Democrats and selective memory

First we had Bush Derangement Syndrome; now it’s Bush Derangement Amnesia.

Democrat National Committee flack Brad Woodhouse appeared on Martin Bashir’s show on MSNBC, where ratings are counted in gender studies graduates, to complain Republicans are mean to President Obama.

Not like Democrats. They were inviting President Bush out to dinner and a movie every other night, sending flowers to the White House. Do you have any idea how many boxes of Knipschildt’s truffles Nency Pelosi charged to her credit card?

Woodhouse told Bashir:

I don’t remember anything that equates from official Democratic Party. I mean, of course there are interest groups and people have their say, but I don’t remember anything coming from Democratic Party about George W. Bush being equated to a terrorist or George W. Bush being equated to somebody who has been accused of manslaughter. I don’t remember anybody questioning some of the things about George W. Bush that have been questioned about the president. I don’t remember an opposing Governor wagging his or her finger in president George W. Bush’s face. The truth is, is that the Republican Party starts from a core of extreme positions and it seems that leads to extreme rhetoric when things don’t work out for them with the voters.

The Weekly Standard’s Mark Hemingway pointed out this was manure of the equine variety.

Charles Krauthammer coined the term ‘Bush Derangement Syndrome’ to describe ‘the acute onset of paranoia in otherwise normal people in reaction to the policies, the presidency – nay – the very existence of George W. Bush.’ BDS saw liberals sob hysterically about fascism, Hitler, and impeach-ashcroftnazi-patriotact-cheneyhalliburton-foxnews-bushstoletheelection-moronmoronmoron-nowarforoil-bushliedkidsdied.

This took the form of an endless stream of placards calling for Bush’s assassination at anti-war protests (this was before the Tea Party and the advent of the Senior Deconstructing-Signs-at-Rallies-Critical-of-the-President Correspondent on the nightly news broadcasts); the proliferation of ‘assassination porn’ (Slate magazine’s term, not mine) like Nicholson Baker’s Checkpoint, Gabriel Range’s Death of a President, or a Guardian columnist’s plaintive cry ‘John Wilkes Booth, Lee Harvey Oswald, John Hinckley Jr – where are you now that we need you?’; and the slew of books, movies, and websites dedicated to the President’s malapropisms, his plan to turn America fascist, and conspiracies about his foreknowledge of the 9/11 attacks.

Of course, none of these people were from what Woodhouse calls the ‘official Democratic Party’. True enough. So let’s have a look at what the official Democratic Party did say about Bush.

John Kerry

Appearing on Bill Maher’s show in October 2006, the senior Senator from Massachusetts told the host he’d taken his wife on a trip to Vermont for her birthday. Then the following exchange took place:

MAHER: You could have went to New Hampshire and killed two birds with one stone.

KERRY:  Or, I could have gone to 1600 Pennsylvania and killed the real bird with one stone.

Remember kids, if you study hard and you do your homework, you won’t end up telling crass jokes like that.

Howard Dean

The Democrat presidential candidate appeared on the The Diane Rehm Show on public radio station WAMU on December 1, 2003. In response to a caller asking if a President Dean would ensure a ‘thorough investigation of 9/11’, Dean responded thus:

DEAN: There is a report which the president is suppressing evidence for which is a thorough investigation of 9/11.

REHM: Why do you think he’s suppressing that report?

DEAN: I don’t know. There are many theories about it. The most interesting theory that I’ve heard so far, which is nothing more than a theory, I can’t—think it can’t be proved, is that he was warned ahead of time by the Saudis. Now, who knows what the real situation is, but the trouble is that by suppressing that kind of information, you lead to those kinds of theories, whether they have any truth to them or not, and then eventually they get repeated as fact. So I think the president is taking a great risk by suppressing the clear, the key information that needs to go to the Kean commission.

Dean’s conspiracy-mongering about the worst terrorist attack in American history might not have helped his presidential bid but it didn’t prevent his later appointment as chair of the Democrat National Committee.

Keith Ellison

The Congressman for the Minnesota fifth district gave a speech to Atheists for Human Rights in July 2007 in which he compared President Bush’s response to 9/11 to Hitler’s exploitation of the Reichstag fire – an even more sinister dimension added by the widespread, though disputed, belief that the Nazis started the fire as a pretext to impose tyranny. Ellison said:

9/11 explains why we’re in this war. We could never be in this war but for 9/11. We could never be tolerating torture but for 9/11. Because when they argued for torture they said, ‘Well, if you know that somebody could stop a bomb if you torture them, would you go for it, man, because remember 9/11’. Right? You would never have all this discrimination against religious minorities but for 9/11. You had it but you didn’t have it to the degree we have it now. 9/11 is this juggernaut event in American history and it allows—I mean, it’s almost like the Reichstag fire; it kind of reminds me of that. Does everybody know what I’m talking about? Well, I mean, you and I both know but—but the thing is—is that, you know, after the Reichstag was burned, they blamed the Communists for it and it put the leader of that country in a position where he could basically have authority to do whatever he wanted.

For good measure, in the same speech Ellison also accused Dick Cheney of ‘totalitarianism, authoritarianism, and dictatorship’.

Charlie Rangel

In June 2005, Congressman Charlie Rangel (D-NY 15) appeared on WWRL-AM radio to put President Bush’s decision to intervene in Iraq into perspective. The war was, for Rangel, ‘the biggest fraud ever committed on the people of this country… This is just as bad as the six million Jews being killed’.

Cynthia McKinney

The former Congresswoman for the Georgia eleventh and later fourth district is so crazy her fellow Democrats primaried her – twice – just to get her out of Congress. She made a name for herself with her hardline anti-Israel views and her handlers made a name for themselves with their antisemitic outbursts.

But most of her ire was reserved for President Bush. In a 2002 radio interview, Congresswoman McKinney said:

We know there were numerous warnings of the events to come on September 11th… What did this administration know and when did it know it, about the events of September 11th? Who else knew, and why did they not warn the innocent people of New York who were needlessly murdered? … What do they have to hide?

In an article for a Georgia newspaper, she added: 

It is known that President Bush’s father, through the Carlyle Group, had – at the time of the attacks – joint business interests with the bin Laden family’s construction company and many defense industry holdings, the stocks of which have soared since Sept 11.

McKinney also laid articles of impeachment against Bush (and Dick Cheney and Condoleezza Rice) charging the President with ‘high crimes against the United States of America’ by ‘actively manipulating the intelligence on Iraq’s alleged weapons programs’.

Dennis Kucinich

The pint-sized leftist from the Ohio tenth introduced his own articles of impeachment against the President citing a roster of bizarre charges. These included: ‘Creating a Secret Propaganda Campaign to Manufacture a False Case for War Against Iraq’; ‘Falsifying Accounts of US Troop Deaths and Injuries for Political Purposes’; ‘Initiating a War Against Iraq for Control of That Nation’s Natural Resources’; ‘Tampering with Free and Fair Elections, Corruption of the Administration of Justice’; ‘Conspiracy to Violate the Voting Rights Act of 1965’; and ‘Obstruction of the Investigation into the Attacks of September 11, 2001’.

Al Franken

The former Saturday Night Live comedian engaged in the following exchange during an October 2005 episode of the Late Show with David Letterman:

FRANKEN: I think, by the way, that we should never ever, ever, ever execute a sitting President.

LETTERMAN: It makes us look bad around the world, I think.

FRANKEN: It would. It would be heartbreaking, I think, and I think that we should have a constitutional amendment.

LETTERMAN: I see, yeah. Have we ever come close in the history to executing a seated President?

FRANKEN: No, this will be the closest.

LETTERMAN: This will be the closest, yeah.

FRANKEN: Unless we get that amendment passed now.

Joking about executing the President of the United States did nothing to harm Franken’s career – a few years later he was a Democrat Senator from Minnesota.

Michael Moore

The baseball-capped Bolshevik might not be ‘official Democratic Party’ but the official Democrat Party was happy to endorse his conspiracy theories about the Bush administration when it suited Democrat electoral needs. In its report on the Washington D.C. premiere of Fahrenheit 9/11, the New Republic noted:

Packing the Uptown Theater to the rafters, about 800 people — including South Dakota Senator Tom Daschle, Florida Senator Bob Graham, and Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe, to name just a few of the prominent Democrats in attendance — took in Moore’s two-plus hours of Bush-bashing, applauding throughout and giving Moore a standing ovation when it was over. Even Moore seemed a bit taken aback by the Democratic establishment’s effusive embrace.

McAuliffe shilled for the movie in interviews with reporters after the screening. He explicitly tied the film to John Kerry’s campaign for the White House:

I think anyone who sees this movie will come out en masse to make sure John Kerry is elected president this November.

Asked to comment on one of Moore’s theories – that Bush invaded Afghanistan to secure an oil pipeline for the Unocal corporation – McAuliffe responded: ‘I will check into a lot of the issues myself about the pipeline and others. But he raises a lot of very legitimate questions.’


The Democrats are right to challenge some of the vicious rhetoric directed at President Obama. And not just the birth certificate and religion conspiracy theories – though those are particularly obnoxious and stupid-crazy. The tone of American politics seems to be growing more embittered, more shrill. There is nothing wrong with partisanship – the Constitution is designed to disburse power by pitting faction against faction – but the rhetoric could do with a dial-down.

There are nuts on the Right. There are nuts on the Left. To pretend one side has a monopoly on unhinged pronouncements is to excuse derangement by feigning amnesia.

Feature image © DonkeyHotey by Creative Commons 2.0.  

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