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Tuesday, May 27, 2003

"He was never an alcoholic. It's just he knows he can't hold his liquor." - former President George Herbert Bush, about his eldest son.

When George W. Bush quit drinking for good at age 40, it closed a sometimes unfocused chapter in his life and set into motion a period in which perhaps the "drug of choice" had changed but not, evidently, the associated behaviors.

That previous chapter had also, in the 1970s, included a stint smoking cigarettes and, later, chewing tobacco. Reminiscing about those heady days, during the 2000 presidential campaign, then-candidate Bush mused, "The coolest thing of all was to light up a butt."

A drug is a drug is a drug, as they say.

So, now, the question becomes: Is President Bush (or, as I call him, "Emperor Dubya") a so-called 'dry drunk'?

The definition of "dry drunk" (from http://alcoholism.about.com) reads: "A colloquial term generally used to describe someone who has stopped drinking, but who still demonstrates the same alcoholic behaviors and attitudes."

These attitudes can include judgmental and childish behavior, polarized thinking, obsessive thought patterns, and grandiosity.

In other words, behaviors in direct opposition to his claim to be a "sensitive, compassionate and open-minded leader."

As early as January 2000, during a campaign speech in which he reflected on the 'Cold War' era, Bush stated, "...it was a dangerous world and we knew exactly who the 'they' were. It was us versus them and we knew exactly who them was. Now we're not so sure who the 'they' are, but we know they're there." ("American Unilateralism is Back", Observer UK, 27 January '02)

No doubt, the early makings of "self-will run riot".

Bush's judgmental behavior, and polarized "us versus them" thinking was no more evident than in his treatment of various world leaders in the weeks after 'Iraq War II: The Mother of All Skirmishes'.

To quote:

"President George W. Bush rewarded Australian Prime Minister John Howard for his staunch support for the Iraq war with a ride on Air Force One and a prized overnight stay at his Texas ranch...

... He joins an "A-list" of world leaders in Bush's good books who have visited the Prairie Chapel ranch, including British Prime Minister Tony Blair, Crown Prince Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Jiang Zemin.

Howard's treatment contrasts sharply with that meted out to leaders of nations which opposed the US-led war with Iraq, particularly French President Jacques Chirac.

"I doubt he'll be coming to the ranch any time soon," Bush told NBC television in an interview last week..." ("War Buddies Bush and Howard Meet", Agence-France Presse, 2 May '03)

This "all or nothing" attitude, common with the 'dry drunk', is sometimes referred to as "stinkin' thinkin'" in recovery circles. And it wasn't so much that Bush snubbed world leaders that had disagreed with him. That's just politics-as-usual. It was the rather belligerent and public way in which he did it that causes pause.

A telling passage, which may shed some light on Bush's actions, reads:

"Our egomania digs two disastrous pitfalls. Either we insist upon dominating the people we know, or we depend upon them far too much...

...When we habitually try to manipulate others to our own willful desires, they revolt, and resist us heavily. Then we develop hurt feelings, a sense of persecution, and a desire to retaliate." - pp 176, 'As Bill Sees It' (Alcoholics Anonymous)

The genesis of these "rages" came during the post-9/11 period, a time when a little rage was fully understandable and needed, but, alas, it never seemed to fully transform into the long-term, evenhanded resolve one might've expected.

Two weeks after the attacks, Bush stated, "We're not into nation building. We're focused on justice."

His attitude softened a bit once military strikes in Afghanistan ended, when he called on the United Nations, with U.S. participation, to take over the long term rebuilding and stabilization of that country.

Or so it seemed.

Perhaps handing over the "rebuilding" reins was part of the powerholic ebb and flow, or because there was a better "power high" to be had by moving on to the oil-pregnant deserts of Iraq.

Or it could be, with Afghanistan quelled but key members of al Qaeda having scattered in the wind, a more politically savvy target was needed. Both to quench that thirst for power and to appease the American public in order to hold onto that power come 2004.

As was stated, some 30+ years ago, in a study by social psychologists Alan Kerckhoff and Kurt Back, "the belief in a tangible threat makes it possible to explain and justify one's sense of discomfort."

Or maybe it's as simple as one particularly humorous anti-war sign stated: "Drunk Frat Boy Drives Economy Into Ditch, Starts War to Cover It Up."

Bush's "all or nothing" attitude, part of the powerholic's desire to control "people, places and things", is also affecting domestic issues.

To quote:

"A few months ago, Bush seemed poised for success. He worked to help Republicans regain control of the Senate in November and expand their slim majority in the House of Representatives...

...Yet no action is imminent on his most ambitious priorities, such as allowing investment of Social Security taxes in the stock market and giving religious groups a chance to compete for federal funds to run social programs...

Why can't the president get what he wants?

...Some Republican leaders in Congress complain that Bush doesn't seek their advice often enough. Senate moderates are frustrated that he sometimes doesn't seem willing to negotiate. Some Republicans say the president is disdainful of their co-equal branch of government." ("Tension with Republicans...", USA Today, 13 May '03)

But maybe his attitude, if his goals of "fighting terrorism" or passing favored legislation can supercede his "feeding of ego", should be more along the lines of this telling quote:

"More and more we regard all who labor (in the total field of alcoholism) as our companions on a march from darkness into light. We see that we can accomplish together what we could never accomplish in separation and in rivalry." - pp 45, 'As Bill Sees It'

However, if you were a "raging powerholic" you'd probably have a different attitude altogether.

When it comes to grandiosity, the prime example would be Bush's shift toward pre-emptive unilateral military strikes against nations that one day possibly may pose a threat to the U.S.

Again, note Iraq. Ditto Syria and Iran in the near future.

The one exception may be any country that may already possess nuclear capabilities and, by that, I mean North Korea. He may be a powerholic, but Bush isn't stupid.

On a more specific note, one only has to look at "Emperor Dubya's" landing by jet on aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln in early May, in order to make a televised speech onboard.

Perhaps G. Gordon Liddy explained it best, on MSNBC's "Hardball" (8 May '03), when he said, "You know, he's in his flight suit, he's striding across the deck, and he's wearing his parachute harness, you know - and I've worn those because I parachute - and it makes the best of his manly characteristic. You go run those, run that stuff again of him walking across there with the parachute. He has just won every woman's vote in the United States of America. You know, all those women who say size doesn't count - they're all liars."

Ironically, Liddy was defending "The Emperor" who wore new clothes. But then, Liddy is a powerholic from way back. So go figure.

We went from terrorist attacks, to the war with Iraq, and in the post-war era we're back to the attacks.

After suicide bombers killed up to 10 Americans in Saudi Arabia in the first major attack on U.S. targets since the war in Iraq, Bush vowed a "relentless hunt" for al Qaeda, saying, "These despicable acts were committed by killers whose only faith is hate, and the United States will find the killers and they will learn the meaning of American justice." ("Bush Vows to Step Up Fight Against al Qaeda", Reuters, 13 May '03)

While I can basically agree with the sentiment, it is the wording that disturbs me.

It is highly reminiscent of his use of the word "crusade", in describing his focus and resolve to eradicate al Qaeda - and the "axis of evil" harboring similar "evildoers" - in the days immediately following the horrific events of 9/11. At that time, he called it "civilization's fight" between freedom and fear, and added, "God is not neutral between them."

All of which again demonstrates Bush's obsessive thought patterns. The same tape keeps playing ad infinitum.

"The positive value of righteous indignation is theoretical - especially for alcoholics. It leaves every one of us open to the rationalization that we may be as angry as we like provided we can claim to be righteous about it... When we harbored grudges and planned revenge for defeats, we were really beating ourselves with the club of anger we had intended to use on others." - pp. 58, 'As Bill Sees It'

In a very real geopolitical sense, this "beating (of) ourselves" to be orchestrated by the Bush Administration will be played out on the rest of the world stage as an ever-growing resentment and hatred of what America stands for. Is it a country that will be satisfied by taking the "easier, softer way" of only attacking the effects of terrorism, by going after specific individuals or groups, or will it be willing to also walk the harder, longer road of addressing root causes?

So what does one do with a "raging powerholic"?

Some Americans, including the peaceniks at the MoveOn.org Political Action Committee, are planning an "Intervention" for 2004.


By registering a wave of new voters and raising enough money to compete with "Emperor Dubya's" war chest, they hope such an intervention will be successful.

According to the moveon.org press release:

"President Bush believes he doesn't have to listen to the American public -- which, even during war, has overwhelmingly been skeptical or strongly resistant to the idea of an American empire. He has decided that his faith in the military takes precedence over his faith in democracy. The election in 2004 is our chance to take our democracy back. Polls show overwhelmingly that Americans do not trust President Bush to revive the failing economy. They're just as concerned with the Administration's assault on civil rights, civil liberties and the environment. Last week in New Orleans, Presidential Advisor Karl Rove said that this will be a "close, competitive" race. If all of us get involved, it won't just be tight. We'll win."

As much as peaceniks sometime irk me and my granola-hating self, I do believe they may be onto something here.

Perhaps America DOES need a common cause to bring us all together.

And maybe that cause isn't the "war on terrorism."

You know things have gone from bad to worse when I'm even considering voting for the Democratic presidential candidate in the next election.

Whichever candidate is nominated.

Except Howard Dean.

Like that's going to happen, right? Thanks to Dean's far-left political suicide, at least that's one less thing to worry about.

But I digress.

And I didn't even have time to get into Bush's alleged "energy plan", the jist of which is "more" - more oil and gas pipelines, nuclear power plants, refineries, and public land used for industrial services. This despite the fact of diminishing natural resources and 'global warming' (which Bush finally conceded "maybe possibly" is true, but wants to study the issue further.)

That's what we call "denial".

So the title of this entry was, "Is George W. Bush a 'Raging Powerholic'?"

Gee, you think?



Some of the quotes herein were originally published in:

"Ambling into History" by Frank Bruni

"As Bill Sees It" by Bill Wilson

"Fortunate Son" by J.H. Hatfield

And some material was informed by my reading of:

"The Culture of Fear" by Barry Glassner

posted by Pete 5:25 AM
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