In 2003 conservative columnist and psychiatrist Charles Krauthammer defined Bush Derangement Syndrome as “the acute onset of paranoia in otherwise normal people in reaction to the policies, the presidency — nay — the very existence of George W. Bush“.
While this is a clever rhetorical definition, it is also interesting for two reasons. First, it does serve to define an actual condition. While I am no fan of Bush, even I could recognize that some folks would simply fall for or create the most illogical ad hominems regarding Bush and that they would do so solely on the basis of their dislike for the man. In some cases, this seemed to go beyond mere bad reasoning and into a form of derangement. Such derangement is hardly surprising. After all, most folks do not reason when it comes to politics. Instead, they feel and often these feelings are out of proportion to their cause.
Second, it provided conservative folks with a clever way to dismiss criticism of Bush by categorizing it as derangement. In short, it provided a ready made ad homimen (“oh, don’t listen to what he says about enhance interrogation, he has BDS”).
Even before Obama became president, I saw that in addition to motivating people in a positive way, he also had the power to rile up conservatives in a way that seemed to approach derangement. Once he was president, the pitch of this derangement increased, reaching one high point when some conservative folks were filmed applauding Chicago not getting the Olympics because, as some might claim, they hate Obama more than they love America. Of course, that is but one example among many.
Interestingly enough, Obama Derangement Syndrome is just like BDS, except it involves Obama rather than Bush. The symptoms and behavior are basically the same. In some cases, folks really do seem to suffer from ODS just as some folks suffered from BDS. In other cases, people use ODS as an ad homimen attack on folks who are critical of Obama.
While being passionate about politics is fine, allowing your emotions to derange your assessment of reality is not. People should be critical of the president-we do, after all, need our gadflies. However, unreasoning dislike does not provide anything useful to our country, although it can be tapped by pundits for profits and politicians for power. This applies to Obama, it applied to Bush and it will apply to future presidents as well.