Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Dysfunctional family = Dysfunctional Nation

Why, Oh why did we all have to get caught up in the tragedy of Oedipus Tex?

George Bush is always fond of saying that he had an "alcohol problem," whatever that is, but that he didn't need "no government program" to help him; nope, just a walk on the beach with Billy Graham and he was cured. But he sure pours our money into faith-based programs to the tune of billions, which, to me, is another reason for tax resistance.

If religion was the cure for alcoholism (which Bush has never admitted to) there never would have been much alcoholism in the world, especially the U.S., where their is a church on every corner of most small towns and cities.

Had junior gone to a good treatment program, which he could well afford, any counselor would have picked up on the conflicts and other issues in his life. He/she would have recommended that he seek continuing treatment on an out patient basis and get his butt to AA meetings.

Unless there is obvious danger of suicidal ideation, which would probably not be an issue for George, there probably would be no need for medication for at least 6 months to a year, if ever. It takes about a year for the toxicity of alcohol to finally leave the body and brain. Before that time, unless it's absolutely necessary, no other chemicals should be added in the kinds of treatment programs we have in the U.S., except maybe a very good vitamins. and mineral supplement.

By the end of a year, a good therapist would have had a good handle on his underlying pathology and maybe we wouldn't have to have been its victims, along with the Iraqi people and who knows who all else.

I sometimes wonder if Laura isn't far more psychologically abused in her marriage than Hillary was.

Both presidents had an addiction. Addictions, contrary to popular belief, are symptoms of a far greater underlying pathology. They are coping mechanisms for, sometimes, horrible psychic pain. Also, contrary to popular belief, addiction is not a moral failing and neither is the underlying pathology. If our society hadn't labeled addiction and mental illness so cruelly, we would be much further ahead in treating all of it.

Damn modern-day Puritans! I wonder how many people they have guilted right into their graves by ranting on about subjects about which they know nothing.

Unless someone is treated, and sometimes even if they are, if they find themselves under horrendous pressure, especially pressure that's tied to old, deep, psychological ruts (or brain habits) that person will likely return to his or her old coping mechanism.

Those of us who spent most of our professional lives working in mental health and addiction see the signs in George that he has returned to his old coping mechanism. Why would anyone be surprised by that? Bush was a binge drinker; a much harder form of alcoholism to treat, because the person only drinks ever so often, not every day, therefore he/she won't admit that they are alcoholics. You can't fix a problem if you won't admit that it exists. You certainly won't come anywhere near resolving the underlying conflicts/pathologies.

George II has certainly shown signs of delusions about himself but the biggest one of all is that he could handle the presidency. Whoever encouraged him to believe he could handle it ought to be horse-whipped. It would be like encouraging a man with two broken legs that had never been set or treated in any way by a physician to run a marathon.

No, not everyone can be president or, at least they shouldn't.

While we are on the topic, people who have been horribly tortured, leaving deep, irreparable, psychic scars for life, probably should not run for president and if he/she insists on doing so, should submit to a full battery of psychological testing. Psychological testing today is far more sophisticated than it was even ten years ago. We have scans, filtered EEGs and imaging, functional MRIs that tells us what the brain is doing under certain circumstances and if it is functioning within normal ranges.

We don't need any more psychological time bombs in the White House, PERIOD.

Oh, brother!

How George torpedoed Jeb's presidential hopes and sank the family's political dynasty.

Perhaps the old saying is true: No matter how bad things seem, something good is likely to come out of it all. If Junior has done to the Bush dynasty what he has done to Iraq, that is a good thing, for us and for the middle east.
By Jacob Weisberg
February 10, 2008
Will America close the books on the Bush dynasty when George W. leaves office in January? Or is it still possible that his younger brother, Jeb, will rise from the ashes of the second Bush presidency -- perhaps even as part of the Bush clan's ongoing duel with the House of Clinton?

While one should never say never in politics, such a rematch in 2012 or 2016 is beginning to seem extremely unlikely. Even Jeb himself apparently regards prospects for a Bush resurrection as largely hopeless. To understand why, one needs to look more closely at the relationship between George and Barbara Bush's two eldest sons.

George Walker, 61, and John Ellis Bush (who turns 55 Monday) have long been their family's principal rivals, and by various accounts they are not close. In 2004, George W. told Brit Hume of Fox News that he and Jeb speak by phone only about once a month. The competition is not always obvious because of the way George and Jeb function as allies when the family enterprise's collective interests are at stake, as they did in the 2000 Florida recount. But as a factor in George's own drive to succeed, sibling rivalry has been second only to his relationship with his father. And in a way, it is the primary expression of it, because the ultimate stake in the rivalry was inheritance of their father's mantle.

George W. was always keenly aware, according to friends and family members, that Jeb was viewed the smarter of the two. Jeb, for his part, has always known that the cousins, aunts and uncles like Junior better. Jeb is relentlessly focused, introverted and serious. Though his political future was regarded as the most promising by the rest of the family, he has never had the glib banter or the gift for friendship of his older brother.

Asked in 1987 how the brothers were different, Jeb responded: "George is the tightest with his money, that's for sure. He's always been very careful. Marvin [the youngest brother] is the most personable, and he has this great sense of humor. I'm the serious one."

That was in 1987: around the time of the Silverado meltdown, in which Neil Bush was involved. Of course he never lost a dime . The tax payers paid, once again, for Bush agreed. Note that Jeb doesn't mention Neil.

Jeb in many ways behaves more like a firstborn than a younger sibling. He was born into a more settled and established family that had moved beyond the crisis of their sister Robin's death from leukemia, an event that profoundly affected George. Jeb faced no apparent learning disabilities or struggles with self-control of the kind his older brother did. But somehow Jeb absorbed George's portion of care, while George pranced off with Jeb's share of worldly ease. Where George slacked, Jeb drove as hard as he could. Jeb has never played the game of diminishing expectations -- or many other games either.

Though both brothers tried to follow their father's example in various ways, Jeb's emulation appeared, for many years, far more successful. Jeb married young, as his father did, and got through the University of Texas in just 2 1/2 years. (Dad made it through Yale in three.) Married at 21, he was a father at 23. While George was floundering in the oil business, drilling dry holes back in the town where they grew up, Jeb was getting ahead in banking and real estate. In choosing Florida over Texas, he followed their father's script more cleverly. Miami in the early 1980s offered the kind of opportunity that Midland, Texas, had for his father in the 1950s.

Soon after his arrival there, Jeb tellingly described Miami as "the frontier" in relation to Texas, which had in the intervening decades become a place where social snobbery and established hierarchies made it hard for his wife, a Mexican immigrant, and his family to fit in.

Florida in the 1980s, like Texas in the 1960s, was a Democratic state poised to turn Republican, with a group of feverish conservatives -- the Cuban exiles -- leading the charge. Like his dad and unlike his impatient older brother, Jeb was happy to endure a dry policy discussion and a political slog. Rather than start with Congress, he ran in 1983 for Dade County Republican Party chairman, a position in which he served as a bridge between the new extremists and the national party establishment -- just as his father had for members of the John Birch Society in Harris County, Texas, in the early 1960s.

To ally himself with them, Jeb positioned himself well to the right. "I'm a hang-'em-by-the-neck conservative," he declared. When Bob Martinez was elected governor of Florida in 1986, Jeb moved to Tallahassee to become Florida's secretary of commerce.

By that point, the Bush parents had come to focus on Jeb as the family's next-generation political leader. After George H.W. Bush lost to Bill Clinton in 1992, they looked to Jeb as their best hope for vindication. Jeb's position as favorite son rankled his brother, and people I've spoken to who know the president well speculate that it was a factor in George's effort to pull his life together at age 40, when he found God and quit drinking.

Was God ever lost? I don't remember reading that in the newspapers and it would be newsworthy.

In politics, George would often drop comments that suggested he measured himself principally in relation to Jeb. Asked once on the campaign trail what he was going to do for "the little guy," he responded: "I am the little guy. Jeb is 6-4. I am only 5-11."

When George first proposed running for governor of Texas in 1990, his parents strongly opposed the idea. When he returned to the idea in 1994, they reacted the same way. Barbara Bush, in particular, worried that George's campaign would drain money and attention away from Jeb's contest for the governorship in Florida, according to Doug Wead, an aide to the father who became close to George around that time. When George chose to run despite their objections, the parents expected, as did others in the family, that he would lose to Ann Richards and that Jeb would defeat Lawton Chiles. When George won and Jeb lost, their positions were reversed.

In the hotel suite in Houston where George was celebrating, his aunt, Nancy Ellis, heard him speaking to his father over the phone. "Why do you feel bad about Jeb?" he asked his dad, according to one biography of the family. "Why don't you feel good about me?" Such feelings notwithstanding, primogeniture -- inheritance by the firstborn son -- was now restored. By the time Jeb was elected Florida governor in 1998, his brother was already planning his own presidential campaign.

As the second Bush presidency grinds to its dismal conclusion, both Jeb and his parents seem to think that George's mistakes have destroyed the second son's chances of ever occupying the White House, family friends say. Jeb was merely recognizing reality when he opted not to run for president in 2008. While a campaign in 2012 or beyond is theoretically possible, Jeb says he has no interest and complains that no one will believe him.

Among those who don't want to take no for an answer is his brother the president, for whom, ironically, Jeb's election would provide a measure of historical vindication.

While Jeb seems resigned to abandoning politics, family friends have described his parents as devastated that the older son spiked the chances of the younger one. In December 2006, the former president gave a glimpse of this when he paid tribute to his second son at a ceremony to mark the end of Jeb's two terms as governor. Bush began to crack when talking about Jeb's 1994 defeat, and how his son didn't whine or complain about the unfair attacks on him in the election. "The true measure of a man is ... " Bush tried to say, now openly sobbing as Jeb approached to comfort him, " ... is how you handle victory ... and also defeat."

Jeb, the obedient son, the one who was supposed to be president, who even after George Junior's election was regarded as a potential third in the line, now faces a political impasse. His older brother dashed ahead and blew up the bridge behind him. At this point, not many people inside or outside the family think it can be rebuilt.

Jacob Weisberg is the editor of Slate and the author of "The Bush Tragedy" (Random House).

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. I.U. has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of this article nor is I.U endorsed or sponsored by the originator.)

The Nazis, Fascists and Communists were political parties before they became enemies of liberty and mass murderers.

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