Earlier this month, New York Magazine published a series of essays under the collective title, “Bush’s Mind: Analyzing the President.” In 17 essays by experts in politcs and psychology, the magazine offers what it calls a “psychopolitical survey” of the inner George W. Bush:
A Decadent Aristocrat, by By Andrew Solomon, author of The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression:
Bush, like his mother, has an almost inhuman ability to identify his own advantage without the slightest regard to its cost to others. One reads in Lincolnâ€™s diaries of how his heart bled for every soldier who died in the war he felt obliged to wage; one reads in Bushâ€™s face and in his speeches an inability to conceive of other people as fully human, including the soldiers who die at his behest, a quality that renders him less than fully human himself. This heartlessness, unlike his achievement of the presidency, is the very hallmark of decadent aristocracy. It is worth noting, however, that most aristocracy is not so far decayed; the queen of England, despite her less cuddly manner, is clearly more compassionate than W.
Bush’s upbringing in wealth and privilege is key to understanding him, and yet the public is blind to it. They take his mangled hocum and NASCAR Dad persona at face value. Conversely, Traditional Media types tend to bow and scrape in front of their betters, and I believe Bush’s high station in life is a factor in the nearly hands-off coverage he’s gotten in the Capitol.
First and foremostly, George W. Bush is the spoiled and pampered scion of an American dynasty that goes back to Pres. Pierce. His position in life, and his attitude about it, explains everything about the ease with which he has failed upward, all the way to the top.
Simplicity Himself, by By Franklin Foer, editor of The New Republic:
Where Nixon was a barrel of laughs, the Bush presidency simply isnâ€™t very funny. There are no masterful Bush impersonators. Nixonâ€™s comedic appeal resided in his dark interior life. When he spoke in public, you knew that you werenâ€™t getting the full Nixon. Back in the private quarters of the White House, he was famously brooding over his enemies, sipping scotch, and talking to the portraits on the wall. The fact that the leader of the Free World was neurotic, paranoid, and palpably creepy made him a genuinely excellent premise for jokes. Bush has none of these qualities. Even as his entire presidency has tanked, he shows no signs of acquiring psychological complexities. He remains the “simple,” “resolute” man that his hagiographers once venerated.
Mockery and satire are safety valves as old as society itself that enable the people to humanize their leaders. But Bush mocks us before we can mock him. He mocks us with his palpable disdain for the news media, the Congress and, most of all, our votes in November 2006. As any eight-year-old can tell you, mocking mockery is ceases to be fun after a few tries.
Dad, the Bottle, Vietnam, by By Jonathan Alter, Newsweek columnist:
I see Bushâ€™s behavior as the result of three major forces: the dad, the bottle, and the Vietnam War. For most of his life, Bush tried and failed to follow in his absent fatherâ€™s footsteps. His father was a war hero; Bush a no-show Guardsman dodging Vietnam. His father did well in the oil business; Bush struck dry holes. His father got elected to Congress; Bush was defeated in 1978. A collection of Bush Sr.â€™s letters contains far more to Jeb than George W. Finally, in 1994, Bush was elected governor of Texas, but George and Bar were so upset that their anointed son, Jeb, lost the election that night for the governorship of Florida that they barely seemed to notice. You donâ€™t have to be Freud to see that Bush has snubbed his fatherâ€™s closest advisers (who turned out to be right) and hired men who held his father in contempt, like Don Rumsfeld (who turned out to be wrong).
If Bush were a Democrat, the Liberal Media would not rest until they knew whether or not the “former” alcoholic president was drinking again.
His Smile, by By Deepak Chopra, president, Alliance for a New Humanity:
One of the most unnerving things about George Bush is his smile. As the situation in Iraq has grown more calamitous, the smile hasnâ€™t disappeared. Itâ€™s become markedly patronizing, saying, “Iâ€™m right on this. The rest of you just donâ€™t understand.” A pitying smile … Itâ€™s been pointed out that until he became president, Bush didnâ€™t smirk. Itâ€™s grown into a disturbing tic, expressing a mixture of contradictory traits: smugness, disdain, self-consciousness, doubt … People who read contempt in it are rightfully offended. They think of Bushâ€™s most unpleasant attribute: his sense of entitlement.
Having accomplished little in his life, he nevertheless expected the highest rewards. He wanted victory to come easily, as his birthright. When it did come in 2000 — to the astonishment even of his family — the smirk said, “I told you so.” His smile turns into a go-to-hell smirk whenever Bush hears a hostile question. Heâ€™s shielding himself from impudence while reining in his own simmering anger. Heâ€™s smirking to put you on warning. In a moment he might blow his top. Bushâ€™s smile also tells us, almost guilelessly, that he isnâ€™t suffering inside.