Thursday, February 08, 2007

Trying to Parse the Inscrutable Bush

New York Magazine put George Bush on the couch in a recent cover story, asking a number of celebrities and other notables for their thoughts on what makes our Village Idiot president tick. Here's a sampling of their reactions, but I'd also recommend you read the entire piece.

Andrew Solomon, author of a harrowing memoir on his own bout with depression, says Bush is "narcissistically unable to grasp that he is not the world." NYU psychology prof Susan Anderson thinks he shows signs of having an authoritarian personality. The New Republic's Frank Foer jokes that "if you put Bush on the couch, I'm afraid he'd still take a nap." Former JFK speechwriter Ted Soronsen offers only pity: "I feel sorry for him. I think he must know that he's going to go down in history as the most incompetent president since Buchanan." (editor's note: he was Lincoln's immediate predecessor, and a towering icon of presidential incompetence).

Perhaps the most vivid indictment is served up by the creepy New Age guru Deepak Chopra: "One of the most unnerving things about George Bush is his smile. As the situation in Iraq has grown more calamitous, the smile hasn’t disappeared. It’s become markedly patronizing, saying, 'I’m right on this. The rest of you just don’t understand.' A pitying smile...Have we seen a more inappropriate smile from any politician since Nixon? I doubt it."

If the title of this article sounds vaguely familiar, it may be that you've heard about a book (published in 2004) with that same title, written by a Washington-based psychoanalyst, Dr. Justin Frank. From everything I've read and heard about it, it sounds like a powerfully written indictment of his upbringing, and the effect it's had on his disastrous presidency. No wonder Barbara and George, Sr. have been so touchy about criticism of their boy.


At 2:44 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think Bush will remain an enigma for some time to come. In the wake of his presidency, one thing worth studying would be how much of a modern Presidency is a function of the individual and how much of it is a function of "advisors," polls, party inertia, special interests, lobbyists and whatever else. I used to think that with Bush, it was the latter list of forces that ruled his day (and certainly Cheney). Not so sure anymore. I think Bush goes more by his gut. Since he isn't very much a student of anything, from most accounts, his gut sense is no more helpful than the "I'm feeling lucky" sensation that often overcomes the novice Las Vegas gambler. And most of them come home with empty wallets. In Bush's case, he seems to still be betting the ranch on some sort of miracle outcome in Iraq. One wonders if voters, on the next Presidential election, will put more stock into experience, education, world view, inquisitiveness and an understanding of the increasing interconnectedness in the world, and the implications and ripple effect a roll of the dice can produce when thrown willy nilly into uncharted waters.

At 6:09 PM, Blogger John Ettorre said...

Extremely well said. I couldn't agree more.


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