the phobia of my phobia is my philia!

At the risk of sounding like a bitter asshole, I want to make another stab at explaining my ongoing fascination with the synergistic relationship between McCain Derangement Syndrome (MDS) and Obamaphobia. (See "Real conservatives want their party to lose, but only to Hillary".) This is not to say that there's a 100% overlap; only that when they do overlap, sparks fly.

The Ann Coulter, Pat Buchanan group of McCain haters (along with the quieter Dobson types) hate McCain so much that they declared they'd either vote for Hillary or sit it out. I didn't like this, and I said so repeatedly.

However, it is important to remember that when the McCain haters made these pledges, they assumed that Hillary would be the candidate. Little wonder that they were more outraged -- and at a much higher volume -- than almost anyone once it began to appear that Barack Obama would be the nominee. They were willing to sit it out, and maybe even vote for Hillary, but who the hell was this pleasant-talking young leftist to come along and ruin their McCain boycott? It might have been OK to sit it out for Hillary, but Obama?

The man forces their hand. Obamaphobia literally forces the McCain-hating Obamaphobes to eat their words, swallow their pride, and face the prospect of voting for the guy they pledged to oppose.

I have to admit, part of me -- the vengeful part -- simply loves seeing activist blowhards get their come-uppance, and I see Obama as the punisher. The scourge of MDS. OTOH, another part of me wants simply to see the Republicans win, so I see Obama as the unifier. Either way, I find myself loving the unelectable Obama -- because if he is not stopped, he'll force the McCain haters to vote for McCain.

I admit, it is not nice of me to feel this way. Rather than loving Obama for squeezing the McCainophobes, perhaps I should be more compassionate. And perhaps it is not Obama I love. Perhaps I just love seeing the phenomenon of hatred canceling hatred. There is remarkable, almost mathematical beauty in the way Obamaphobia cancels out MDS, while at the same time it is fueled by it. (It's as if the hatred for McCain is being sublimated into hatred of Obama in a poorly understood psychological process.)

It's too simple to say that hatred of Obama is necessarily the antidote for MDS, though, for as long as Hillary lingers, there remains hope for MDS. Because MDS can coexist peacefully with Hillary but not with Obama, there's a fierce hope in certain quarters (probably grounded in denial) that if only Hillary can make it, we can go back to hating McCain and back to making solemn pledges we'll never ever vote for him. This may be fueled by the conviction that if enough energy is directed against Obama, he'll fall from grace, and it will be "safe" to oppose McCain again. The better Obama does, the more opposing McCain looks like political suicide. I'd even go so far as to speculate that there's a direct correlation between Obama's fortunes and anti-McCain activity: as Obama rises, anti-McCain energy wanes, but as Obama falls, anti-McCain energy waxes.

Of course, the more inevitable Obama appears to be, the more the bitter McCain haters cling to Hillary.

Hillary is the fly in the ointment, as she prevents the true synergy of hate from fully blossoming. Obama has not yet closed the deal and cinched the nomination.

If and when he does, all right wing hope of stopping McCain by sitting it out will be extinguished.

So, from the perspective of the McCain-hating Obamaphobes, Obama kills hope, and Hillary keeps hope alive.

Like I say, I'd like to have more compassion .

But where's the compassion for those who still suffer from Hillaryphobia?

(I know things are getting pretty bad when I can't tell phobias from philias.)

posted by Eric on 04.26.08 at 04:11 PM


You really seem to be in the mode of using terms like hate and hatred to describe how many may be feeling about McCain and Obama. Now I fit much of what you are describing but these words are not the appropriate ones.

As a matter of fact, based on what I have seen of these two men, I think I like them as persons. Politically I have a different perspective.

Obama is politically predictable and my prediction is that he is far left and that means a potential for many actions that I will not like, so he would never get my vote.

McCain is politically unpredictable and almost every day he does or says something that says something negative about where I stand politically or it may go so far as to imply that I am a bigot. I guess I have enough confidence that he will never go as far to the left as Obama or Clinton that I will probably hold my nose and vote for him. But hate or hatred is not a word I would choose here.

Bob Thompson   ·  April 26, 2008 5:21 PM

The Coulter cabal is a good thing to remember in this campaign. McCain is the least repulsive of three horrible candidates, but one positive thing about him as a candidate is that he may represent a credible means for the conservative side of this country to shake off the annoying hangers-on like Coulter, who spew nothing but insults and attacks, earning a living by pointing out how much liberals suck.

Anyone can sit around and complain about the other party. That Coulter and her ilk are able to earn a living by doing it shows that there is something horribly wrong in this country. Her work amounts to little more than books designed to reinforce existing beliefs among her audience. That contributes nothing to a movement based upon ideas. If we're right then our arguments and our evidence for our positions should suffice. Coulter appeals to a foolish lot who know what they believe but don't know why they believe it. Her popularity and her claim to being a conservative combine to make her often be regarded as a mainstream conservative. Associating her with conservatism is to defame a movement based upon ideas. She is hardly a mainstream conservative and she needs to be kicked to the curb.

I would love to see Coulter marginalized by a successful McCain Presidency that is characterized by continually governing from the right and distancing itself from the anti-intelligentsia of Coulter et al. In that regard, a McCain Presidency could be good for the conservative movement. The only question is - will he govern from the right? I share the lack of certainty expressed by Bob Thompson, above.

Joseph Sixpack   ·  April 26, 2008 7:00 PM

First and foremost, I think the founders got it very close to right in the Constitution. This goes a long way toward explaining my support for Fred Thompson when he was in the race. What we have in common is that we both think that there are founding political principles that should be followed in governing

I don't get a sense that McCain operates under any such commonly recognizable set of principles. I do think that once he speaks to an issue he will likely follow through because, above all, he has a strong sense of honor. So, there are the things I like:

Iraq, War on Terror, maintain tax cuts, modified position on immigration reform

and the things I don't like:

campaign finance, global warming, earlier positions on taxes and immigration, blaming Bush for Katrina aftermath without blaming the mayor of New Orleans and the governor of Louisiana.

I also don't like his position on the anti-Obama ad produced by the North Carolina GOP. He gets carried away sometimes with his sense of honor.

But, all in all, I think we can survive a McCain administration.

I agree with Joseph Sixpack on his analysis of the extremists who think their brand of conservatism is the only one that counts.

Maybe a bigger issue resides on the left. A significant percentage of Obama's support is coming from America's youth, say 18 to 30 years old. This is not research, but my on personal experiences with youth in this age group tells me that many do not have much of a sense of history and few have a good understanding of the principles on which this country was founded. I personally think this is very dangerous to the future direction of our country.

Here's my solution (this is a lark):

Reset the age of qualification for voting to 30 except for those who have served our nation. This would provide a real life experience basis for casting a vote.

Bob Thompson   ·  April 26, 2008 8:00 PM

Bob Thomson - even going back to 21 again would be fine with me. 21 was the number even when the life expectancy was 50.

I trace this in part to the successful smackdown of Bush's nomination of Harriet Miers. I thought that was a good use of conservative suasive force in the public discourse, but it may have given some folks - Limbaugh and Coulter in particular - a taste of the nasty joy of being an enforcer. There is no way that supporting a liberal because McCain isn't conservative enough makes any sense unless it is accompanied by the prediction that this strategy will work in the long run. They must believe that this conservative crackdown will pay dividends down the road, and lead to the election of more conservatives later.

That's a roll of the dice, and I resent people advocating that for the country I live in. They are betting that there won't be a major crisis that McCain would handle better than the other two. They are also betting that the strategy will work, and lead to a more conservative country. Marginalising themselves, and perhaps conservatives in general, may be the result instead.

Assistant Village Idiot   ·  April 26, 2008 10:46 PM

The youth have one big advantage over the old when it comes to the general election.

They don't show up to vote.

M. Simon   ·  April 27, 2008 3:02 AM

Let me also note: the Right (as opposed to wrong) right are forcing McCain to the left to get enough votes in the general to win without them.

Talk about double stupid.

The good thing about that is that by being disloyal they will lose their place at the table. You know the old "fuck 'em they didn't vote for us" deal.

M. Simon   ·  April 27, 2008 3:06 AM

I probably over-use the word hate. However, I don't like the way it has been demonized. The other day a cashier was being verbally abused by incredibly rude two young men, and when they were leaving she muttered "I hate them." Then she saw me, blushed, put her hand over her mouth, and said "I mean, I dislike them." She had been indoctrinated to believe that hating is evil.

I don't get it. If I can hate golf (which I do), if I can hate the winter (which I do) then why can't I hate rude people?

Not a new topic here:

Eric Scheie   ·  April 27, 2008 11:46 AM

It's not hate that is so bad, so much as hating people. It has its roots in our Judeo-Christian values that regard hating a person as wrong. Instead you're supposed to hate the sin. To hate God's children is an affront to God and therefore frowned upon. That is not necessarily the thought process that people use when reconsidering their use of the word hate, but that is the source of that value. It is surprising that it has somehow managed to survive to this day.

Joseph Sixpack   ·  April 27, 2008 3:57 PM

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