In today's Washington Post, sometime Reason contributor (and Northwestern sociologist) Gary Alan Fine tries to explain why some people hate–hate–George W. Bush. Says the author of Difficult Reputations: Collective Memories of the Evil, Inept, and Controversial:
Emotional juice bubbles from the springs of the past. This loathing derives from Bush's seeming life of ease. If Bill Clinton was a Zelig, present at every influential moment, George W. Bush is Forrest Gump. He has led a charmed life, in which mediocrity, error and failure have had no consequences other than to produce success. An indifferent student, Bush attended both Yale and Harvard, escaped service in Vietnam, escaped disgrace despite drunken driving, failed as an oil magnate only to be promoted to head the Texas Rangers baseball team and, lacking political experience, became governor of Texas. His family and mentors paved the way for this untalented scion of privilege. Bush was the frat boy who never grew up.
As with Nixon and Clinton, Fine argues the intense reaction has little or nothing to do with actual policy but the past of the despised figure (Nixon's anticommunism, Clinton's "radical, hippie" days). I'm not sure I buy the whole thing, but that basic idea squares with most of the Bush and Clinton haters I know firsthand. They reference the guys' pasts as much as anything they've done in office.
Whole thing here.