The failed hyperbole of the past 8 years

Quick, who said this?

"Americans have watched in horror as President Bush has trampled on the Bill of Rights and the balance of power."

I’ll give you hints:

A. Oliver Stone
C. John Kerry, writing for the DSCC
D. The New York Times

Yes, I’m sorry to say that overwrought purple prose is the LEAD SENTENCE in the lead Sunday editorial of the paper I was so recently congratulating for having the good sense to back the Columbia Free Trade Agreement.

You know, I’ve got people over at the governor’s office all ticked off (see tomorrow’s letters to the editor) because of the mean, nasty, ugly things I supposedly said in my Sunday column about the gov, and I challenge to you go find ANYthing that I said that comes anywhere near the unsupported, gross hyperbole of "watched in horror" or "trampled on the Bill of Rights."

So does W. get all excited and whip off a letter to protest to the NYT? I doubt it. Nah, he just swallows his pride and works with Barack Obama as though he were already in office, as though they were co-presidents (which is exactly what he should be doing, under the circumstances). Which makes me wonder: Come January, will someone look back on the Bush/Obama hybrid interregnum and speak of "The failed policies of the past eight weeks?"

Democrats are thrilled that at long last, in January, Bush will no longer be in office. Me, too. But I’m even more thrilled that after January, I won’t have to listen to any more semi-deranged yammering about the guy. You know that I never liked him — he’s the guy who did in MY guy in the 2000 S.C. primary. But I have never, ever understood why some hate him SO much. The Bush haters can’t simply say, "I disagree with Mr. Bush and here’s why." Instead, they have to go way beyond reason in condemning him ABSOLUTELY in terms that render him utterly illegitimate and beyond the pale.

Get a grip, people. It’ll be over soon.

(Oh, and for those of you who will say, "But the NYT went on to explain its outrageous statement," let me say now — I read it. They failed to back up that sentence. Sorry, folks, but his playing fast and loose with FISA, to cite but one example given, just doesn’t amount to "trampling on the Bill of Rights." He should have worked to change the law rather than skirting it, but he did nothing to instill "horror" in a rational person. You "watch in horror" as a gang of thugs rape and murder an old lady — you merely DISAGREE WITH something so bloodless as scanning through telecommunications without proper authorization.)

27 thoughts on “The failed hyperbole of the past 8 years

  1. Doug Ross

    Is it too hard to imagine that there IS a significant segment of the population that does believe George Bush ranks as one of the worst Presidents in recent memory? I’m in that group. The Bush presidency has been an absolute disaster in my opinion. At least Nixon had a few good years before falling victim to what would be considered trivial today by the standards Bush, Rove, and Cheney have created.
    Following on his history of failing upward throughout his life, George Bush took the silver spoon out of his mouth and beat the gift horse to death.
    It’s not hyperbole if you believe it is true.

  2. Ish Beverly

    President Bush is solely hated because he beat the Democrats twice. An unforgivable sin to the fanatical liberal New York Times. It set their agenda back eight years, what the hell ever it is. They should be investigated as to how and why they want to run the country. Calling for the Electoral College to be abolished is their latest step to socialize the country.

  3. James D McCallister

    Oops, revisionist history alert: Bush did not “beat” the Dems in 2000; sorry, but he forever gets an asterisk for that one.

  4. Harry harris

    I don’t think it is hyperbole to point out that President Bush has:
    Placed prisoners captured in combat zones outside US jurisdiction to avoid judicial oversight – and denied it until proven.
    Weakened judicial oversight on eavesdropping practices.
    Initiated “signing statements” indicating intent to not execute provisions of bills passed and signed into law.
    Withheld Vice Presidential documents requested by congress in oversight hearings.
    Pardoned cronies involved in justice department irregularities who were senteced in court.
    Blocked congressional oversight of Vice President-led energy policy formulation.
    I am not attempting to sell newspapers, so I have no need to use a hyperpolic headline or lead-line, but “trampled” doesn’t seem too strong a word. ” Looked on in horror” to me seems less descriptive of Americans’ reactions as perhaps “yawned in resignation.”
    Those lead-lines seem no more hyperbolic to me than say “The boy who cried big government.” Hey. Y’all got papers to sell.

  5. Brad Warthen

    So you don’t see the difference between me invoking Aesop to make a point that I fully support — which is that this guy will always be against increased government involvement, whether it’s a good idea or not (while other people such as that crowd of politicos at Celia Saxon will always be FOR is, meaning that I won’t look to THEM to help me evaluate a proposal, either) and “watched in horror?”
    Where did you people study the use of the English language? I metaphorically invoke a tale meant to illustrate precisely the point I’m making (and one the gov would not argue with — he’s proud to be against big gummint). The Times says “watched in horror,” and was not speaking figuratively or ironically or anything else along those lines. I provided one example of something a reasonable person would “watch in horror.” Here are some others: The My Lai massacre. The butchery in Rwanda. Gang-rape and mutilation of victims in Darfur. The Hindenburg Disaster. The Twin Towers falling. The Japanese reducing Pearl Harbor to a smoking ruin. Men, women and children being herded into the Nazi death camps. The Bataan Death March.
    Get the idea? Words have meaning, and to apply those words, “watched with horror” to those things you listed is to suck all of the meaning out of those words. Once you use those words to describe, say, “Weakened judicial oversight on eavesdropping practices,” they no longer have any force. I mean, once you’ve done that, what do you use to describe the fire-bombing of Dresden?
    Doug, same problem: You said “absolute disaster.” There’s no way that any administration has been an “ABSOLUTE disaster” unless everyone in America is dead. Until you get to that point, at the very least (one could argue that it would not be ABSOLUTE unless all life on Earth came to an end), there is hope and a chance for redemption.
    People should not fling these words about so carelessly. As a professional flinger of words, I know.

  6. Karen McLeod

    Brad, the “horror” comes not only from what he did–make repeated efforts to subvert our justice system when it suited him, moving us from a State that supported human rights to a State that engaged in torture, twist the arms of those in the communications business to electronically pry into whomever’s communications, and create “free speech zones” well away from anyone else (the rest of the U.S. is NOT a free speech zone?) to name a few–but that he did it as President. Seems to me that I remember that he promised something about upholding and defending the Constitution of the US. That was the horrifying, terrifying part–that he would so twist the power of his office, and that no one chose to do anything about it. Yeah, I’ll buy that the prose is a little overwrought, but I think that you just plain are not seeing what scared so many of us so much. And we are definitely seeing the results of his avaricious tax and monetary policies. This man has done more than anyone else to remake the US in the image of a brutal 3rd world banana republic. And if he didn’t quite manage to rape the Bill of Rights, he surely assaulted her cruelly.

  7. martin

    You write a piece to inflame people and get the dialogue going. Then, you want to correct style and usage when they get all excited. I trust most people see this as less a grammar lesson, than an excuse to put others down and show what a superior creature you are.

  8. Harry Harris

    Brad, I think you missed my point on the “horror” expression. I may have stated it poorly. I said that I thought that part was inaccurate – that we were more apathetic and resigned, not horrified. I do support the idea that he trampled on the separation of powers doctrine and at least tread on the bill of rights. My point on the reference to our dear Governor as a “boy” was to illustrate the tendency of some journalists to use stark or excessive language to draw attention to a piece that is more informative than exciting. I tend to share your scepticism and criticism of our Governor, only I think you are sometimes too kind. I actually studied English as a second language. I grew up speaking Southern.

  9. p.m.

    At last a fitting criticism of the New York Times, but the Democrats respond by calling the president Monkey Boy.
    What else need be said?

  10. bud

    But I have never, ever understood why some hate him SO much.
    Because we believe he is a liar, a war monger and he tramples on our constitutional rights. What’s not to understand? Actually hate might not be the correct term. I’d probably use the expression “extreme disrespect”. Our disrespect of Bush goes beyond any basic disagreements in policy. We find him to be nothing but an arrogant fool who has destroyed the lives of many hundreds of thousands of people in a pique of self-aggrandizement to rid the world of the man who tried to kill his daddy. What an idiot. And a mean-spirited one at that.
    Yes I disrespect George W. Bush. That was not always the case. I was utterly indifferent between him and Gore in 2000, although I did think Gore deserved the election given his half million vote victory in the popular vote. Bush has earned this desrespect through his actions, not because of his party affiliation or some other intangible element. This whole conservative notion that us Bush “haters” did so because of the 2000 election is both wrong and narrow-minded. Heck if the economy was on sound footing now and we weren’t losing troops and treasure in a place we don’t belong I’d probably have great respect for the man.
    Bush is little different from a common criminal and he belongs in jail. But at least he won’t be in the White House much longer. Thank God.

  11. bud

    Brad, you didn’t “watch in horror” as our troops killed innocent civilians in Iraq? You didn’t watch in horror as our prison guards tortured and humiliated prisoners at Abu Ghraib? You didn’t watch in horror as thousands of people died in New Orleans because the president was too busy celebrating a birthday in Arizona? You didn’t watch in horror as the housing bubble burst and wiped out the savings of millions of Americans? You didn’t watch in horror as the WTC crashed because our president failed to comprehend the meaning of a critical presidential daily briefing? You didn’t watch in horror as the president continued reading to a group of 2nd graders AFTER he learned of the SECOND plane hitting the WTC? You didn’t watch in horror as Americans were kidnapped and beheaded or our troops were burned and hung from a bridge in Iraq? The NYT got it right this time.

  12. p.m.

    Bud, a man who can’t carry his home state doesn’t deserve to be elected president. Al Gore didn’t carry Tennessee, and he didn’t win the election. Believe it or not, I trust the judgment of the Supreme Court more than I do the Democrat horde calling the president a monkey boy, an idiot and a fool even after you’ve vanquished him ideologically in the election. I trust the judgment of Jefferson, Adams and Franklin more than that of modern Democrats, too. They gave us an electoral college, so amend the Constitution and quit grousing about it, because you don’t have a legal complaint until you do, and you sound like a five-year-old raking his fingernails down a blackboard.

  13. Lee Muller

    The only “Constitutional rights” the Democrats seem to care about are the ones their judges invent.
    Most of their loudest complaints about President Bush are for things he didn’t do, and many that never happened.
    * “Illegal war” – authorized by Democrats in 1998, “to remove Saddam Hussein by any means possible”. Reauthorized for Bush, even though it was not necessary, because Democrats wanted to go on record supporting the invasion of Iraq.
    * “spying on Americans” – only those who contacted terrorists or drug dealers whoh were under surveillance outside the U.S.
    * “lied about WMD” – Bill Clinton made 90 speeches about Iraqi WMD between 1998 and 2003. We captured and inventoried 650,000 tons of WMD in Iraq, and our satellites showed caravans moving from chemical weapons centers to Syria.
    * “tax cuts for the rich” – No, the 2001 tax cuts were across the board for everyone who paid taxes. It was Clinton who cut the capital gains tax for investment bankers in half. It was Clinton who promised a “middle-class tax cut”, then lied and passed the largest tax increase in history on working people.
    * “budget deficits” – Yes, and no excuse, since his tax cuts and economic resurgance generated enough extra revenue to pay for the war on terrorism and leave a surplus.
    But the deficits Bush ran were HALF what the Democrats wanted. We can see that, now that they control Congress, and have run up more deficit spending in 15 months than in the previous 6 years.
    * “Clinton budget surplus” – never happened. The Treasury Dept figures show deficits every year, as large as the Bush ones.

  14. KJ

    This choice of words should come as no surprise to anyone, but especially not to someone connected with the media. It seems nothing can be stated simply anymore as many happenings that are reported as ‘news’ are embellished to draw more attention. I, personally, don’t understand the extreme views that many of the vocal people seem to hold and the need to vocalize them in the most extreme language possible only hurts the chances of being really heard.
    As for Bud’s examples of horrific events given above, life must be pretty bland if anything listed there created a sense of horror for him. First, to attribute all of those things directly to Bush is ridiculous. It would be similar to blaming the the CEO of The McClatchy Company for missteps by Brad Warthen. I’m sure that if Brad were to screw up in horrific ways corrective actions would be taken. Second, to attribute the ‘housing bubble’ to Bush is equally ridiculous since the foundation for the bubble was laid in the 90s and the prediction of a rupture has been around since the late 90s as well. So, I’m thinking that Bud does a pretty good job of sensationalizing things on his own.

  15. bud

    The New York Post is reporting that Ann Coulter has broken her jaw and has had to have it wired shut. If true that would make the month of November the greatest political month in history.

  16. Rich

    For me, the issues are social and cultural, as well as economic. Since the economic meltdown began, values issues have taken a back seat and are hardly mentioned at all in the popular press–so caught up are we all in keeping the country from sliding into a second Great Depression. It’s understandable.
    But issues involving religion, culture, and values in general are always there waiting for the debate to resume. Do we continue to support Roe v. Wade? should we extend full civil rights to gays? should we engage in stem-cell research? should we teach evolution only in the public school science classrooms? should government in general assume an extensive role in assuring the social and economic welfare of our citizens? do we include those who have crossed illegally into this country to do menial labor the rest of us don’t want to do?
    These issues are not going to go away and by playing to the Republican conservative, religious core of voters who would never have voted for Obama because they don’t think Jesus wanted them to, McCain assured his defeat by alienating the soft center of American politics that has always determined our elections.
    I do believe that the combination of Republican economic fecklessness while they were in office (led by one George Bush) combined with an increasingly hard-line theocratic approach on social and cultural issues led to a massive defection of potential Republican voters in the center to the Democrats simply because the combination of economic failure and values-based intolerance was more than they could stomach.
    This is why I see the Republican Party becoming an increasingly regional party representing essentially a gun-toting, rural, low-information, fundamentalist constituency which, election after election, will show itself to be more and more out of the political mainstream of this country, In an earlier post, I had suggested that the Republicans could revitalize themselves by becoming once again the party of Lincoln, TR, and Eisenhower–a party that had its roots in the preservation of the Union on the basis of the three Reconstruction Amendments combined with economic probity, fiscal conservatism, and social libertarianism. In short, the Republicans could recapture the best in their heritage and become poised, once again, to take power in the future when the public tires of the Democrats (which, I don’t think, will be for quite awhile).
    We need a big-tent Republican Party that is not based on cultural intolerance, religious obscurantism, or Biblical eschatology. Lest you think I exaggerate, you need to pay attention to what the right’s protestant divines have been preaching lately concerning Israel, the projected building of the Third Temple (which they would like to see happen), and what the United States can do “to hasten the Lord’s coming.” Religious fundamentalism is not simply in alliance with the Republicans, it has moved to its core. Prophecy is taken seriously by these people.
    As long as the Republicans continue to push spending without taxation (especially on the military) and as long as they continue to scare the political center of this country with their Iran-style theocratic tendencies (I, for one, do not want to live in a Christian republic any more than I would want to live in an Islamic one!), they will remain the party of a string of rural, conservative states stretching from the deep South up to Idaho and Alaska.
    Bush has had a cavalier attitude toward his political opposition and a cowboy attitude to the world. American insularity, obliviousness to the wider world, and crass me-first materialism has been widely and thoroughly loathed in the world since our needless invasion of Iraq in 2003.
    Just think if the Supreme Court had not stolen the election for George Bush and if we had elected Al Gore as president! What would our situation be now? Of course, counter-factual history can never be proven; it runs completely counter to the historical method of inquiry which is solidly empirical in nature. But it makes for a great parlor game and it lurks in the back of Americans’ minds when they go to vote.
    Bush-hatred is, therefore, not unreasonable given the trajectory of this country for the last two presidential terms and the parlous condition economically, politically, and militarily in which we find our nearly bankrupt and over-extended empire. Unfortunately, the religious conservatives of this country will continue to vote against their own economic and political interests in order to advance their socio-cultural, religious agenda.
    That, unfortunately, will doom the Republicans to marginality for the next two or more generations unless they can recapture their roots as the party of Lincoln, limited government, and fiscal conservatism.
    Then we would once again have a viable two-party system. But, hey, I am a Democrat. It will please me greatly to see the Democracy in power for a generation or more, implementing more and more its left-leaning platform. If the Republicans want to marginalize themselves and put up Sarah Palin as the smiling, pretty, and pretty ignorant face of the party, so be it!!

  17. Lee Muller

    How come the Democrats who were complaining about the $300 Billion deficits signed by President Bush are now silent on the $1,000 Billion deficit created by Nancy Pelosi to bail out the Democrats’ junk mortgage programs?
    How come Obama can talk about running an $8 TRILLION deficit and none of his supporters even blink?

  18. H

    How do u know I’m a Democrat? And it is true–with his big ears and minimal intelect he does look like a monkey. And he is male. So, Monkey Boy!!!

  19. Lee Muller

    I hadn’t thought about it, but you’re right – Obama does look like a monkey. That’s rude to say, though. I a glad I wasn’t the one to bring it up.
    Wait till Obama gets to monkeying around with the economy. This Obama stock market crash is just a prelude.

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