a society increasingly accepting of bald propaganda -- think of the "Saddam did 9/11" thinking that held (still holds?) more than half the country in thrall -- even though even the DoD disavowed a connection when they had a chance to have a "See I told you so!" moment. In the same way, the more that Republicans can say:

Democrats hate Bush
Hatred of Bush = Hatred of America
Therefore, Democrats HATE America

They can still TRY if we focus on the policies the President is pursuing, but it will be much harder to fool "middle America" if we're not flinging obscenties and ridiculing our enemies.

Going back to the example of Gandhi, he often stated that he hated every last brutal, unjust policy of the British Gov't in India, but he wished nothing but health and blessings for the Governor-General and prayed each night that the Governor would be converted to right and justice. Gandhi's approach did eventually lead to home rule. If we adopt his ways in our politics, perhaps we can convince the 5% or so of our opponents we need to send Mr. Bush back to Crawford. We sure won't get there by calling them mindless evil ones following their dark lord.


Thoughtful and wise commentary Daniel. I find the best revenge is living well.

I never "hated" Clinton either. Though as a Republican I could certainly find my justification. Hate consumes. I refused to let Clinton consume me, nor should Bush haters allow this President to consume them. Again, reasoned words and an opinion I respect though don't fully agree with.

I would only posit that judging Bush's policies as failed, is premature. As the student of foreign policy that I discern you are, you understand that U.S history is riddled with the foreign policy decisions that required the passing of many years to fully assess. Then only to be re-assessed by historians looking to make a buck ; )

In fairness to Bush, I would hope that you agree that it is simply too soon to judge his foreign policy as a failure. The Abu Nidal connection, possible movement of WMD to Syria, the formation of a new, sovereign Iraq, etc.. who really knows how this is going to shake out?

Heck, many viewed Bush 41's victory in the Gulf War as a success right after the war. With the passing of time, I'm not sure those same folks (or myself) would agree today.

Again, nice thoughts.

Thank you Tomeboy, I found your remarks to be thoughtful as well.I agree with you that History will be the ultimate judge of President Bush's foreign policy, of which his policy of preventive war is simply one piece. You're also right that none of us really know how this is all going to shake out.However, given the tremendous costs of preventive war in lives, treasure and international standing, it doesn't seem like a bad idea to form some preliminary conclusions about whether this approach is effective. The military has a wise policy of examining each conflict from a "lessons learned" perspective soon after a conflict or even specific battle ends.The problem with measuring the success or failure of the iraq war is the problem of agreeing on war aims. If a person believes that the primary war aim in invading Iraq was simply the removal of Saddam Hussein, then we succeded. If a person believes the primary aim of the war was to bring democracy and freedom to Iraq, then CLEARLY it is too early to draw conclusions. We won't know the results of this experiment for years.I work from the assumption that PRIMARY aims of the Iraq war were 1) To secure and destroy the WMD stockpile of Saddam Hussein, which American and British sources said a) to exist, b) to be large (tons, thousands of gallons, etc), and c) to be immediately usable by the regime and 2) To reduce the terrorist threat to the heartland of the United States by denying al-Qaeda a base of operations and a source of supplies. This was needed because of the nexus between al-Qaeda and Saddam Hussein's Iraq.I arrived at my belief that these two aims were primary based on speeches made by President Bush and other administration officials between Septemer 2002 and Ari Fleischer's announcement in April 2003 that "the disarmanment of Iraq has begun." Provided that the statements come pre war, I'd welcome any discussion that other war aims had priority over securing/destroying WMDs and reducing terrorist threat to the US.Based on these two criteria, I think we can say with confidence we have failed on the first aim. Nearly a year has gone by without significant finds -- the 40 or so mustard gas shells found by the Danes were corroded hulks from the Iran-Iraq war and apparently unusable. Since we have no large stocks of unconventionals weapons in hand, it appears that one of the following is likely true:1) No stockpiles were there to find -- If true, a tremendous waste of American blood and resources.2) Stockpiles were there, but have been transferred to third parties -- If true, then this war was ineffective at preventing the transfer of weapons to hostile 3rd parties.It seems highly unlikely large stockpiles are left to find in view of the number of high Iraqi officials we have in custody, and the motivated guerrilla and terror groups who've had most of this time to spirit supplies out of the country. I assume (without proof) that David Kay agrees with me or he wouldn't have resigned from the Iraq Survey Group.As to the second war aim of reducing the terror threat to the United States from terrorism, I can't honestly evaluate without access to classified information. However several researchers from the Cato Institute and one Professor from the Army War College have concluded from their research that attacking Iraq has not kept the terrorists away.What we seem to left with is a war that so far over 500 coalition soldiers have died, nearly 3000 wounded (closer to 6000 if you listen to David Hackworth), thousands of Iraqi military dead and possibly hundreds of Iraqi civilian deaths, and over $100 Billion spent that might have been spent on other things. That we paid that price without gaining security for ourselves seems like a failed policy to me. Many more wars like that and America will fall -- under its own weight, or more remotely, from a desparate coalition of the unsavory.At least we toppled one brutal dictator, and I hope, brought some long-needed relief to the Kurds. The overthow of Saddam would mean more to me if we did not persist in counting dictators and torturers among our allies (Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, etc). If we believe in freedom, it should be freedom for all. We don't necessarily need to overthrow all these governments by invasion, but we must stop giving them our active support if we want to be serious about leading the charge of liberty.- Daniel

Well you have certainly articulated your points well. I am at a loss at where to begin. Regardless, for the sake of brevity I will just make a few points.

* I don't disagree with your primary reasons for war. However, we should remember that it was not only the Brits and Americans making claims about WMD, but the UN as well. As for the need for coalition building, some question the Security Council's recalcitrance to accept the war resolution in light of the long economic ties Germany, France and cash-strapped Russia had with Iraq. Does this change anything with respect to justification for war? I really don't know but it does deserve mentioning.

* I would ask that you consider a third possibility regarding the whereabouts of WMD, that being they were destroyed by Iraq pre-war. If this were the case then I would submit that the first aim was successful. However, we don't know at this time hence my original contention that too little time and information has passed to make any sound judgments.

* I think it is also worth noting former UN Chief Weapons Inspector Dr. David McKay thoughts in Human Events (10/2003) about Iraq's nuclear weapons program. Particularly his belief that had they gotten enriched uranium or plutonium, that they were less than one year from making a bomb. This type of WMD isn't stockpiled, but fabricated in hidden labs with coerced scientists. Does this change anything if true with respect to preemption?

*Lastly (sorry, I said I would be pithy but obviously am not) I would ask you to consider the post 9/11 world with respect to foreign policy. The world has changed. Foreign policy must now address enemies not seen or geographically "cookie-cuttered" within political boundaries. As you know, terror rather than ideology is now the currency of the realm. Good old policies like Reagan's MAD (mutually assured destruction) are long gone. Preemption, with a good dose of intelligence (hopefully accurate) is now the name of the game. Now I understand that all the Dems are lamenting about "bad intelligence" but that is simply the nature of intelligence. You go with what you got and either pull the trigger or holster. Bush fired. Kerry fired too but now says his gun went off by mistake.

* Lastly, I don't think we should ignore the recent developments with Libya and now Pyongyang's overtures with resuming dialogue with the US in light of the Iraq war. Again, as a conservative I historically took an isolationist position with foreign policy. Haiti, Bosnia, heck even Grenada, were all conflicts I felt we needn't pursue, however, this is a different time and yes I do feel more secure that Saddam is gone. That justifies all that our men and women have done. At least for me.

Good discussion.

Daniel, if interested here is the full citation to the cover story article in Human Events re David McKay. You may find his thoughts about the media interesting.

"Saddam Could Have Built Nuke in Year"
written by Ryskind, Allan
Human Events 10/13/2003 pg.1

(regrets about leading with two "Lastly's" in my previous post. I didn't mean to get your hopes up with the first ; )

Tomeboy,I want to thank you for stating your side of the case well, too.---------Digression for possible public------In case anyone else is actually following this discussion besides me and Tomeboy, I strongly suggest you read the Human Events article he refers to in his post. The full citation is in another Tomeboy posting.If you are lucky enough to have access to EBSCO's MasterFilePremier, you should be able to click on the link below:Saddam Could Have Built Nuke in Year.It's a short, worthwhile perspective on the Kay Report.--------------End Digression-----------------Now for discussion of prior points:With respect with the UN, I think I'll simply concede your point and move on. Strange as it may sound, I have no great love for the United Nations as a whole because we keep having things happen like Syria run the human rights commission. I think some of the subsidery agencies like UNESCO, UNICEF, WHO and so forth have important roles to play.You said "I would ask that you consider a third possibility regarding the whereabouts of WMD, that being they were destroyed by Iraq pre-war."You are absolutely correct. I made a mistake in listing this possibility. I further concede that if they did so, it was likely out of fear of our amassed armies.This possibility doesn't seem likely to me because it leads to the question "Why did Iraq destroy its weapons but offer no credible evidence of having done so?" There's no profit in it, if you see what I mean. If they did this, it seemed like they were begging for an invasion, while giving up the chance to inflict major casualities on our forces.With regard to the Human Events article, I appreciate you pointing it out to me. If the claims in the article are true, it would make something of a case for preemption. I look forward to the final report, if it issued and if enough of it is unclassified to make sense. For reasons below, I don't accept preemption as a concept.With regard to "the world has changed since 9/11" and "Preemption, with a good dose of intelligence (hopefully accurate) is now the name of the game." Despite the events of 9/11, I still think that premption is wrong for practical and moral reasons. This is likely an area where we simply have to agree to disagree, but FWIW here is a capsule summary of my beliefs:Practical - It is unrealistic to believe that we can keep preemption in our hands alone. If we continue to set an example of preemption, others will follow. India will use "best intelligence" to lash out at Pakistan, China will seize Taiwan before Taiwan can declare independence, Turkey will seize Armenia, and so forth.Moral - As a confessing Christian, I simply can't support striking the first blow. I'm not necessarily endorsing "turn the other cheek" for nations," but even the Old Testament did not permit you to take an eye before your eye was taken out. I know many Christians in America disagree with me, but this is the position I've come to through prayer and Bible study.I think that if America puts itself forth as a God-fearing, Christian nation as much as our leadership does, we should be prepared to practice the sacrificial servant-leadership of Christ. If we want to be the new Rome as some writers have suggested, then we should cut the God and Justice talk and reinstitute the draft.It's a debate worth having at the national level, and I would love to see it happen. We've kind of been on autopilot for the past few years.Working on your last lastly -- (whew!) First I'd like to say that our troops have done very well. That I don't agree with the political leadership doesn't take away from them doing the best job they possibly can under these trying circumstances. I wish there weren't tens of thousands of them on "stop-loss" orders preventing them from retiring or leaving the service now that they completed their original commitments.I don't know enough about Libya's recent history to comment. However, as far as Pyongyang goes, I think Reagan's "Trust, but verify" comes into play here. North Korea has been making a game of pretending to talk for years. We have a week or two discussion, then they drop another (rhetorical) nuclear bomb shell. If they're still serious a few months from now, I'll eat my words -- just drop me a note.If you're still up for discussion, tell me why you feel safer now that Saddam is gone. If you were a Kurd or Shia, I wouldn't have to ask.For my part, I won't feel that much safer until Saudi oil money stops fueling so many Mosque schools that preach hate against the West. If you're interested there's a good article in the Atlantic called The fall of the House of Saud that details our ally's threat to the West. To be fair, now that al-Qaeda is killing Saudi citizens, perhaps the Saudis are cracking down a little harder.

Well, there are several reasons I feel safer without Saddam. Here are just a few.(I'll try brevity...again)

Working from my home grown premise (opinion) that the nexus of all this turmoil, Al Qaida/Iraq, IMHO stems from two overarching issues, 1) the Israeli/Palestinian problem and 2) American troups on Saudi soil.

* Saddam's removal leaves the Palestinians with one less powerful supporter. My hope is that this lessening of leverage will force the Palestinians to get serious about peace.

* Without Saddam, Saudi Arabia/Kuwait have lost a threatening neighbor and no longer need our security. Hopefully we can get our guys/gals out of there sometime soon and placate the Bin Laden types who don't like infidels on sacred soil.

*Saddam's removal also eliminates the marriage of convenience between the Abu Nidal gang and Saddam. One less safe haven to coordinate terrorist operations against the US.

* Hopefully the citizens of Iraq will keep their own oil money (at least most) and develop a strong economy. Keeping the UN out is critical in my judgement. Their pilfering of the Oil for Food program was shameful. Happy, free Iraqi's equals a safer middle-east and potential trade partner for the U.S.

* And just the overall feeling that the world is safer with one less tyrant with an army who had designs to develop a nuclear weapon.

(again, just my opinions here)

It's ironic that you mention your opposition to striking the first blow as a Christian. I too am a Christian, and have as one of my reference librarians a Presbyterian who is in seminary. (BTW I'm Catholic)

In one of our regular discussions on current topics yesterday, we discussed the policy of preemption. He mentioned, as you have, that as a Christian he has moral reservations about supporting preemption as a policy. So, perhaps there are many Christians who agree with your position?? Knowing that my own church, Roman Catholic, does not espouse this policy, I candidly have a lot of internal conflict about this.

More importantly, at least to me, it's nice to know there are still librarians who publicly acknowledge they are Christian. (How bout' that can of worms for a later topic? ; )

I'm happy to be brief too!I'm Catholic as well. I joined the Church about 12 years ago. I usually go with Christian first as in a "Christian in the Catholic tradition."Second, you've given me a lot to think about with your list of reasons for Americans to feel objectively safer without Saddam in power. It gives me something to think about and I won't be as quick to dismiss people who make that statement.Hopefully we will ultimately do a good job of reconstruction in Iraq and help them find a healthful balance for religion in their society.I'm pessimistic about that, but remain prayerful that it could happen.I've really appreciated the chance to have a constructive conversation with someone who's made different policy choices.Take care,Daniel

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