It is hard to imagine a more idiotic or self-defeating political crusade than the one mounted in recent days by Democrats who want to keel haul President Bush for the act of riding a jet onto the deck of an aircraft carrier.

Robert Byrd (search), Henry Waxman, John Conyers and the others ought to give it a rest: They're making their party look like a bunch of hysterics. But then again, it largely is: One looks in vain for a principled reason for the warfare on judicial nominees -- because there is none -- or an edifying explanation for the tremors of rage that convulse party elders whenever they hear the president's name.

We have entered a phase of our political history in which parties out of power tend to embrace rage more readily than opposition. We saw it in the Clinton years, when Clinton haters fumed every time the president's poll numbers rose. Hatred wasn't much of an organizing principle for Republicans back then and it's not doing Democrats any good now. That's because hatred begins and ends its work by devouring the souls of its devotees.

Consider the contrast: We've got a president who has set his sights on global freedom, prosperity and democracy and an opposition party that just sputters and fumes and jeers about presidential syntax.

Like other conquered foes before, they have made a classic mistake: They've “misunderestimated” George W. Bush and his “strategery.”