The Airing of Grievances
Saturday, November 13, 2004
Bush Like Me
Here's a great piece from the Rolling Stone's Matt Taibbi about his undercover work in the grass roots of the Republican Party. Taibbi's motivation, according to him:

Let me explain by first saying something about the critics of our president. A great many of them like to laugh at George Bush for not reading books and for being uninterested in visiting other countries. But a lot of those same people are guilty of the opposite offense. They prefer to read books and travel abroad rather than actually getting to know their own country face to face.

These critics do a terrific job of mocking his mental deficiencies and dismissing his supporters as hapless morons, but they do not do a very good job of explaining the nature of his support. The few dissident commentators who bother trying to explain the Bush phenomenon seldom do more than reach for the nearest Marx-inspired academic cliche. They will tell you, for instance, that Republicans are a vast intellectual underclass cynically manipulated by the rich through a mesmerizing cocktail of yahoo enthusiasms, xenophobic fears and ancient superstitions -- and those same people will insist, if forced to offer an opinion on the subject, that one should feel sorry for most of them.

This is the wrong approach. As a professional misanthrope, I believe that if you are going to hate a person, you ought to do it properly. You should go and live in his shoes for a while and see at the end of it how much you hate yourself.
So, Taibbi sets out to better understand and the result is "Bush Like Me" a insightful documentation of his time on the inside. The piece is chock full of wonderful anecdotes, and, from where I sit, really does try to give Bush supporters a fair shake. That being said, Taibbi certainly throws in a couple of jabs, but when you have Republicans driving around with bumper stickers like this -- IF I'D KNOWN THIS WOULD HAPPEN, I'D HAVE PICKED MY OWN COTTON -- well, you really can't blame him, can you? In any event, the very human piece is well worth the read. Do yourself a favor and give it a whirl.

(Thanks for the heads up, Kramer.)
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