Back in the darkest days of the Bush administration a meme arose on the right that liberals held an irrational hatred for W called Bush Derangement Syndrome. It was based on real anger, some of it irrational, some of it deserved, so let’s unpack it for a second. Newsflash: I don’t think Bush was intentionally rotten or a psychopath. In fact only a handful of my progressive peers did think that, and we pushed backed on them with reason and common sense until they mostly gave it up. We can insert an artificial line between the rational and irrational in lots of gray cases, but in this case it’s not hard to find it in black and white. On the rational side, George Bush came into power in 2000 in the most controversial Presidential election in history and proceeded to get a lot of innocent people killed through a combination of bad luck and lousy judgement. Those are facts.
And yes, it was razor close in Florida in 2000, as close as it gets, so close that either candidate could have won (Had Gore won the right would have been at least as angry as the left was). Not long afterward the horror of 9-11 burned its awful image into the national conscious and the neocons pulled the big bait and switch of Iraq. GOP strategists hyped intel mercilessly, and in the following midterms and then the 2004 election, the usual suspects used terrorism as a political club to bludgeon democrats into submission and defeat.
Controversial election, fearmongering over 9-11, Iraq and then Katrina, thousands and thousands of dead and maimed Americans; there’s plenty there to be angry about. Stop and think for a second just how much of the Bush admin’s failure was due directly to Iraq, imagine how different things might have been if Bush had had the wisdom or just the blind luck to choose Powell’s advice over Cheney and company regarding Iraq. Some anger on the opposition to the horror and tragedy, much of it completely avoidable, is not only justified and rational, it would be bizarre if it didn’t crop up. But everyone on the left was accused of having Bush Derangement Syndrome or BDS, not just the fringe. And we were labeled as suffering from a syndrome; meaning our concern over factual events that ruined or ended the lives of so many was, somehow, misplaced or delusional.
But a handful of conspiracy theoristes on the left (And on the right for that matter) went much further. There were stories that Bush et al planned the 9-11 attacks, that they planned to screw up in Iraq, that they knew how bad Katrina was going to be and purposely dragged their feet afterward. Truthers, as we called them, insisted that not only were the 9-11 attacks staged, but the entire 2004 election was stolen by a vast voting machine conspiracy. Conservatives were able to use the Truthers as justification for painting everyone who didn’t cheer the emperor’s Baghdad clothes as victim of BDS. But that’s all it was, justifiable anger among progressives with some powerless conspiracy nuts sprinkled in.
Truthers never gained any power in the democratic party or the progressive movement. At Daily Kos they grew so tedious we ended up having to invite some of the most vocal and irrational ones to leave the site for good. Contrast that with the ongoing meltdown on the right over Barack Obama. The entire teaparty surge was built on irrational hatred of Barack Obama.
Being unhappy about losing an election is normal, it is to be expected. But what exactly does the right believe Obama did, beyond winning, that compares with Iraq? The conspiracies are as endless as they are substance-less and bloodless. The President was secretly born in Kenya — or fathered by Louis Farrakhan — and a vast cold war alliance of commies and Islamists and democrats conspired to conceal his roots and place him on the throne of democracy to destroy America (We were successful on every detail no matter how small — except choosing a proper red, white, and blue name?). Obama is taking away your guns, even though he has devoted zero energy to gun issues. Obama is in league with terrorists, even though he ordered the raid that took out bin Laden. Some of it is really off the deep end of an already very, very deep pool: Obama is secretly gay, which for the right is about as bad an insult as can be leveled. And of course none of these baseless paranoid claims resulted in unnecessary wholesale death or a trillion dollars pissed away in the Middle East on a mistake.
Which brings us to Benghazi. Rightwing conspiracy theoristes would have us believe the WH purposely concealed an act of terrorism out of fear it would hurt democrats in the election. Obama could have easily used Benghazi to smear Romney and scare up more votes alright — you betchya! — by getting up on stage as the man who ordered bin Laden killed and fear-mongering the shit out of 9-11 and Romney’s complete lack of military and foreign policy experience.
Benghazi is nothing more than the latest incarnation of a very real and potentially fatal condition on the right, full-blown delusional Obama Derangement Syndrome. OBS isn’t a fringe thing policed by more sober members of the opposition like it was on the left, it isn’t based on electoral controversy or a deeply unpopular war based on false intel or thousands of dead citizens. It is the thin, fabricated veneer for hatred that bad losers and racists can openly wear that has come to define virtually the entire GOP base and many Republican leaders.
It remains to be seen what happens in Obama’s second term. But his reelection may have already driven large swaths of the conservative base clinically insane when it comes to their grip on political and historical reality. It’s probably going to get much worse becuase we are going to crush the Teaparty on the fiscal cliff. They can either get a shitty deal now or we can wait for the tax cuts to expire and pass whatever we want — I couldn’t care less which one they choose. But the result, when that reality boils over into their conscioness, could be the last straw, causing an all out Cold Civil War in the United States of America. With guns and bombs.
The last time this civil war flared up an anti-US separatist nutcase, a Teapartier by any other name motivated by conspiracies eerily familiar to those now making the wingnuts rounds, blew up a building in Oklahoma City and killed 168 innocent people including 19 preschool age kids. This is hard evidence that any remaining sane Republicans and responsible rightwing pundits that fail to denounce OBS, along with those who flirt with crazy teabagger delusions, are playing with fire. Mark my words, when the terrorist attacks on innocent Americans and/or assassination attempts inevitably follow in the years to come, it will be on their heads.