Friday :: Sep 23, 2005

Stickin' With The Longnecks

by pessimist

There has been a lot of chatter lately that King George has succumbed to Demon Rum again. There is enough of it going about that it has gotten the attention of the Red State Bloggers:

Left-wingers Are Getting Desperate

Okay, I realize that headline could have applied at many points in time during the last couple years. But now, I think they've hit an all time low in the desperation to tar Bush with something, anything and everything, hoping something will stick.

The National Enquirer is reporting that Bush is hitting the sauce again because things are getting pretty dicey at this stage in his presidency. Liberals are actually taking this story seriously and trying to smear the President with it! Can you believe it? They'll stop at nothing!

Their evidence for this story was, of course, unnamed sources who said the family is "very concerned" about this. They also cited as evidence the fact that the President passed out choking on a pretzel during a football game, the fact that he fell down while riding his bicycle last year (evidently Kerry is not a drunk, he's just clumsy), and the fact that he messes up during his speeches.

So here we have Exhibit A, your honor, of how far blind hatred of Bush will drive you. Such is the state of liberalism in America today.

Au contraire, mon frere! Methinks the wrong-wing doth protest too much!

Think of how quickly the Republicans will dismiss any contention that they have done something wrong, generally with a terse and snide aside, then swing into a major tirade about the revealer being a liberal less-than-human. Why so much reaction if this latest revelation is as mythical as we are expected to believe?

This issue is being dismissed as if it is a myth, but how quickly we have forgotten that a single blogger with a dubious reputation and no source attributions brought about the greatest political scandal since Watergate!

Who is to say that just because there are some wisps of smoke that there isn't a fire?

There is precedent for wondering about the mental stability of the president:

Report: Nixon Drunk In '73 Crisis

Five days into the 1973 Arab-Israeli war, with the superpowers on the brink of confrontation, President Richard Nixon was too drunk to discuss the crisis with the British prime minister, according to newly released transcripts of tape recordings.

Drunk in charge (part two)

Back in Washington, on the evening of October 24 [1973], the secretary of state [Kissenger] found himself faced with the possibility that the Soviets might send forces to the war zone. At 7.05pm he interrupted a phone confrontation with Ambassador Dobrynin to take a call from the president. Nixon was "agitated and emotional", and his principal concern was himself.

Starting to sound familiar?

It was on that night that the red button moment occurred. Kissinger's conversation with Dobrynin convinced him that Moscow was intent on sending in troops. He worked the phone for two hours, then called Haig at 9.30pm, only to be told that Nixon had already "retired for the night".
At a moment that he and Haig agreed might herald the presidency's "most explosive crisis", the leader of the free world was unavailable.
At US air bases, B-52s loaded with nuclear weapons lined up nose to tail. In missile silos, launch commanders buckled themselves into their chairs. Nuclear-armed submarines sped to secret positions off the Soviet coast, prepared to launch. In case those steps were not sufficient to put the Soviets on notice, two aircraft carriers were ordered to move closer to the conflict, amphibious ships were ordered to leave port in Crete, B-52s in the Pacific headed for the US, and the 82nd Airborne was placed on alert. A stern reply to Brezhnev's letter, telling him that unilateral Soviet action would, among other things, be contrary to the Agreement on Prevention of Nuclear War, went out at dawn. It was sent in Nixon's name.

The account of another senior participant suggests that this is not the full story. Admiral Elmo Zumwalt, the chief of naval operations, recalled being summoned on the night of the alert, along with the other joint chiefs, to a 2am meeting with defence secretary James Schlesinger and his deputy, William Clements. Nixon's name was not mentioned when they discussed the alert, and Zumwalt was told that it had been initiated without the president's involvement.

"We had to go on nuclear alert without his permission," the admiral recalled in 1997. "The reason we had to do that was because he could not be awakened. Nixon obviously had too much to drink... I was told at the time that they were not able to waken him."
Roger Morris, a former Kissinger aide, has quoted the secretary of state's senior assistant, Lawrence Eagleburger, and other colleagues as saying Nixon was "upstairs drunk... slurring his words and barely roused when Haig and Kissinger tried to deal with him in the first moment of the crisis".
Whether or not the president had been drunk, the fact remains that the world had been on the brink of a nuclear crisis while he was asleep.

This was one of the earliest clear signs that something was wrong with President Nixon, and the nation - nay, the world! -was clearly at risk because of his condition. There had been some discussion of these rumors as of June of 1973:

The word circulating at the New York Times was that Nixon was seeing a psychiatrist. The therapist they had in mind was Dr Hutschnecker, whom Nixon had consulted on and off since the 50s, and reporters armed with the doctor's photograph for identification began looking for him wherever Nixon went. The Washington Star-News, meanwhile, published an extraordinary, speculative piece about what would happen if a US president became mentally ill. "What happens," writer Smith Hempstone asked, "if the president becomes physically or emotionally incapacitated and is unable or unwilling to recognise that incapacity, as might well happen in the case of a mental breakdown?... That prospect is too horrible to contemplate."

It's only horrible if one understands the incredible power of nuclear weapons - and the power of those authorized to use them:

At Key Biscayne, according to a Secret Service source, Nixon once lost his temper during a conversation about Cambodia. "He just got pissed," the agent quoted eyewitnesses as saying. "They were half in the tank, sitting around the pool drinking. And Nixon got on the phone and said: 'Bomb the shit out of them!'"
"If the president had his way," Kissinger growled to aides more than once, "there would be a nuclear war each week!"
This may not have been an idle jest. The CIA's top Vietnam specialist, George Carver, reportedly said that in 1969, when the North Koreans shot down a US spy plane, "Nixon became incensed and ordered a tactical nuclear strike... The Joint Chiefs were alerted and asked to recommend targets, but Kissinger got on the phone to them. They agreed not to do anything until Nixon sobered up in the morning."

Suppose such a scenario were to occur today? Could we be sure that an understanding Condi would keep the Rumsfeld Pentagon from following these orders - even if from an otherwise incapacitated Commander in Chief?

This is why we ask - even if the rumors about George W. Bush prove to be untrue. We all need assurance that the world's largest nuclear arsenal is in good hands - hands that are informed, aware, and sane. The alternative is too ghastly for those who only get their news from FAUX to contemplate.

Now, for those who can contemplate this: The rumors we are hearing about George Bu$h are not comforting:

White House insiders say Bush is growing increasingly bitter over mounting opposition to his war in Iraq. Polls show a vast majority of Americans now believe the war was a mistake and most doubt the President’s honesty. “Who gives a flying fuck what the polls say,” he screamed at a recent strategy meeting. “I’m the President and I’ll do whatever I goddamned please. They don’t know shit.”

Once again, history preceeds:

Anthony Lukas, one of the most reliable of Watergate chroniclers, quoted a White House aide who compared Nixon in the last days to Captain Queeg in Herman Wouk's The Caine Mutiny: "Given to sudden rages, to wild speculations, terrible doubts."

"A new element crept into our calculations about the effect our actions might have on the president," Watergate assistant prosecutor Richard Ben-Veniste remembered. "If there was a streak of instability there, then it meant we would have to be extra careful to keep from pushing Mr Nixon over some invisible line into disaster - maybe disaster for all of us."

By the summer of that last year, the apprehension had spread to Congress, focusing on two issues in particular. Was the president so disturbed that he might start a war? Also, might he attempt to use the army to seal off the Capitol or surround the White House? Senator Alan Cranston, from California, had become alarmed when, as the impeachment process got underway, Nixon began courting members of the House, inviting them on to his yacht. The president had spoken, Cranston heard, of how he could press a button and in 20 minutes, 50 million Russians would be dead, and - after that - how many Americans?

These are still valid questions:

The carefully-crafted image of George W. Bush as a bold, decisive leader is cracking under the weight of new revelations that the erratic President is indecisive, moody, paranoid and delusional.

“More and more this brings back memories of the Nixon White House,” says retired political science professor George Harleigh, who worked for President Nixon during the second presidential term that ended in resignation under fire. “I haven’t heard any reports of President Bush wondering the halls talking to portraits of dead Presidents but what I have been told is disturbing.”

While current White House aides and officials would not allow their names to be used when commenting about Bush’s erratic behavior, others like former Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill confirm concerns about Bush’s mood swings. O’Neill says Bush was moody in cabinet meetings and would wander off on tangents, mostly about Saddam Hussein and Iraq. Bush, O’Neill says, seemed more focused on Iraq than on finding Osama bin Laden and would lash out at anyone who disagreed with him.

Harleigh says it is not unusual for White House staffers to refuse to go public with their concerns about the President’s behavior. “We saw the same thing in the Nixon years,” he says.

“What is unusual is that the White House has not been able to trot out even one staffer who is willing to go public and say positive things about the President’s mental condition. That says more than anything else.”
A new book by Dr. Justin Frank, director of psychiatry at George Washington University, raises many questions about the President’s mental stability. "George W. Bush is a case study in contradiction," Dr. Frank writes in Bush On The Couch: Inside the Mind of the President. "Bush is an untreated ex-alcoholic with paranoid and megalomaniac tendencies."

Dr. Frank says the episode is typical of how Bush deals with death and tragedy. He notes that Bush avoids funerals.

“President Bush has not attended a single funeral - other than that of President Reagan. In my book I explore some possible reasons for that, whether or not it is "presidential". I am less interested in judging his behavior on political grounds than I am in thinking about its meaning both to him and to the rest of us,” Dr. Frank says. “He has spent a lifetime of avoiding grief, starting with the death of his sister when he was 7 years old. His parents didn't help him with what must have been confusing and frightening feelings. He also has a history of evading responsibility and perhaps his not attending funerals has to do with not wanting to see the damage his policies have wrought.”

In his book, Dr. Frank also suggests Bush resents those in the military. “Bush's behavior strongly suggests an unconscious resentment toward our own servicemen, whose bravery puts his own (nonexistent) wartime service record to shame,” he wrote.

Supporters of President Bush dismiss Frank’s book as the work of a Democrat who once headed the Washington Chapter of Physicians for Social Responsibility, but his work has been praised by other prominent psychiatrists, including Dr. James Grotstein, Professor at UCLA Medical Center, and Dr. Irvin Yalom, MD, Professor Emeritus at Stanford University Medical School.

Dr. Carolyn Williams, a psychoanalyst who specializes in paranoid personalities, is a registered Republican and agrees with most of Dr. Frank’s conclusions. “I find the bulk of his analysis credible,” she said in an interview. “President Bush grew up dealing with an absent but demanding father, a tough mother and an overachieving brother. All left indelible impressions on him along with a desire to prove himself at all cost because he feels surrounded by disapproval. His behavior suggests a classic paranoid personality. Additionally, his stated belief that certain actions are 'God's Will' are symptomatic of delusional behavior.”

Ryan Reynolds, a childhood friend of Bush, concurs. “George wanted to please his father but never felt he measured up, especially when compared to Jeb,” Reynolds said.

Dr. Williams wonders if the Iraq war was not Bush’s way of “proving he could finish something his father could not by deposing Saddam Hussein.” But Bush's desire to please his father may have backfired. Former President George H.W. Bush has remained silent publicly about the war, saying he will only discuss it with his son 'in private'.

Close aides say that is because he disapproves of his son's actions against Iraq. "Former President Bush does not support the war against Iraq," says former aide John Ruskin. "It is as simple at that."

Dr. Frank, the Democrat, says the only diagnosis he can offer for the President’s condition is removal from office.

Dr. Williams, the Republican, says she must 'reluctantly agree'.

“We have too many unanswered questions about the President’s behavior,” she says. “You cannot have those kinds of unanswered questions when you are talking about the leader of the free world.”

So,, we are going to continue to ask about King George's substance abuse and current mental health. We understand - in ways you clearly do not - what the stakes are. Demonstrate to us that all is well and this issue will go away.

If you don't - or can't - then your time is upon you. May your God have mercy upon you.

We won't.

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