A friend of mine rang me up to encourage me to read some book by former President Jimmy Carter, apparently not realizing that I consider Carter a bad president and bad ex-president of the highest order. I also find his personal qualities rather dubious given his personal embrace of some of the worst mass murdering thugs on the planet (e.g., Kim Jong Il, Yassir Arafat).
In any event, the conversation went down hill from there into a discussion on the imminent fascist dictatorship of President Bush. The argument ended with the contention that if I didn’t think Bush was crushing democracy in the USA, then I must think he should be canonized. Any middle ground was simply inconceivable.
I have encountered this reaction before, on various lefty weblogs suffering from Bush Derangement Syndrome, but this was my first personal experience. Thinking back on it, I realize that the “monster or saint” technique is a clear indication that the person offering it is completely out of arguments and has no recourse except to go for broke. I think from now on, when I encounter this, I will explicitly make that claim and see if I can get any heads to explode. If nothing else, I will be able to define it as a moral victory for myself and if I feel that way, what other evidence would I need?