What Is He Capable Of?
The Presidential Psychology at the End of Days
By John P Briggs, M.D. and JP Briggs II, Ph.D.
t r u t h o u t | Perspective
The true rule in determining to embrace, or reject anything, is not whether it has any evil in it, but whether it have more of evil, than of good. There are few things wholly evil, or wholly good. Almost every thing, especially of governmental policy, is an inseparable compound of the two; so that our best judgment of the preponderance between them is continually demanded. - Abraham Lincoln, June 20, 1848
In defiance of his circumstances as an unpopular, lame duck president with a minority party in Congress, George W. Bush pursues a sharply autocratic tone. He has intimidated both parties in Congress and violated the Constitution. Through dissimulation and delay, he has forced the nations of the world to conclude they must wait until his term ends to negotiate any serious treaty on the imminent perils of climate change.
A sort of thousand-mile stare has descended on the country. Frank Rich writes, "we are a people in clinical depression" as a result of Bush's leadership. Perhaps, a more apt diagnosis would be "dissociation." Like a child or spousal victim of a psychological abuser, Bush's "victims" try to mentally compartmentalize him; they attempt to get on with their lives - even as he keeps on being abusive. You can hear the dissociation when Congressional leaders talk about their inability to make Washington work as it should.
Some, including Daniel Ellsberg, who challenged the autocratic aspirations of Richard Nixon by releasing the Pentagon Papers, suggest Bush has already created a "presidential coup." Ellsberg has said, "If there's another 9/11 under this regime, it means that they switch on full extent all the apparatus of a police state that has been patiently constructed."
We would like to answer several questions here. Is the president psychologically capable of such treasonous behavior? Why and how does his psychology make it so difficult for Democrats and others to stand up against his negativity and destructiveness (what he thinks of as his optimism)? How might they neutralize his psychology, which seems geared to inflict harm?
Behind the Torture, All That Stuff He Can't Admit
The president's reflex to justify his right to use torture, even as he insists "we don't torture," illuminates how his psychology works and provides a glimpse into its dark potential.