Partisans, liars, and Chaiters

Congratulations to Trunk for coining the word “Chaitred” to refer to the hating of President Bush by liberal partisans like Jonathan Chait. Our Jewish readers will know how to pronounce this word — think of the holiday Chanukah.
In my posts on Chaitred, I argued that it is not irrational for liberal partisans to hate President Bush. I also predicted that our future presidents will likely be hated by partisans of the opposite side, and that I might well come to hate a President Dean, for example.
I wish to add, however, that while hating a president may not be irrational, much less a sign of mental illness, this does not preclude such a diagnosis when the hatred leads to certain kinds of extreme statements. For example, it wasn’t irrational for conservatives to have hated President Clinton. But it would have been irrational for them to have believed that Clinton is a cannibal, and a sure sign of mental illness to have publicly said that he was.
Ted Kennedy hasn’t accused President Bush of cannibalism. But he has said “There was no imminent threat. This was made up in Texas, announced in January to the Republican leadership that war was going to take place and was going to be good politically. This whole thing was a fraud.” Yesterday, Charles Krauthammer made a good case that no rational person could believe all of Kennedy’s statements (just as others have made the case that Chait could not rationally have believed all of his statements about Bush in the article that started all of this). However, Krauthammer did not show that Kennedy himself believes the statements. So there are at least two possibilities here. The first is that, blinded by hatred, Kennedy has become unhinged from reality. The second is that he is in touch with reality, but chooses to distort it in his public pronouncements for political gain or mere gratification. In short, Kennedy may not be irrational; he may just be a liar.

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