Update: Exactly on point is this Kerry Spot piece by Jim Geraghty:
Last night, I heard secondhand that a left-of-center friend said, during a discussion about the tape, “Well, now I actually agree with bin Laden, I mean, the stuff he said about Bush.”
It was probably meant as a joke, or as a statement of irony. I wasn’t there, so I don’t want to draw conclusions about the statement’s meaning, and apparently the topic of conversation shifted so that no one could really analyze what that speaker meant.
But I have little doubt that in some other corners of our country, a statement like that was probably said and wasn’t a joke, or wasn’t ironic.
There was an old saying about politics stopping at the water’s edge. There was a reason for this, and for the concept of the “loyal opposition.” Suppose the U.S. and another country were in a trade dispute. The other country would want different policies, and thus would want the incumbent party out of power. So they would seize on any criticism from the challenging party, and use it for rhetorical purposes to strengthen their case both with their own population and in other countries. “Even the American challenging party says the incumbent leader’s policies are unfair and a failure.” No party wants to be seen as putting foreign interests ahead of their own citizens’ interests, so they have to be on guard that their arguments aren’t providing fodder for foreign powers with different interests than America.
Over the last three years or so, we have seen that concept obliterated. We’ve seen a truly unparalleled deluge of criticism of the president that well beyond policy differences. He is tarred as a war criminal, a fool, an idiot, a warmonger, a man who trades blood for oil, a mass murderer of innocent civilians, a stooge of sinister corporate interests, a puppet of Cheney, a terrorist himself, the anti-Christ, the second coming of Hitler, a slave to Ariel Sharon, an anti-Muslim hatemonger… and I’m sure I’ve left out plenty.
This rhetoric has been picked up by the British left, the European left, the Arab press, and anti-American interests around the globe. And — to my knowledge — not one Democrat, not one voice on the left has said, “Hey, we know you hate Bush, but stay out of it. He’s our president, leave the criticism of him to us.”