Wednesday, January 03, 2007

National Co-dependent Nightmare

So the next big thing on the Iraq War front (stc says blithely, like she hasn't been awol for several months) is the mindless and irrational notion of a "sustained surge", because escalation didn't sound sexy enough. And because this new message was met with the derision it deserves, we have been called upon to accept the need for "sacrifice" as if the majority of us don't already understand the nature of the sacrifices made by those who have served and died, are still over there, and those who look certain to be called into Bush's War over the next two years. Those of us who knew this debacle was a mistake to begin with know, the American people who voted out the Republican do-nothing congress know, hell, the entire world knows the sacrifices being made in Iraq, except for the very ignorant, misguided and evil men who took us there to begin with.

In his White House Briefing, Dan Froomkin asks, "Where is the outrage?" of the American people who are having their wishes ignored and their soldiers put in harm's way on a fool's errand with no objective or hope of success. He points us to Keith Olbermann's most recent Special Comment (via C&L and well worth a listen) who calls out W with these preminiscent words, "First we sent Americans to their deaths for your lie, Mr. Bush. Now we are sending them to their deaths for your ego."

Froomkin also points out Jane Smiley at Huffington Post, who posits the very real observation and resultant question,
"People always comment on how stubborn George W. Bush is, or how stupid he is,
or how ignorant he is, but what they don't comment on is how selfish he is.
Clearly, the face that is being saved in this probable "surge" is his face, and
that's how he wants it... {The Bush Administration} were indifferent to
everything about the war except George W. Bush's mood. When his mood was good,
they told him some nice things about Iraq, and when his mood was bad, they kept
the bad news from him so his mood wouldn't get worse. Remember how the former
British Ambassador was warned by Condi Rice as he went into a meeting with Bush,
"Don't make him angry"? One thing I have always wondered about Bush, that I
wonder even more now, is what is the source of his power over these people, that
come hell (Iraq) or high water (Katrina), they do what he wants? Does he throw
things? Does he hold his breath and turn red in the face, so that they worry
he'll have a stroke? Does he hit people? Does he shout, "Off with his head!"?
Does he send high level dissenters to Gitmo? (I wish he would, so that they
could come to experience and understand conditions there). Do they just defer to
him because of the office of the Presidency? (No one did that with Bill
Clinton). Why would anyone feel allegiance to George W. Bush? It's a mystery,
and it's a mystery that is killing people every day."

Finally, Froomkin shares the wisdom of an anonymous reader who suggests,
"Obviously we will have to change course, but he's not going to be the guy to do
it. He will then maintain that someone else 'lost' Iraq because they didn't have
the courage and determination to stick it out. As with everything in his life,
from his National Guard service to his serial failures in business and life in
general, it's all about him - not the country, not the job, not our reputation
in the world or our hard won and universally admired heritage of concern for
basic human rights. He's not trying to save this country or Iraq, he's trying to
save himself and his 'place in history'. He's completely wrong of course, but
given his history of privilege and never having to suffer the consequences of
his long record of bad decisions, it does kind of make sense. We assume that,
like most Presidents, he connects his self-image with actual success or failure
in the real world. I increasingly am drawn to the conclusion that, regardless of
the facts on the ground, he will consider himself a success as long as he never
admits that his ill-fated adventure in Iraq can't succeed."

I post all these links both because they are excellent in and of themselves, but also because they tend to coincide with and confirm something I have supposed for many years, that George W. Bush is seriously mentally ill. I've talked in the past about how "dry drunk" W missed several of the most important of the 12 steps, including a fearless moral inventory, amends, and regular critical self-review. This allows him to claim to have overcome alcohol abuse, while never really admitting he had a problem to begin with, and it is in this very episode that we find the blackhole that lies in the midst of Bush's psyche.

Wikipedia describes Personality Disorders as
"characterized by long-lasting rigid patterns of thought and
actions...Personality disorders are seen by the American Psychiatric Association
as an enduring pattern of inner experience and behavior that deviates markedly
from the expectations of the culture of the individual who exhibits it. These
patterns are inflexible and pervasive across many situations. The onset of the
pattern can be traced back at least to the beginning of adulthood. To be
diagnosed as a personality disorder, a behavioral pattern must cause significant
distress or impairment in personal, social, and/or occupational situations."

Moreover, "Narcissistic Personality Disorder is characterized by extreme focus on oneself, and is a maladaptive, rigid, and persistent condition that may cause significant distress and functional impairment...At least five of the following are necessary for a diagnosis (as with many DSM diagnoses, they must form a pervasive pattern; for example, a person who shows these criteria only in one or two relationships or situations would not properly be diagnosed with NPD): 1) has a grandiose sense of self-importance (he's The Decider); 2) is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love (Iraq); 3) believes that he or she is "special" and unique and can only be understood by other special people (believes God speaks to/through him); 4) requires excessive admiration ("Don't make him angry?"); 5) strong sense of entitlement (oh, Lord, don't get me started on this one); 6) takes advantage of others to achieve his or her own ends (the American people, the soldiers who have died in Iraq); 7) lacks empathy (Iraq, Katrina, tax cuts, healthcare, surge); 8) is often envious or believes others are envious of him or her (I'm going back to The Decider on this one, petulant reactions to anyone whom he believes is stealing his thunder; 9) arrogant affect (in psychiatric speak, affect means mood, see Jane Smiley's comments above, it's all about him). I make that nine out of nine.

Add to the mix this general definition - Narcissism is a psychological disorder resulting from a person’s belief that he or she is not flawed in a way that makes the person fallible to others (see Bush's alcoholism), and the tendency for narcissists to surround themselves with co-narcissists who feel responsible for, accept blame readily for another, are eager to please another, defer to another's opinions, and fear being considered selfish if they act assertively (Condi, Harriett, Laura, many Cabinet members, Generals, etc).

Bush is a full-blown Narcissist in a high degree of dysfunction, and if he were anyone else in the world, would be under psychaitric care, not trusted to make major decisions, unemployable, you name it. But because he was born a Bush (and this is most likely the key to his disorder, his well-established dysfunctional relationship with his parents), he has never had to suffer the consequesnces of his actions and has risen to the most powerful position in the world functionally disabled. And before you discount this premise as fanciful, possible, but trivial, remember that this very disability is primarily responsible for the deaths of 3000+ American servicemen and women, somewhere in the nature of half a million Iraqis, not to mention the aftermath of Katrina and many, many other domestic troubles. And because we as a country have tacitly allowed this behavior to control our lives for six and counting long years, we are all co-dependent in this long national nightmare.