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The Flag of the World

-G. K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy

This here blog is a glimpse or two or three at the condition of the 'fortress of our family' through the eyes Timothy Goddard, a Christian writer with an unhealthy interest in politics living in the Puget Sound area.

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Saturday, September 27, 2003


The nature of haters
Orrin Judd posts an excerpt from a rather silly piece by a Reagan detractor complaining that recent biographies of Reagan, especially that by Lou Cannon have not given enough attention to... well, Reagan detractors. Actually, he doesn't appear to want merely detractors mentioned, but specifically those who viscerally loathed Reagan. In his words,
"Cannon tends to ignore in his work on Reagan--as others do as well, including Morris--that the man was also, for many millions of Americans, a consistent object of rage. That's an unbecoming flaw for a biographer. Dazzled by how much Reagan was loved, Cannon refuses the challenge of understanding how much he was simultaneously hated..."
The problem is, as I noted in my initial reaction, that people for whom Presidents are "a constant object of rage" tend to be very small--I'd guess 8-13%--segment of the population, and that goes for Bush, Clinton and Reagan-haters. So a biography can usually skip them over legitimately, and most do.

The problem is that it always seems--especially in the here-and-now--that there are more of these "haters" than there really are. This is because those people who earn their living (or, in some cases, spend way too much of their free time) talking about these sorts of things tend to be vastly overrepresented in the population of "haters." I would hypothesize that this is because talking about things (and especially writing about them) tends to solidify and exaggerate beliefs, opinions and ideology. The blogosphere is a good example of this, I'd say. In addition, those people who tend to do things like write newspaper columns or run blogs or write books on famous people, are people already with the disposition to form hard opinions and adopt visceral hatreds.

Now, as for why these "haters" despite their prevelance amongst "talkers," are irrelevant. The fact is that people who hate people in positions of power tend to have very little influence on the course of events. When they do, history recognizes them. When they do not, history ignores them. Little is made of the FDR-haters or the JFK-haters or the Wilson-haters, or the Reagan-haters. The Lincoln-haters get noted because one of their number killed him. The Clinton-haters get a footnote because they impeached him, just as the Johnson-haters did. The Nixon-haters are rarely mentioned, because his downfall was so much of his own doing. Some presidents, Bush I and Ford, for example, had no real haters because they were generally non-offensive (they also didn't get reelected, and might have benefited from a few more angry protesters). The Carter and Hoover-haters get some mention, because they actuall defeated their adversaries, as the Bush-haters will recieve should they succeed in their quest. But chances seem good that, as the Reagan-haters before them (and, considering many of them are the exact same people, this should surprise no one), the history books and biographies of the future will barely recount their deeds.

It's easy to do, even if your words are many, if your deeds are few.
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