There is an extensive body of writing from both sides of the political aisle that has analyzed the extraordinary depths of hatred leveled at former President George W. Bush.
His birth into a wealthy and politically connected family is where a lot of the animus starts. His rejection of his Connecticut roots and adoption of a rugged Texan persona naturally riled his birth-constituency. His disjointed speaking style also alienated many others - especially those who covered him in the Northeastern media. Naturally, some of his initiatives were controversial. His allies say he didn’t do enough.
But all presidents make mistakes, pursue unpopular ideas, possess off-putting personality traits and don’t do enough to appeal to their core supporters. Something far more insidious was at work in the hatred of our most recent former president.
Now that Mr. Bush is quietly going about his retirement, this strain of rage - the GWB43 virus - has spread like wildfire, finding unsuspecting targets, each granting us greater perspective into what not long ago seemed like a mysterious phenomenon isolated only on our 43rd president.
The first person to catch the virus was Sarah Palin, whose family also was infected, including, unforgivably, her children.
Then it was Joe the Plumber, for asking a question.
Next were the Mormons.
Then it was Rush Limbaugh - who hit back.
Next, tax-day “tea party” attendees were “tea bagged.”
Then there was a beauty contestant.
And a Cambridge cop, too.
And now we have town-hall “mobs.”
Smile … you’ve been “community organized.”
When put on the media stage, these individuals and groups have been isolated for destruction for standing in the way of a resurgent modern progressive movement and for challenging its charismatic once-in-a-lifetime standard-bearer, Barack Obama.
This is their time, we’ve been told. And no one is going to stand in the way.
The origins of manufactured “politics of personal destruction” is Saul Alinsky, the mentor of a young Hillary Rodham, who wrote her 92-page Wellesley College senior thesis on the late Chicago-based “progressive” street agitator titled, “There Is Only the Fight.”
Mr. Obama and his Fighting Illini, Rahm Emanuel and David Axelrod, have perfected Mr. Alinsky’s techniques as laid out in his guidebook to political warfare, “Rules for Radicals.” In plain language, we see how normal, decent and even private citizens become nationally vilified symbols overnight - all in the pursuit of progressive political victory.
“Rule 12: Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it and polarize it. Cut off the support network and isolate the target from sympathy. Go after people and not institutions; people hurt faster than institutions. (This is cruel, but very effective. Direct, personalized criticism and ridicule works.)”
With the complicity of the mainstream media and abetted by George Soros’ money and netroots nation, Mr. Bush never stood a chance.
But the more the virus spreads, the more we study it and, perhaps, find the cure. The repetitive use of the same technique against anyone who would dare stand up and oppose the progressive movement and especially its leader has exposed the game and rendered its tactics less effective.
In fact, one could make the argument that the Republican Party, usually slow on the uptake, has finally figured it out. There are no major Republican targets out there opposing Mr. Obama and his aggressive agenda. The conservative movement appears leaderless, but perhaps for the best.
Maybe that is the strategy: Standing back and letting the Obama machine flail in its pursuit of its next victim.
A grass-roots movement of average Americans has stood up, making it extremely difficult to isolate and demonize an individual.
Mr. Alinsky noted in “Rule 12” that it is difficult to go after “institutions.” And attacking “tea baggers” and “mobs” has only created more resistance and drawn attention to the left’s limited playbook. Even Americans expressing their constitutionally protected right to free speech are open game.
Now that many people are Googling the Alinsky rule book and catching up with the way Chicago thugs play their political games, Mr. Obama and the Fighting Illini are going to be forced to create new rules - or double down on the old ones.
Worse yet, as his approval ratings descend rapidly - Rasmussen has him at 47 percent, the lowest of his presidency - angry citizens may be turning the tables on him, using Mr. Alinsky against him.
They won’t have to “freeze” and “personalize” him either. He’s got 3 1/2 years left with the klieg lights focused on him. And if Mr. Obama can’t get the economy rolling and continues to demonize everyday folks for his failures, he will be further isolated from sympathy and even ridiculed.
Yes, it’s cruel - and effective.
Ask Mr. Bush, the magnanimous guy who gave the new president a heartfelt hug the day he took office. He knows.
Boy, I wish I could see his famous smirk right about now. I always loved how much they hated that.
• Andrew Breitbart is publisher of the news portals Breitbart.com and Breitbart.tv. His latest endeavor, Big Hollywood (https://bighollywood.breitbart.com), is a group blog on Hollywood and politics from the center-right perspective.