Ed Kilgore adds a much needed caution to this analysis:
Chait doesn't generalize his argument into a broader meditation on the nature of ideological thinking, but there is a bit of an analog on the Left, where elite opinion about Bill Clinton's fidelity to Democratic principle has long diverged from rank-and-file progressive appreciation for the Man from Hope, and has also merged with a strange revisionist argument that Clinton's alleged heresies from The True Path were responsible for every Democratic electoral setback since 1994.Kilgore says much more succinctly what I was getting at with my Bubba post last month - that thre is a drastic break between popular affection and respect for Clinton and elite hatred of him. And, no, hatred is not too strong of a word. Sen. Clinton is inheriting a large amount of left-over elite resentment at Pres. Clinton, which is itself bizarrely misplaced. The electoral setback of 1994 was, as Mark Schmitt pointed out, was part of the long-unfolding realignment of party composition, a shift that will probably be finalized in the next two national electoral rounds. It probably would have been worse without Elvis in the White House.
While Democrats can and should rightly enjoy and exploit the implosion within the GOP, what's sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander. A lot of progressives these days seem to think the rise of the conservative movement should serve as a template for Our Side, and if so, we should look at the self-deception going on in conservative circles with an occasional glance in the mirror.
The only point of agreement left between the polarized parties, it would seem, is hatred of this utterly American figure. This will be a mystery that the historians will have to puzzle out. Why should a man who rose from obscurity to power through diligent use of intellect and empathy be so reviled by those (at least on the left) who should respect that achievement, even if they don't agree with the policy? That the socio-economic elitists of the Republican party, so perfectly represented by the Bushes, should hate this poor white upstart makes sense. The other fanatical hatred does not, particularly with the passionately personal nature of the revulsion. And perhaps that is the key.
But back to Bush. He is the neocons golden boy. He has done everything they wanted him to do, and seems poised to complete the job with more asinine governmental appointments and a secodn glorious little war, this time against Iran. The neocons are right to try to distance themselves from a loser. However, they won't acknowledge it is precisely because he is enacting their policies that he is hated.
Look in the mirror, guys.