Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Dr. Demento In The Oval Office

May 23, 2007

Re: Dr. Demento In The Oval Office

From: Dean Lawrence R. Velvel
VelvelOnNationalAffairs.com


Of late there seems to be talk about a subject mentioned here before and written about elsewhere too, sometimes by professionals in the field. The topic is that there may well be a head case in the White House.

Recently there seems to be some degree of coalescence on the idea that, for this man to admit to a mistake in Iraq, would be for him to threaten, perhaps destroy, his own sense of competency. For that reason, it is said, he is in a state of denial about events in Iraq. For the same reason, it is likewise said, he overlooks, puts aside, disregards information contrary to the claim of success in Iraq, and sees everything about Iraq through rose colored glasses.

I must admit that this theory strikes this layman as making sense. George W. Bush, apparently, always lived in the shadow of a successful, well liked father (albeit many of us think his old man wasn’t a great brain either). Living in this shadow, his own lack of diligence and intelligence caused him to be mediocre or a failure everywhere for about 25 years; he was mediocre at Andover; he was mediocre at Yale; he was a drunk to the point where he could cure himself only by stopping cold turkey, becoming a religious fundamentalist, and seeing the world, however wrongly, in Manichean black and white; he failed in business after business and escaped disasters only by dint of Daddy’s friends and wannabe friends; conceivably he escaped a securities prosecution only because Daddy was President. This guy also, it seems, is and was a bully.

The only thing going for this character was that he had the kind of affable, good old boy personality that the average American vastly prefers to smarts, a personality which, given his family name and the family’s access to political money, enabled him to succeed in politics. And to be candid, it is entirely possible that domestic politics is the one area where this guy may possibly be smart, or at least very crafty (if evilly crafty).

The bottom line is that this fellow would have every reason to fear, underneath it all, that he largely is not competent. For a guy with his long record of mediocrity or failure, for a guy who so long lived in the shadow of his father, for a guy who achieved success only when he capitalized on the family name in politics, where the worst can be first, it seems eminently possible (i) that the sense of competence is wafer thin (which in Bush’s case might be excessively thick), and (ii) that denial of facts, coupled with obstinacy in pursuit of a (failed) policy, is the only way to avoid the psychological destruction of having to recognize a horrible mistake resulting from repeated gross incompetence. It is, in short, reasonable sounding to say that, because of close-to-the-surface fear of incompetence, there is a fact-denying head case in the White House.

In the long run, as discussed here before, this is likely to be recognized by historians. It may take 25 or 50 years, but it is almost certain that one day this character will be exhibit number one for the danger of having a nut job in the oval office, and of simultaneously having a jello-kneed Congress which forsakes the founders’ deeply held belief that it should be Congress, not the President, that decides whether we should fight a foreign war in the first place rather than merely serving as a rubber stamp for the Executive, and that Congress should cut off funds for a war gone south.

But in the short run, what is to be done? Even though the body politic now seems overwhelmingly against the war, the Congress lacks the courage or brains even to cut off money for the war, and certainly lacks the courage or brains to impeach the nutbag at the top or his vice nutbag - - as a gentleman I know says about these lackings of the Congressional lackeys: “That’s who they are.” Nor, one notes, is it the children of these gutless wonders who are getting killed and maimed in Iraq, a fact which contributes mightily to Congressional cowardice and stupidity. We can, of course, depend upon Bush not to defenestrate himself and we can depend upon his sidekick Cheney not to penetrate either of them with birdshot. Meanwhile, more people get killed in Iraq every day, while the top cowardly lion who fled from service in Viet Nam pretends he is a brave Lincoln faced with the destruction of this country and refuses therefore to disengage from disaster while denying that disaster is occurring.

As for American morality, every day and every week it goes deeper into the shitter, to use a word popular in Northern New England.

This is all very bad. And, putting aside Congressional weakness, it ever increasingly looks like the disaster continues because we have a form of Dr. Demento in the White House: a man who cannot do the right thing because this would, psychologically destructively, force him to concede that he has done the wrong thing. Nor are the two top nut jobs or any cabinet members going to tell Congress (under the 25th Amendment) that these two birds are too sick in the head to be President. (In addition to Bush’s head problem, given Cheney’s views, would anyone be surprised if he were some kind of certifiable paranoid?) As said, the situation is very bad, very bad indeed, and it may not be too pessimistic, but only realistic, to say that conceivably there is nothing to do but wait it out. One hopes not, though.
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This posting represents the personal views of Lawrence R. Velvel. If you wish to comment on the post, on the general topic of the post, or on the comments of others, you can, if you wish, post your comment on my website, VelvelOnNationalAffairs.com. All comments, of course, represent the views of their writers, not the views of Lawrence R. Velvel or of the Massachusetts School of Law. If you wish your comment to remain private, you can email me at Velvel@mslaw.edu.

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