Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Pop Psychology

Seven Days in December?
Published: December 5, 2007

I'll make you two promises: a very good steak, medium rare, and the truth, which is very rare.
-Ava Gardner in Seven Days In May

Back in October, Maureen Dowd evoked the dark comedy Dr. Strangelove to ridicule the relentless push for an attack on Iran. Now, as a National Intelligence Estimate pulls the rug out from under the neocon call for war, Dowd recalls the classic political thriller Seven Days In May. Kirk Douglas foils a coup d'état led by charismatic general Burt Lancaster. Norman Podhoretz is forgetting who the bad guys were in the movie:
Even though Norman Podhoretz is conjuring up a “Seven Days in December” spy thriller scenario in which the intelligence agencies colluded to sabotage the president and prevent him from the noble mission of air strikes on Iran, W. insisted he felt “pretty good about life.”
The N-Podian doublethink is elucidated in his Commentary article where Warhawk Norm makes the argument that since the intelligence community was wrong about Iraq building nukes, it must also be wrong about Iran NOT building nukes. The conspiratorial part of the delusion comes with this quote:
But I entertain an even darker suspicion. It is that the intelligence community, which has for some years now been leaking material calculated to undermine George W. Bush, is doing it again. This time the purpose is to head off the possibility that the President may order air strikes on the Iranian nuclear installations.
This rationalization extends to Dubya’s worldview according to Dowd:
If W. can shape the intelligence to match his faith-based beliefs, as with Iraq, then he will believe the intelligence — no matter how incredible it is.

If he can’t shape it to match his beliefs, as with Iran, then he will disregard the intelligence — no matter how credible it is.
Dowd then explicitly points out the 1984-ish paranoid paradox of W., Cheney and the neocons (which would be a good name for a very out of tune rock band).
The president, who has shut out reality for seven years, justified continuing in his world of ideological illusion by saying that he would not be “blinded” to the realities of the world. You can’t get more Orwellian than that.

“And so,” W. concluded triumphantly, and nonsensically, “kind of Psychology 101 ain’t working.”
Bush The Elder once called Reagonomics “voodoo”, but Dubya is dismissive of another soft science:
W. loves to act as though psychology is voodoo even though his whole misbegotten foreign policy has been conducted from his gut, by checking the body language of his inner circle and looking into the hearts and souls of dictatorial leaders.

If I were looking at the latest fiasco from a Psych 101 point of view, I’d say it was another daddy issue for W.

Poppy Bush, who was once C.I.A. director, loved the agency and liked to sign notes: “Head Spook.” The C.I.A. headquarters bear his name.

W., by contrast, has voiced contempt for the intelligence community. In 2004, he dismissed a pessimistic National Intelligence Estimate that didn’t match his sunny vision of the Iraq occupation, saying that the analysts were “just guessing as to what the conditions might be like.”
Armchair pop psychoanalysis of Dubya is a cottage industry including books and articles describing the various pathologies that he exhibits. Many theories cover the long tumultuous history Bush 43 had with Bush 41. Wikipedia describes an infamous encounter:
The most notorious episode, reported in numerous diverse sources including U.S. News & World Report, November 1, 1999, Secrecy & Privilege: Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq by Robert Parry, First Son: George W. Bush and the Bush Family Dynasty by Bill Minutaglio, and W: Revenge of the Bush Dynasty by Elizabeth Mitchell, has 26-year-old George W. Bush visiting his parents in Washington, D. C. over the Christmas vacation in 1972 (shortly after the death of his grandfather) and taking his 16-year-old brother Marvin out drinking. On the way home George lost control of the car and ran over a garbage can, but continued home with the can wedged noisily under the car. When his father, George H. W. Bush, called him on the carpet for not only his own behavior but for exposing his younger brother to risk, George W., still under the influence, appears to have retorted angrily, "I hear you're looking for me. You wanna go mano-a-mano right here?"

Dowd takes this encounter and others like it and makes it a metaphor for the entire Bush legacy.
When W.’s history is written, he will be seen as the rebellious teenager crashing the family station wagon into his father’s three most cherished spots — diplomacy, intelligence and the Gulf.
While many rumor that Dowd has a soft spot for Pappy, she clearly understands which Bush was the wise patriach and which prodigal son squandered a legacy.