"Animosity towards Bush is based almost exclusively on the policies he has implemented as President. Berkowitz all but acknowledges this, as the social events that have so upset him primarily involved his defense of Bush policies and strong reactions from critics -- little things like starting a war based on false pretenses, introducing torture to our country, spying on Americans in violation of our laws, etc."

You think? As readers will remember, I have always found it very hard to actually hate George W. Bush. He maddens me, his policies have shaken my political allegiances and identity to the core, but I've always found him pretty congenial as a person from a distance. I'm glad I've never met him because I'd probably be totally suckered. Even on some of the deepest betrayals - spending and torture - I think his main crime has been criminal negligence and shallowness, not evil. But I do despise what he has done to this country, the wreckage in Iraq, and the dishonor of the torture/interrogation policies. I despise what he has done to conservatism, and the economic and environmental debt he will pass to the next generation. But I really, honestly don't hate him personally. Certainly not in the same league as my visceral dislike for the Clintons.

These are odd conflicting emotions, I concede. They're not entirely rational, but they're real. They affect politics and political thought because no one in those fields is an automaton. I can happily defend Clinton's record, but not his deceptive, calculating character. I cannot defend Bush's record, and I cannot really defend the callow character that lies behind it. But I don't think hatred of Bush is what I feel. It's more pity, sorrow and outrage at what he's done.

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