The American people: Just not that into George Bush

James Taranto ridicules Matthew Dowd and Andrew Sullivan with dumb gay jokes, but it won't revive the president's approval ratings.

Published April 2, 2007 9:21PM (EDT)

In my Kathy Sierra piece I noted that sexist nastiness toward women on the Web has an echo in the way men are ridiculed as gay by online enemies, and gay men get attacked as sissies, and worse. Online Journal's James Taranto makes my point today with a post about Bush pollster Matthew Dowd's remarkable about-face on the president he helped sell to the American public, in the New York Times this weekend. Dowd laments that Bush abandoned the bipartisan, compassionate-conservative approach to politics that he practiced as Texas governor. He's particularly disillusioned by the Iraq war, and, more broadly, the administration's sharp swing to the far right.

"It's almost like you fall in love," he said about his admiration for then-Gov. Bush. "I was frustrated about Washington, the inability for people to get stuff done and bridge divides. And this guy's personality -- he cared about education and taking a different stand on immigration." But then he realized he was in denial. "When you fall in love like that," he said, "and then you notice some things that don't exactly go the way you thought, what do you do? Like in a relationship, you say 'No no, no, it'll be different.'"

Leave it to Taranto to observe that Andrew Sullivan (who is gay) wrote he could relate to Dowd's feeling that his ending with Bush was like the end of a "love affair": Sullivan described a similar reaction to Bush's support for the Federal Marriage Amendment. That got a big guffaw from Taranto:

"Something tells us if we were to ask President Bush to reflect upon his love affairs with Matthew Dowd and Andrew Sullivan, he would look at us as if we'd lost our mind. Sorry, guys, he's just not that into you!

"Are we wrong to think that there is something deeply weird about grown men who have trouble distinguishing between politics and affairs of the heart?"

Matthew Dowd's change of heart is bad news for President Bush. So leave it to right-wing attack dogs like Taranto to try to distract his audience from Dowd's message with schoolyard taunts about how the manly Bush would react to Dowd's hurt feelings. Sorry, James, the American people are just not that into you or your president anymore, and all the gay jokes in the world won't turn the clock back.

By Joan Walsh

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