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George W. Bush's Disorderly Conduct

Temper tantrums, blaming others, revenge-seeking, destruction of property, deceitfulness and stealing -- it all adds up to a grim diagnosis.
 
 
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I was thinking the unthinkable the other day. I believe it was nuking Iran that I could not get my head around, but then another unthinkable rose above the horizon -- what was that? Oh, yeah, it was those Diebold voting machines that have been shown to be actively insecure. (What, you may ask, is "actively insecure"? It is where the machine invites election fraud rather than merely allowing it?)

And then I read Michelle Goldberg's piece in Salon about "Christian Nationalism" -- another unthinkable. But finally, I have to say, the ultimate thought that I could not bring myself to understand through normal mental processes was the idea that G.W. and G.H.W. Bush would seriously propose the election of Jeb Bush to the presidency.

Nuking Iran gives me chills, and Christian Nationalism freaks me out, but the election of Jeb Bush makes me run screaming around the house, scaring the children and causing the dogs to retreat to their dog houses. Why is this? Because the election of Jeb Bush is a four-for-one -- it could only come as a result of bombing Iran and a massively fraudulent election, and it would actively promote Christian Nationalism, as well as saddling us with the third in the troika of "worst presidents" ever to serve, or even be conceived of, in U.S. history.

So, after thinking the unthinkables, I went on the internet to do some research in how the Bush mind would seem to work. First, there is Poppy. I don't really understand Poppy Bush, except that I suspect he is a tool of Mommy Bush, and everyone I've ever met who has had anything to do with Mommy says that she is mean, selfish, narrow-minded, snobbish and controlling, and Poppy has been married to her a long time. My guess is that he has no personality of his own left at all.

This brings us to little George. How do you like this for a description?:

  • Frequent temper tantrums.
  • Excessive arguing with adults.
  • Active defiance and refusal to comply with adult requests and rules.
  • Deliberate attempts to annoy or upset people.
  • Blaming others for his or her mistakes or misbehavior.
  • Often being touchy or easily annoyed by others.
  • Frequent anger and resentment.
  • Mean and hateful talking when upset.
  • Seeking revenge.

While I am not a personal friend of little George, I do clearly remember the report by Karen Kwiatkowski that he called the Constitution "just a god-damned piece of paper" (active defiance and refusal to comply with adult requests and rules), and that Condi Rice once cautioned the former British ambassador, "Don't make him angry."

Every dispatch out of the White House indicates that temper tantrums are frequent, and we all know that blaming others is his calling card. Seeking revenge is his life work. So, what is this? This is "Oppositional Defiant Disorder," seen in lots of children, along with ADD, ADHD and depression. For our purposes, we can also note that ODD sometimes leads to another condition we are all familiar with called "Conduct Disorder." Here are the things that people with Conduct Disorder often do:

Aggression to people and animals

  • Bullies, threatens or intimidates others -- tattoos them with a red-hot hanger, let's say, as GWB did when he was a fraternity boy.
  • Often initiates physical fights.
  • Uses a weapon that could cause serious physical harm to others (e.g., a bat, brick, broken bottle, knife or gun -- or, let's say, an all-volunteer military).
  • Performs acts of physical cruelty to people or animals.
  • Steals from a victim while confronting them (e.g., assault) -- I know a story about Bush at Yale in which he swiped a freshman's keg and also punched the kid in the stomach, even though the kid was smaller and weaker than GWB.
  • Forces someone into sexual activity -- who knows?

Destruction of property

  • Deliberately engages in fire setting with the intention to cause damage.
  • Deliberately destroys other's property -- Iraq.

Deceitfulness, lying or stealing

  • Has broken into someone else's building, house or car.
  • Lies to obtain goods or favors or to avoid obligations -- when has he not done this? Especially if we consider the taxpayers' money.
  • Steals items without confronting a victim (e.g., shoplifting, but without breaking and entering) -- are our consitutional rights "items"?

Serious violations of rules

  • Often stays out at night despite parental objections.
  • Runs away from home.
  • Often truant from school -- or the Texas Air National Guard. George W. Bush's motto has always seemed to be "try and stop me."

But how does this relate to the unthinkables? Well, opposition arouses opposition. If the polls say that 91 percent of Americans DO NOT want to bomb Iran with any weapons, much less nuclear ones, then that just goads a person like GWB to want it all the more. As his polls drop into the 20s and then into the teens, he will be more and more tempted to do exactly what others DO NOT want him to do. Name something -- spying? making war? stealing elections? He'll show us what he thinks of us if we try to stop him!

As I think about the unthinkables, I have to say that our only hope is to treat Bush like a child, that is, to never believe that he is capable of actual mature reflection or decision, to know that all of his thoughts and feelings are impulses, reactions and defenses. They make none but the most illusionary sense. The world relies on the adults around Bush to refuse to do what he wants -- generals have to refuse to order the bombing. Pilots have to refuse to fly the planes. Election officials have to refuse to steal elections or to have them stolen. Telephone companies have to refuse to hand over their records. Congress, including the Republicans, must simply ignore all of his wishes.

He's 60 years old now, and there's no changing him. But if we pretend that he's mature, or sane or normal, we are doomed.

Jane Smiley is a novelist and essayist. Her latest book is "Thirteen Ways of Looking at the Novel" (Knopf).