Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Bush In The Corner

And no, I don’t mean wearing a dunce hat. Dr. Justin Frank, the psychiatrist who wrote "Bush On the Couch," speculates about how President Bush would react to being cornered by Congress and other hypotheticals.

It’s interesting stuff, although since Dr. Frank has not actually interviewed the president, you have to take it all with a grain of salt. But Frank’s psychological profile of the president echoes what I’ve long believed about the President’s psychological make-up. It’s long been clear to me that President Bush is a classic narcissist. He’s a pathological liar, lacking conscience and contemptuous of others, with a deep-seated fear of humiliation and an overriding need to prove himself to his mother. To take it a step further, I’d say those last remaining 27 percenters who have drunk the Kool-Aid and continue to defend Bush have a lot of the same psychological issues, especially the fear of humiliation part. To which I say: too late, folks. That ship sailed somewhere around 2003.

Anyway, I know everyone has their problems. But Bush’s problems are bad for America because, as Frank explains:
[We have] a regressed president who needs to protect himself more than ever from diminishment, humiliation, and collapse. He is so busy trying to manage his own anxiety that he has little capacity left to attend to national and world problems.

And so, we are left with a president who cannot actually govern, because he is incapable of reasoned thought in coping with events outside his control, like those in the Middle East.

Again, this stuff is like horoscopes to me: amusing, maybe even entertaining, but ultimately worthless. Still, let’s play this movie a little longer. Frank has given a few scenarios that challenge President Bush, and posited his reaction.

1- A devastating attack on the Green Zone or U.S. forces in Iraq. Frank predicts Bush would order an “immediate retaliatory series of air strikes, and let the bombs and missiles fall where they may. The reaction would come from deep within and would warn, in effect: This is what you get if you try to make me look bad.”

That sounds about right. It’s the complete opposite of Ronald Reagan, who immediately withdrew U.S. troops from Lebanon after the 1983 attack which killed nearly 250 Marines and 58 French paratroopers. The French launched retaliatory air strikes; the Americans went home (something the wingnuts always forget when they call Democrats “cut and run.”)

2- Scenario two involves an Israeli attack on Iran. Frank writes:

Psychologically, Bush would almost certainly need to join the attack, mainly to sustain his illusion of safety and masculinity. And Cheney, knowing that, would be pushing him hard on U.S. energy and other perceived strategic interests.

This also sounds about right.

3- Scenario three gets more interesting. How would President Bush react if Congress were to cut war funding this fall? I always like to see Bush stamp his little foot and suck his thumb when he doesn’t get his way in Congress. Frank says this is the most dangerous scenario of all, causing Bush to search for some excuse to attack Iran:

With Cheney egging him on from the wings of the “unitary executive,” but Congress no longer bowing to that novel interpretation of the Constitution, Bush will be sorely tempted to lash out in some violent way, if further funding for the war is denied.

To do that effectively, he will need senior generals and admirals as co-conspirators. It will be up to them to choose between career and Constitution. All too often, in such circumstances, the tendency has been to choose career.

Impeachment hearings, though, could encourage senior officers like Admiral Fallon to pause long enough to remember that their oath is to defend the Constitution, and that they are not required to follow orders to start another war in order to stave off political and personal disaster for the president and vice president.

Interesting stuff.