"I'd like nothing more than for American politics to revolve entirely around policy and for everybody to ignore personality. I'd happily vote for an obnoxious, philandering, dog-kicking tax cheat who carried out effective policies at home and abroad. Why, then, if the real basis for my opposition to Bush is his performance in office, would I even bother to mention my personal disdain for him? It's a reaction to his success at passing himself off as a moral paragon, and even as a great leader in the mold of Winston Churchill and Abraham Lincoln. Indeed, the intense personal animosity many harbor against Bush didn't really blossom until the last couple of years, in response to the absurd cult of personality that grew up around him in the wake of September 11."
I echoed this sentiment in my election post-mortum, and I do say again here. Policies are more important than subjective (and frankly biased) notions of "character." It may be natural to a Democracy to look toward the latter, but that doesn't make it valuable or right.
Chait also attacks the "thoughtful observers [who] tend to see any given problem as equally the fault of Democrats and Republicans, and...wish both sides could get along better." The point Chait is trying to make isn't that it's bad to observe thoughtfully. Rather, its that trying to pidgeonhole problems so that they fall equally on the shoulders of both parties is facile, stupid, and factually wrong. To me, objectivity in analysis means that one doesn't slavishly defend a single party or viewpoint, but neither does one go out of ones way to show off non-partisan credentials by attacking both sides. In one of my early blog posts, I quoted Chait and others in explaining how the latter flaw is systematic in the media today and undermines any reasonable claim that there is a "liberal media bias." The point isn't that non-partisanship is bad, it's that sometimes the facts fall decisively on one side of the partisan divide. People who try to say otherwise destroy their own credibility and cheapen the political discourse.