Decisions of a disturbed mind
The disturbed individual part would really be none of my business was it not for the power of the office which the individual occupies. George W. Bush is a recovering alcoholic (although a September 21, 2005 report in the estimable National Enquirer and other unpublished observations would suggest that he has fallen off the wagon). Alcoholism is a disease which leads to some nasty interpersonal behavior – obsessive secrecy, inability to take responsibility for one’s actions, angry lashing out at others, and a keen ability to create a network of co-dependents. Regrettably, these symptoms do not evaporate when an individual undergoes a God-for-booze-swap as this president allegedly did.
I believe that alcoholism does not fully explain the disturbed nature of this individual. Another important factor is the more- pronounced-than-usual oedipal complex in the relationship between the father and the son. While the father was captain of the baseball team, the son was a cheerleader. While the father aced Yale in three years, the son did not. While the father succeeded in the oil business, the son flopped.
In the field of politics, however, there has been an interesting role reversal. Where the father raised taxes to stanch the flow of budget red ink, the son cut them. Where the father built an international coalition to oust Saddam from Kuwait – while leaving Saddam in power -- the son launched a unilateral preemptive war to capture Saddam. And while the father coasted downhill on his popularity following a war win – leading to a second term defeat -- the son was reelected to a second term.
But the role reversal has done nothing to minimize the son’s maternal fixation. Instead the Bush Bubble holds most reality at bay – staffed mostly by a loyal circle of women including his mother, his wife, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Undersecretary of State Karen Hughes, and White House Counsel Harriett Miers. Interestingly, Bush rarely talks with his father – viewing a recent New Yorker article by his father’s National Security Advisor, Brent Scowcroft, as his father’s latest disloyalty to the son.
Before launching into the litany of bad decisions emerging from the son’s disturbed condition, let me highlight one decision I agreed with – the invasion of Afghanistan after 9/11.
There are many I disagreed with though. To wit, he demonstrated a fatal incuriosity about the August 6, 2001 Presidential Daily Briefing “Bin Laden Determined to Strike Inside the US”. He spent that month on a ranch in Crawford communing with God to figure out how hard to clamp the brakes on stem cell research. He decided to let Bin Laden get away in the December 2001 Battle of Tora Bora.
He cut $1.6 trillion worth of taxes, 36.7% of which further enriched the top 1% of families in the US. He took a government with a $236 billion surplus and turned it into one with a $412 billion deficit while increasing its debt load by $3 trillion.
He manufactured a fake casus belli – Saddam’s imminent threat to use nuclear, chemical and biological weapons and his ties to Al Qaeda -- to justify launching a preemptive war in Iraq. He told the world that the US would be greeted as liberators in Iraq. Although the connection has not been made to him personally, someone ordered the torture at Abu Ghraib as well as all the other places where we piously proclaim “Liberty is America’s gift the world” while we “render” prisoners to countries where they can be water-boarded outside of earshot.
He rewarded those who were wrong and loyal and fired those who were right. He gave Presidential Medals of Honor to the architects of the Iraq disaster – General Tommy Franks, who oversaw combat in Afghanistan and the initial invasion of Iraq, former CIA Director George Tenet and former Iraq administrator L. Paul Bremer. And he fired the general who told him that it would take 300,000 troops to secure Iraq (the general was right) as well as the economic advisor who told him the war would cost $100 billion (it’s cost over $300 billion so far).
And he continues to refuse to take responsibility for any mistakes – instead lashing out at those around him – even as the broader US population slowly begins to realize the extent to which it has been deceived.