Friday, April 26, 2013

The return of Bush-anxiety

Remember back when Kerry lost to Bush in the 2004 General Election? The next day, there were people--liberals and progressives--seemingly unable to go on, wracked with psychological pain over the results, or even brought to tears by the prospect of another four years of having George W. Bush in the White House. There was even a term for the psychological condition these things were supposedly symptoms of: “post-election selection trauma” or PEST. The term was coined by a Boca Raton psychologist, one Rob Gordon, and people "afflicted" with the condition were even given free counseling at Gordon's American Health Association offices in Boca Raton, Florida.

Here's the original story on the subject from the now-defunct Boca Raton News. Some snippets:
According to Gordon, the Boca-based AHA has formally defined the symptoms of PEST and will offer the free sessions through the end of the year. He said approximately 30 people had contacted AHA for psychological counseling since Kerry conceded the presidential race to President Bush on Nov. 3.

Gordon said symptoms of the trauma are similar to post-traumatic stress disorder and include loss of appetite, sleeplessness, nightmares and pervasive moodiness.

The AHA’s actions come after the Boca Raton News reported Tuesday that Palm Beach County psychotherapist Douglas Schooler has already treated 15 Kerry supporters using intense hypnotherapy. Schooler, contacted Wednesday, said four more people had already set up appointments for the onetime therapy session since the article was picked up internationally and cited on Rush Limbaugh’s radio show.
The article also cited Gordon's claims that some resignations from top-level people in the Administration--like Condoleezza Rice (the Boca Raton News spells her name incorrectly, by the way)--would help alleviate the symptoms of PEST. Seriously. Gordon says that, then laments the mockery being directed at him and his patients over this pseudo-psychological silliness.

But what does that have to do with the price of tea today? Simple, these same anxieties are once again evidencing themselves in the media, following the dedication of the George W. Bush Presidential Library yesterday. For instance, Eugene Robinson insists in an editorial that Bush's legacy looks even worse now than it did when he left office. Rachel Maddow imagines people have forgotten what actually transpired during the Bush years. And Jonathan Chait uses the moment to call Bush stupid.

There's serious angst in Mudville, the liberal media, over the issue of Bush's legacy because they fear reality impinging on their years and years of hard work to spin a narrative about what the current President has faced and has done, with respect to the previous one. As Charles Krauthammer deftly points out, many of the things Bush was supposedly "guilty" of initiating have basically been continued by President Obama:
...Barack Obama, who vilified Bush’s anti-terror policies as a candidate, then continued them as president: indefinite detention, rendition, warrantless wiretaps, special forces and drone warfare, and, most notoriously, Guantanamo, which Obama so ostentatiously denounced — until he found it indispensable.
Worse still, the economy has never fully recovered from the financial crisis; Obama's solutions never yielded their promised results, especially with regard to things like unemployment.

This is not to say one must stand up and applaud the Bush years; there remain legitimate points of contention therein, fair criticisms on both domestic and international issues, to be sure. But the imagined horror of the eight years under Bush is just that: imagined. Those who deal in the propagation of this faux reality--like Robinson, Maddow, Chait, and others--fear an honest assessment of the years under Bush because such a thing would deprive them of a narrative to use in defense of the past five years in general and the current President in particular.

And no one is going to mess with their sacred cows. Period.

Cheers, all.

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