The conservative pundit Charles Krauthammer, a psychiatrist by training, first diagnosed “Bush Derangement Syndrome” in 2003. It was a clever neologism, describing the disgust and rage Bush incited in people on the Left, who bristled at his cowboy mannerisms, his mangled syntax, and his religiously inflected moral certainty. BDS, however, was not the first episode of this kind of mania. It was preceded by Clinton Derangement Syndrome, which inspired a litany of wild conspiracy theories (multiple murders!) and culminated in Bill Clinton’s impeachment. Now it’s Obama Derangement Syndrome that grips about a third of the population. Sufferers see the 44th president as a “Kenyan, anti-colonial” socialist dictator who sympathizes with Islamic extremists.
Why does every president now summon such unhinged hatred? As Kevin Glass at Townhall pointed out last week, it’s not just a matter of policy differences: Presidents have become totems in America’s raging culture war. With his tax cuts, Christian references, and strutting American exceptionalism, Bush embodied the red state values that urban progressives loathe. For red state conservatives, Obama personifies a horrifying new era of multi-culti, redistributionist Big Government.