Drew Westen’s The Political Brain is largely a how-to manual for inspiring political emotions. But to be honest, the main emotion is inspired in me was disgust. Here’s the passage to which I had the strongest reaction:

[T]he Kerry campaign simply let the flip-flopper charge fester for months. By April, Kerry was reportedly infuriated by it, and he wanted to strike back by showing how much Bush flip-flopped on the issues. This wouldn’t have been hard to do. It can be done against anyone with a public record, and particularly against any candidate who has run toward his party’s base in the primaries and then toward the center in the general election, as Bush (and most presidential candidates on both sides of the aisle) had done. (emphasis mine)

My reaction: All true, all insightful, and completely disgusting. Once you realize that…

1. Politicians predictably lie to get elected (and unless winning primaries somehow “causes moderation,” lying is precisely what Westen is describing).

2. Politicians habitually accuse each other of something they virtually all do.

3. Voters largely ignore #1, but respond positively to #2.

… how can your reaction be anything other than “Yuck!”? Or if you want to be more eloquent, you can vehemently quote Mencken: “Democracy, too, is a religion. It is the worship of jackals by jackasses.”

Just to be clear, I commend Westen for his candor about the political process. What’s hard for me to understand on an emotional level is how Westen – or anyone – can recognize the above and remain an enthusiastic partisan.