“Dead Certain” a review by Richard Wolffe

Countdownwolffebush "Draper emerges with a treasure trove of detail and anecdotes, but he often doesn’t delve — or isn’t allowed to delve — into the deeper questions. Early in his book Dead Certain, he tells the story of Bush’s failed bid for Congress in 1978. Against all the best advice, Bush decided to run against a conservative West Texas Democrat, Kent Hance. He lost badly, but not embarrassingly. Explaining his decision to Draper, he said, "You can’t learn lessons by reading. Or at least I couldn’t. I learned by doing. I knew it was an uphill struggle. But see, I’ve never had a fear of losing. I didn’t like to lose. But having parents who give you unconditional love, I think it means I had the peace of mind to know that even with failure, there was love."  Wolffe reviewing "Dead Certain."


Wolffe is a very clever man.  He and Olberman "play" well together.  Wolffe remains essentially European in his manifested attitudes.  His casual dismissal of the behaviour of Royal Navy and Royal Marine people in Iranian captivity as "meaningless" had much about it that most Americans would not approve.  We would not tolerate that behavior in our forces.

Nevertheless, his review of this book points to a couple of interestin’ thangs about Dubya.

Bush’s insistence that he reads a lot and his statement that one can not learn from reading are mutually exclusive, I think.  I am reliant on a few things the Army taught me.  One of these was the Myers-Briggs personality indicator classification system.  This system has been useful to me in understanding people I meet and work with.  Dubya hates tests like that and also hates talk about it.  That is a typical reaction of several of the grous classified under the test.

I don’t think he is lying in the ridiculous statement about "learning."  I think that he is (in MB terms) A "Sensory-Perceptive" (SP) type.  This groups typically does not learn much by reading and is quite capable of holding two mutually exclusive views at the same time.  About 50% of the American public belong to this broad group.  Look it up.

Then there is the matter of "unconditional love."  There is very little of that in the world.  Rational beings may SAY that they love without condition, but it is not usually true.  I suppose there are parents who will love a child who is a sadistic child molester and murderer, but they must be few.  In fact, only dogs love unconditionally, at least until they meet Michael Vick.

That kind of statement from Bush reveals how much he needs to be loved.  that probably points to something less than "unconditional love" in his past.  Perhaps that is why he needs to surround himself with adoring women.

This "biography" of Bush reinforces my belief that he will never, never, never give up in Iraq.  Never.  pl


There ought to  be a lot of room in this post for enraged comment by loving parents and defenders of Her Majesty’ Forces.

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55 Responses to “Dead Certain” a review by Richard Wolffe

  1. Leila says:

    I’m a parent and I don’t object to your analysis at all. I love my children and yet I cannot love everything they do. THey’re children, they do some bratty, crude, cruel things.
    And God forbid one of them should grow up to commit heinous acts. I don’t know what I would do or feel. I have relatives who grew up to become extremely difficult to love. I could remember them in their babyhood, darling and lovable, and yet see their sad adulthood for what it was.

  2. Bobo says:

    As a parent “Unconditional Love” is the norm. No matter how much the child irritates you or how deep they sink in their life you have to be there to pick them up and steer them in the right direction and that is part of it. Even Michael Vicks Mother is there for her son to turn to in his time of need and please do not use any psychobabble to fault her for her sons depravity.
    As to Her Majesty’s Forces, yes their actions looked very immature during their captivity. As my 88 year old father, who spent a good amount of time in various Stalags, says alot of strange things happen to a mans mind (I guess women too) in captivity, so pass it off to a new generations way of dealing with the stress. Dodo happens.
    As to reading books, I’m a little shellshocked at the quote. I’m sure he learned a little as a young man reading comic books, you can see it in his devilish manner.

  3. alnval says:

    Col. Lang:
    I enjoyed your comments about Draper’s book and the inferences that might be implied by it. Your take on the Myers-Briggs was particularly interesting. Given that you’ve guessed at Bush’s placement on the sensing/intuitive and perception/judgment dimensions, what’s your take on the introvert/extrovert and thinking/feeling dimensions? I assume that his overt public facade conceals introversion but I’m not quite as sure about thinking versus feeling.

  4. W. Patrick Lang says:

    It is, of course, debatable but I think him an ESTP.
    In the interest of full disclosure I am an INTP. pl

  5. W. Patrick Lang says:

    I don’t think that your dad’s experience as a PW is relevant. He was probably in the “jug” more than a few days.
    It will be interesting to know how many believe in unconditional parental love. How about treason to Queen and Country?
    The Myers- Briggs test is hardly psycho-babble. What’s your type? Yours sounds like a familiar reaction. pl

  6. Leila says:

    I’m an INFP or an ENFP depending on the day you interview me. (I/E scores right down the middle – I’m ambidextrous that way)
    I think if I’d been an INTP or ENTP I would have published my first novel by age thirty instead of still toiling away, in scattered bursts natch, at age 45.

  7. alnval says:

    Col. Lang:
    As one INTP to another, I can only admire your judgment! ESTP works nicely. Thinking of it from a different psychological perspective it functions as the public container for Bush’s primary narcissism. Alas, despite clear and cost-effective success in personnel selection, psychological understanding, explanation and prediction have had little practical value in the rough and tumble world of public politics.
    Thanks again for your comments about Draper’s book.

  8. jonst says:

    Good insight I believe, when you write:
    >>>>>>That kind of statement from Bush reveals how much he needs to be loved. that probably points to something less than “unconditional love” in his past. Perhaps that is why he needs to surround himself with adoring women<<< I don't buy the unconditional love stuff but then I am not a parent. However, it is simply not what i have observed in people. But lets assume the stories of Bush challenging his father, more than one time, so i hear, to go mano e mano, are true. That would be test for me for I could no more imagine I could challenge my father to fight (whether I could beat him, or not was beside the point---and for the record I could not---)than I could fly to Mars on my own power. It always struck me as odd, very odd, that Bush is alleged to repeat, with gusto, the story. To do it is bad enough...to spread the story far and wide has always seemed to me, perverse and revealing.

  9. lina says:

    If you want to talk psycho-babble, then clearly GWB’s entire political profile reeks of “daddy issues.”
    1. Daddy didn’t invade Baghdad; Jr. invades Baghdad.
    2. Daddy is an internationalist; Jr. likes to “go it alone.”
    3. Daddy is a blue blood from Connecticut; Jr. adopts Texas as his home and develops a fake accent.
    The list can go on from here. Plus, let us not forget the man is an alcoholic who stays off the sauce via Jesus. There’s a whole lot of stuff in this guy’s psyche that trumps Myers-Briggs.
    If ever there was a kid who did NOT feel unconditionally loved, it is our dear leader. You can’t grow up to be this kind of nut job (and follow the advice of Dick Cheney) if you had a loving childhood.

  10. Bobo says:

    PL or INTP
    “An INTP insulted, however, has a tendency to unveil their full mastery of logical intuition. Many a previously self-assured individual has withered under the full brunt of an INTP’s tirade of sharply edged, piercing remarks, which frequently do not fall short of the person’s every weakness and hidden fault. After such an incident, the INTP is as likely to be as devastated as the recipient; they have broken the rules of debate and exposed their irrational emotions. This to an INTP is the crux of the problem: emotions are to be dealt with in a logical manner, as improperly handled they can only harm”

  11. sbj says:

    Not to over-indulge in pop-psychology stuff, but with respect to “The Decider”, I find these diagnostic criteria for Narcissitic Personality disorder (From the DSM IV), to be quite apt.
    “Proposed Amended Criteria for the Narcissistic Personality Disorder
    Feels grandiose and self-important (e.g., exaggerates accomplishments, talents, skills, contacts, and personality traits to the point of lying, demands to be recognised as superior without commensurate achievements)
    Is obsessed with fantasies of unlimited success, fame, fearsome power or omnipotence, unequalled brilliance (the cerebral narcissist), bodily beauty or sexual performance (the somatic narcissist), or ideal, everlasting, all-conquering love or passion.
    Firmly convinced that he or she is unique and, being special, can only be understood by, should only be treated by, or associate with, other special or unique, or high-status people (or institutions).
    Requires excessive admiration, adulation, attention and affirmation – or, failing that, wishes to be feared and to be notorious (Narcissistic Supply).
    Feels entitled. Demands automatic and full compliance with his or her unreasonable expectations for special and favourable priority treatment.
    Is “interpersonally exploitative”, i.e., uses others to achieve his or her own ends.
    Devoid of empathy. Is unable or unwilling to identify with, acknowledge, or accept the feelings, needs, preferences, priorities, and choices of others.
    Constantly envious of others and seeks to hurt or destroy the objects of his or her frustration. Suffers from persecutory (paranoid) delusions as he or she believes that they feel the same about him or her and are likely to act similarly.
    Behaves arrogantly and haughtily. Feels superior, omnipotent, omniscient, invincible, immune, “above the law”, and omnipresent (magical thinking). Rages when frustrated, contradicted, or confronted by people he or she considers inferior to him or her and unworthy.”
    More on NPD from this somewhat strange website.

  12. Bobo says:

    Type INTJ

  13. rjj says:

    I always thought the first words to be taught in a human psychology course should be “context,” “contingency,” “contradiction” and “paradox.”
    Not only do we frequently hold two mutually exclusive views at the same, most of the time both of them are wrong.
    Reality is unwieldly. It is also an acquired taste.
    WRT MB — for me IP is clear and consistent, the answers to the S/N and T/F questions are aways “both” (depends on situation and knowledge/expertise). Has anybody ever tracked MB typologies over time – does life experience change one’s cognitive MO?

  14. Grimgrin says:

    If anyone wants to watch the interaction between Wolffe and Olbermann it’s in this clip. It makes me curious though, what kind of RPG’s have a range of 6000 feet?
    As for the Meyers-Briggs issue, I tend to score as an INTJ.
    I’ve been able to see one fairly major blind spot in personality tests. Unless they’re administered by a very perceptive individual, they tend to test an individual’s perception of themselves rather than how they really behave. One of my nicknames during school for example was ‘Powderkeg’, which seems slightly at odds with my Meyers-Briggs personality type description.
    I don’t know if anyone’s done a study where they compared an individual’s Myers-Briggs score to how that individual was scored by friend’s or co workers, but I suspect that you’d get very different scores for the same individual.

  15. rjj says:

    Apologies. My previous post was off-topic. Am more interested in what makes Chancellor Cheney tick. I can’t believe our POTUS Otiosus** is the prime mover of the regime.
    ** http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deus_absconditus

  16. pbrownlee says:

    Why has it taken so long for this to become THE M-B Blog? At leaast as it applies to global military affairs.
    An old friend of mine casually (!) gets new clients to do a 100 question M-B assessment and will not work with awkward types.
    Any other ENTJs? And are M-Bers wildly over-represented here?

  17. rjj says:

    “Unless they’re administered by a very perceptive individual, they tend to test an individual’s perception of themselves rather than how they really behave.”
    Don’t the many variations on the questions control for self-deception and delusion?
    Friends and coworkers versions of anyone are projections. They would work like a thematic apperception test.
    According to the velcro model of human interaction, [most of the time] we only perceive and process qualities that correspond to our own. Those that do not, fail to register.

  18. Will says:

    a close reading of the wiki article on Meyers-Briggs Typology cleared up a misapprehension. It is ExtrAvert not ExtrOvert and refers to Action while Inrovert refers to prefering ReAction.

    People with a preference for Extraversion draw energy from action: they tend to act, then reflect, then act further. If they are inactive, their level of energy and motivation tends to decline. Conversely, those whose preference is Introversion become less energized as they act: they prefer to reflect, then act, then reflect again. People with Introversion preference need time out to reflect to rebuild energy.
    The terms Extravert and Introvert are used in a special sense when discussing Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. Note that “Extravert” is even spelled differently from what is usually seen. Someone with a clear E preference is not necessarily a party animal or a show-off, any more than someone clearly preferring I is necessarily shy, retiring and unsociable”
    Googling Dumbya and the Meyers-Briggs Typology reveals hardly a consensus
    President George W. Bush ISTJ
    Vice President Dick Cheney ENFP –

  19. James Pratt says:

    Is the story about a sister of George Bush passing away after an illness true? I read that George Senior and Barbara Bush played a full 18 holes of golf after the funeral, then came home and told the surviving five chidren that they must never speak of their late sister again. That struck me as cold.

  20. Jose says:

    I always thought Bush was a Mercurial Personality Type, check this link:
    The only exception is #6.
    Very interesting post, does this mean we all agree that that something is not right with GW? lmao

  21. 4 billion says:

    “..the behaviour of Royal Navy and Royal Marine people in Iranian captivity as “meaningless” had much about it that most Americans would not approve. We would not tolerate that behavior in our forces.”
    So you expect your armed forces to undertake suicidal battles?
    I was talking to an Australian Vietnam vet. the other day. On one occasion he advised his commanding officer to retreat from their position, in the face of oncoming, overwhelming force, due to the fact that they had run out of ammunition. On return to main base, he was spat upon, abused, denied food by our American allies.
    This story and your criticism of the British behaviour reveal a dangerous zealotary in the American psyche.
    It is irrational and insane to expect people to fight in situations where there is utterly no chance of victory.
    Sun Tzu would be laughing in his grave.

  22. I haven’t read the book, but I did hear an interview with the author on the radio. One of the interesting Bush quotes he conveyed is that Bush hopes to fill the family coffers (I quote from memory) after he leaves office.
    “Everyone’s doing it,” the author says is Bush’s reasoning for. I know Clinton and others make lots of bucks speaking after leaving office, but to have it put so bluntly and so obviously unabashedly shows the depth of this guy’s notion of “service to the country.”
    Of course, I am in the process of writing about Bush’s Judas/demonic qualities, so what do I know?

  23. Montag says:

    Bush WAS given unconditional love, in that his Daddy pulled strings to get him into the Champagne Squadron of the Texas Air National Guard and used his influence to help him to “fail upwards” in business. Someone has always been there to bail him out.
    When he was Governor of Texas Bush promised to restructure the School Tax System to get it off the backs of the homeowners. When he realized this couldn’t be done in the four months that the Legislature meets every two years, he came up with a face-saving gesture of raising the Homestead Exemption from $5,000 to $15,000–which meant the School Districts had to raise the tax rate to offset it. Having gotten four balls and walked to First Base, Bush then did a victory dance as if he’d hit the home run he’d been boasting about. Sad.
    The Unibomber’s family showed him unconditional love, too. They turned him in when they discovered his identity. They still love him, but they refused to become complicit in any further terrorist acts.

  24. Sidney O. Smith III says:

    In 1994, David Ronfeldt prepared a Rand study for the CIA entitled Beware the Hubris-Nemesis Complex: A Concept for Leadership Analysis. This Rand study appears apropos, since immediately following shock and awe Bush claimed that he heard God talking to him.
    Also in light of the fact that Bush mentioned “unconditional love”, I offer for consideration the following for a psychological profile.
    1. Bush’s Mission Accomplished scene, where he dressed exactly like his father when his father was a true WWII hero, e.g. Bush43 dressed up as a fighter pilot aboard an aircraft carrier.
    2. As the Iraqi nightmare became apparent, Bush41 created a father-son relationship with Bill Clinton as they spent much time traveling around the world on humanitarian issues. I believe Clinton even mentioned how Bush41 was like a father to him.
    3. Bush41 publicly cried at some international conference when the Iraqi disaster was brought up. Unconscious msg could have been that he was ashamed of his son.
    Freudians may disagree but I simply offer the following for consideration. Bush remains entangled in his family dynamic. And within the family dynamic he desperately wanted his father’s approval but never felt that he received it.
    My only concern is if Bush’s mindset could endanger Americans and other people in the world. And I simply note that some people who believe they never received “unconditional love” can turn extremely self destructive at an unconscious level. (This is most easily seen among teenagers).
    So, following this line of thinking, odds increase he’ll attack Iran.

  25. W. Patrick Lang says:

    4 billion
    The moniker is funny. What? 4 billion people whom you are standing up for?
    I guess there was an Australian battalion in VN. The only one I ever met was a Sgt Major. He spent most of his time telling us how great he was.
    I presume that you are some sort of pacifist from the comment. That makes you unqualified to talk about what is needed in war. pl

  26. W. Patrick Lang says:

    “extrAvert” versus “extrOvert.” So what? pl

  27. Grimgrin says:

    Australia sent 50,000 soldiers to Vietnam out of a population of 15 million or so. Given that all of NATO took a pass on sending troops it seems a bit unseemly to be running down Australia’s contribution.
    For the record, I’m not a pacifist, I just don’t think it’s good policy to ask soldiers to die when there’s really no clear gain to be had by their deaths.
    And as for shameful behavior I can’t see anything shameful about surrendering or withdrawing when the alternative is to die pointlessly. Well, okay, it reflects poorly on the people who planned the mission and left those soldiers and marines in a position where they could be surrounded by gunboats. But I can’t see the decision to surrender as anything but sensible.
    How they behaved when they were in captivity is another question, depending on what your views on cooperating with your captives are. Even then the argument was that they were following orders on how to behave if taken prisoner.
    I’d say that the scramble for book deals and media appearances after they were released was the shameful part.

  28. HAK says:

    There is a big difference between “unconditional love” and the indulgence of a spoiled brat. We in the UK can count ourselves fortunate that Mark Thatcher never decided to pursue a career in politics.

  29. confusedponderer says:

    It reminds me of the Book ‘Bush on the Couch’, by Justin A. Frank, who makes a ‘from a distance leader assessment’, much as the CIA does for foreign leaders. If you want to feel apprehensive, read that book.
    And I find the mere idea that that one says he doesn’t learn from reading creepy. I think that for a thinking human being it is nearly inevitable to learn at least something from reading.

  30. Grimgrin says:

    rjj: I don’t think so. If someone thinks of themselves as rational for example, it will bias their answer to any question that is noticeably about whether they behave rationally or not.
    Speaking of the velcro theory, a study where people answer for themselves and people they know would be an interesting way to test it. You’d expect people to come up with M-B scores for others similar to their own.
    if Col. Lang doesn’t object,
    Fill this test out about yourself, and other denizens of the forum and send the results to my e-mail ( red.grimgrin@gmail.com ) I’ll post the unscientific results as they come in.

  31. Walrus says:

    Sid, A great book on management head hunting explains the Jungian father/son relationship.
    Kids either rebel, compete or conform, or a combination of all three it’s deeply engrained in our genes to do what our father did – and our vision of what that is is actually fixed at the age of about Five years old.
    Very few of the male population avoid these traps and truly become “Their own Man”, aware of what has motivated and in control of their persona.
    You see it everywhere in public and private life. The son of a judge who becomes a criminal (take that Daddy!) The poor kid who has a brain damaged alcoholic father and who grows up to be a neuropsychiatrist specialising in the treatment of – brain damaged alcoholics.
    I see it a lot.
    In the case of Bush, he is in eternal competition with his father – and losing, which is psychological death for him. Thats why he physically cannot bring himself to admit that Iraq is a clusterf***. What scares me is the possibility that he will attack Iraqn to become a “Two war President” in an effort to beat his Father.
    To put it another way, when Bush talks about his “legacy” he is actually talking about it compared to his Fathers legacy.
    Col. Lang, I’ll let your comment about the Australians in Vietnam pass. Sufficient to say we held down a province with a Battalion for most of the war. Our guys got a years training, then a year in Vietnam and they generally knew what they were doing.

  32. pbrownlee says:

    Presumably that Aussie SM was not at Long Tan:
    “A US Presidential Unit Citation (PUC) was awarded to D Company 6RAR, by President Lyndon B. Johnson on May 28, 1968, for the unit’s actions at Long Tan. The text of the citation reads as follows:
    ‘By virtue of the authority invested in me as the President of the United States and as Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the United States, I have today awarded the Presidential Unit Citation (Army) for extraordinary heroism to D Company, Sixth Battalion, The Royal Australian Regiment, The Australian Army.
    ‘D Company distinguished itself by extraordinary heroism while engaged in military operations against an opposing armed force in Vietnam on August 18, 1966.
    ‘While searching for Viet Cong in a rubber plantation northeast of Ba Ria, Phuoc Tuy, Province, Republic of Vietnam, D Company met and immediately engaged in heavy contact. As the battle developed, it became apparent that the men of D Company were facing a numerically superior force. The platoons of D Company were surrounded and attacked on all sides by an estimated reinforced enemy battalion using automatic weapons, small arms and mortars. Fighting courageously against a well armed and determined foe, the men on D Company maintained their formations in a common perimeter defence and inflicted heavy casualties on the Viet Cong.
    ‘The enemy maintained a continuous, intense volume of fire and attacked repeatedly from all directions. Each successive assault was repulsed by the courageous Australians. Heavy rainfall and low ceiling prevented any friendly close air support during the battle. After three hours of savage attacks, having failed to penetrate the Australian lines, the enemy withdrew from the battlefield carrying many dead and wounded, and leaving 245 Viet Cong dead forward of the defence positions of D Company.
    ‘The conspicuous courage, intrepidity and indomitable courage of D Company were to the highest tradition of military valour and reflect great credit upon D Company and the Australian Army.
    ‘Soldiers posted to D Company 6RAR still wear the PUC on their uniforms.”
    Quoted at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Long_Tan
    Not to be cofused with “Brooklyn’s Premiere Thai Food Restaurant and Bar.
    Located at 196 Fifth Avenue, Park Slope Brooklyn (between Union & Berkley)” – http://www.long-tan.com
    There is (was?) an Asian restaurant in western Sydney called My Lai…

  33. W. Patrick Lang says:

    You have to be as good at “taking it” as you are at dishing it out.
    In re the PUC. This is the equivalent of an individual being awarded the Distinguished Service Cross. I was in MACVSOG which was also awarded the PUC.
    I wasn’t denigrating Australia in VN. We wished there had been more of you around. pl

  34. Will says:

    So what? It was a misconception of mine, and I probably wrongly assumed it was widespread. And being a “Teacher” wished to “didacticate.”
    EtrAvert refers to drawing energy from initiating action not to social affability. According to the article an extrAvert may be a social wallflower, tho it seems unlikey.
    Once you start reading- Myers-Briggs on steriods
    see the wiki article on
    The Col. is an “Architect”
    according to Keirsey
    from the wiki
    “David Keirsey developed the Temperament Sorter after being introduced to MBTI by a friend; however, Keirsey traces the idea of temperament back to the ancient Greeks. Hippocrates, a Greek medic who lived from 460-377 B.C., proposed the four humours, which are related to the four temperaments. These were named and promoted by Galen: sanguine, choleric, phlegmatic, and melancholic. Keirsey developed a modern temperament theory in his books Please Understand Me (1978) and Please Understand Me II (1998). By reading Isabel Myers’ very brief portraits of sixteen types of high school students, which were based on Isabel’s observations of real individuals in conjunction of her understanding of Jung’s eight types, Keirsey found that by combining Sensing with the perceiving functions, (SP and SJ), and iNtuition with the judging functions, (NF and NT), he had descriptions similar to his four temperaments. Keirsey originally named the temperaments after Greek gods Dionysius, Apollo, Prometheus, and Epimetheus. Recognizing the temperaments from Ernst Kretchmer’s descriptions of four forms of madness, he developed the positive aspects and named the temperaments after the mythological gods, but later renamed them, for clarity, as Artisan, Idealist, Rational, and Guardian in his book Portraits of Temperament (1987).” ”

  35. jonst says:

    Always struck by the use of the term “psycho-babble”. As opposed to military-babble? Or polit-babble? Or scientific-babble? Or econo-babble?

  36. Will says:

    Keirsey has classified the first forty presidents.
    Although there is no full blown analysis on Dumbya, he is identified as an Artisan (which is the SP group which the Colonel had ALSO placed him) and further placed in the class of Operator, that is SPT
    Which leaves the possibilities under the class
    Operator (STP) of
    Expediting Promoter (ESTP): or Persuading
    Crafter (ISTP): Instrumenting
    Promoter Snake-Oil Salesman fits my “mind’s-eye” image of Dumbya.

  37. Sidney O. Smith III says:

    Hey Walrus
    In my opinion, your profile of Bush looks right on target.
    It’s a fascinating psychological dynamic you describe. I am aware of a case where a son of a probation officer took a 12 gauge shotgun, jumped in a car and then, at random, shot a Hispanic in the back. The shotgun blast tore off the skull of the man, killing him. (the kid – around 20 yrs old — got much more than probation — he‘s gone for life).
    It just looks like to me that Prez Bush never left the family dynamic that you would normally see in a kid. That Mission Accomplish scene was ridiculous. Actually, he looked like a five year old.
    If you are right and Bush is fighting a losing psychological battle, then this dynamic is only going to get worse until the dynamic is broken. In other words, first Iraq, then Iran.
    I am no scholar, but I have tried to plug Bush’s presidency into the classic dramatic structure of a Greek tragedy, simply in an attempt to understand the guy a little better. I found it enlightening.
    From what I can tell, a plotline of a Greek tragedy is propelled forward through hubris and includes a reversal of fortune (peripeteia) as well as some type of self revelation (anagnorisis) that appears too late to change fate or destiny. Hence the tragedy.
    And you may have identified the “anagnorisis” . Bush is fighting a losing psychological battle against his father. When Bush realizes it, it will be too late because much of the Middle East will be in flames.
    Does not bode well for the USA.

  38. bstr says:

    Polit-babble: Talking Heads
    Polit-rabble: The tendency of the people to follow madmen.

  39. pw says:

    The UK has some excellent training available for personnel prone to capture. None of the Marines and sailors actually captured had received any. There’s no money to fund giving it outside the exclusive few who get it at the moment, and no way to release scarce bodies for it without missing manning targets. So the behaviour we saw varied markedly depending on background and maturity. Most were fine, but they weren’t the ones written about.
    The decision to allow those concerned to talk to the press was political, taken by a party that prizes spin over facts. It soon spun out of control and the military were convenient scapegoats when it became clear it wasn’t such a good idea as previously thought.
    As to the capture, the Brits were in an unarmed boat smaller than many the public drive about in at weekends; had no onboard sensors whatsoever; with a mother ship designed to sink Russian subs in the North Atlantic that was far too large to get near land and consequently out of sight; with no air cover (vicious rumour was that it was on a publicity filming trip – regardless a ship that can operate two helos was only equipped with one); armed only with rifles which the sailors on board see once a year on a 25m range. A larger heavily armed vessel suited to the local conditions drifted up, gave them a good view down the muzzles of their main armament and requested that they come along.
    Personally I feel the Officer concerned did the right thing by surrendering – getting himself and everyone else killed to no advantage is not how to win wars.

  40. McGee says:

    Haven’t had time to post in a bit and wanted to add something to this (as always) fascinating thread. From everything I’ve heard and read about GWB’s mom doubt that she is capable of much love of any sort, let alone the unconditional sort. Unconditional pain-in-the-butt to her kids and husband perhaps, which could of course be interpreted as love by an insecure child.

  41. Leigh says:

    This is fascinating. Wish I had time to delve into Meyers-Brigg, but alas…
    I am just curious as to how Bush explains going for his MBA. Does anyone, anywhere teach it other than through books?

  42. Cloned Poster says:

    I was in Londonium over the past few days and I visited the Coluseum at O2 the mobile phone army that supports the UFC, my son dragged me there. In the meantime I read Imperium by Robert Harris about when the Romans went for Emperator status…. worth a read PL on your next holiday.

  43. Just an ex grunt says:

    Could one contributing factor in W’s development, that he was not he “favored son” (and possibly by a wide margin), be the root of his insecurity?
    I’ve long suspected this key in understanding Bushes behaviour, and would appreciate your thoughts on that.
    HW was crying about Jebs
    career. I suspect it possible events related to W might factor in there as well.

  44. Walrus says:

    I once worked for an IT company that, as a matter of policy, put its entire workforce through a five day residential course on neurolinguistics and Myers Briggs (I’m an ESTJ).
    When we had meetings, we would start be getting everyone’s MBTI on the table, and generally their contributions to the discussion mirrored their MBTI.
    I’ve always treasured that training because it has been so useful. If I want to, I can deliberately screw with someones mind and they don’t even know I’m doing it.
    As for the British, they were caught completely off guard and did the right thing under the circumstances.
    Comparisons between British and American behaviour under such circumstances are, in my opinion, irrelevent because Americans wouldn’t have put themselves in such a situation, or if they did, they would have been loaded for Bear and would of course then fight back.
    P.S. The course here was called “Code of Conduct” I signed up for it, but was then convinced by my Commanding Officer that doing it was definitely NOT a good idea at the time, because it was “real” enough to have occasionally produced permanent mental casualities.

  45. Matthew says:

    Col: In the law, you meet this character all the time–he tells you about how much he values “loyalty” and “honesty,” meaning he has neither. I have always found it strange that Bush missing the irony of his public puff-ifications about his self-confident and self-direction. He is just crying out for a hug.

  46. JoeC says:

    Having had the unpleasent experience (believe me)of having Bush in my boarding high school class, I would note that while he was popular within his (jock) clique, he did not otherwise stand out in any positive way (many negatives, however). His father had attended the same boarding school and several of our active faculty members had taught his father. I remember that they spoke very highly (as in walked on water) of his father across a range of perspectives (athletics, etc.) While I don’t recall ever hearing comments by faculty about any other former students, Bush senior was definitely “on the radar”. I am sure that this was yet another contributing factor to his behavior – competing with/showing up his father has always seemed to me to be a major (the major?) motivating factor in his presidency.

  47. rjj says:

    WRT The Leader: Chris Matthews has redeemed himself by asking an important question.
    “Why a clueless megalomaniac?”

  48. Montag says:

    General Douglas MacArthur’s son changed his name and became a professional musician. He came from a long and distinguished military family and just didn’t feel like spending his life competing with his father’s legend. Well, good for him! Oliver Cromwell’s son Richard did the same after briefly carrying the sceptre of Lord Protector and finding it too heavy for comfort. Better to live a long and happy life as your own man than to try to live the life prescribed for you by others.

  49. David W says:

    I’m late to this thread, however, I stumbled across this link on the web today, from The Rape of the Mind: The Psychology of Thought Control, Menticide, and Brainwashing by Joost A. M. Meerloo, M.D
    Here are some relevant exerpts:
    The Totalitarian Leader
    The leaders of Totalitaria are the strangest men in the state. These men are, like all other men, unique in their mental structure, and consequently we cannot make any blanket psychiatric diagnosis of the mental illness which motivates their behavior. But we can make some generalizations which will help us toward some understanding of the totalitarian leader. Obviously, for example, he suffers from an overwhelming need to control other human beings and to exert unlimited power, and this in itself is a psychological aberration, often rooted in deep-seated feelings of anxiety, humiliation, and inferiority. The ideologies such men propound are only used as tactical and strategical devices through which they hope to reach their final goal of complete domination over other men. This domination may help them compensate for pathological fears and feelings of unworthiness, as we can conclude from the psychological study of some modern dictators.

    Psychological analysis of these men shows clearly that a pathological culture — a mad world — can be built by certain impressive psychoneurotic types. The venal political figures need not even comprehend the social and political consequences of their behavior. They are compelled not by ideological belief, no matter how much they may rationalize to convince themselves they are, but by the distortions of their own personalities. They are not motivated by their advertised urge to serve their country or mankind, but rather by an overwhelming need and compulsion to satisfy the cravings of their own pathological character structures.

    The ideologies they spout are not real goals; they are the cynical devices by which these sick men hope to achieve some personal sense of worth and power. Subtle inner lies seduce them into going from bad to worse. Defensive self-deception, arrested insight, evasion of emotional identification with others, degradation of empathy — the mind has many defense mechanisms with which to blind the conscience.

    His attitude toward other people is manipulative; to him, they are merely tools for the advancement of his own interests. He rejects the conception of doubt, of internal contradictions, of man’s inborn ambivalence. He denies the psychological fact that man grows to maturity through groping, through trial and error, through the interplay of contrasting feelings. Because he will not permit himself to grope, to learn through trial and error, the dictator can never become a mature person. But whether he acknowledges them or not, he has internal conflicts, he suffers somewhere from internal confusion. These inner “weaknesses” he tries to repress sternly; if they were to come to the surface, they might interfere with the achievement of his goals. Yet, in the attacks of rage his weakening strength is evident.

    It is because the dictator is afraid, albeit unconsciously, of his own internal contradictions, that he is afraid of the same internal contradictions of his fellow men. He must purge and purge, terrorize and terrorize in order to still his own raging inner drives. He must kill every doubter, destroy every person who makes a mistake, imprison everyone who cannot be proved to be utterly single-minded. In Totalitaria, the latent aggression and savagery in man are cultivate by the dictator to such a degree that they can explode into mass criminal actions shown by Hitler’s persecution of minorities. Utlimately, the country shows a real pathology, an utter dominance of destructive and self-destructive tendencies.
    The twist is this is not some new blog, but from a book last published in 1956! As the site notes, ‘of course, the technology has advanced and the techniques have been refined, but the principles remain the same.’
    A fascinating read, uncanny in its prescience, imo.

  50. Much to my surprise we inch close to the territory of one of my fields of informed interest, organizational behavior. Alas, I would count as a critic of the MBTI and most reductive assessment tools. But, what the heck, there are all sorts of instruments I’d subject Mr. Bush to were this some ideal world where leadership is assessed rigorously before elevated to places where personal psychology can cause more mayhem than absolutely is necessary.
    Google or journal search “Manfred Kets De Vries,” who ‘s psychiatric training and many decades research in the nature of executive leaders makes his work essential in understanding the problem of, as he has put it, ‘the rot at the top.’
    (My guess: Bush is ISFJ, but of importance from the perspective of the Analytic Psychology (C.G.Jung) is the thrust of the inferior functions NT by way of the unconscious. In the terms of this wooly old school perspective, Bush’s inflation and Messianic nature express his *unconscious* over-identification with the “God-boy,” (i.e. world historical leader!) and this is in line with what’s termed the psychology of the Puer Aeternus. (See Puer Aeturnus by M.L. von Franz.)
    Incidentally, some would say we, some part of the collective, tend to grant leadership to the most fit containers for our collective unconscious wishes, projections.
    Mileage may very here in (my) dragging old fashioned depth psychological views into the mix here. Grain of salt necessary.
    From a cognitive-evaluative perspective, some people are not very cognitively complex, which means they aren’t very resourceful, oft not able to put themselves in other person’s shoes, and sometimes more prone to bias errors. Two common types of such errors are errors of attribution and the confirmation bias. Both are commonly encountered in the world of spin and policy rhetoric.

  51. Sidney O. Smith III says:

    Just an Ex Grunt:
    In my opinion, the event you mentioned — Bush41 publicly anointing Jeb — appears highly relevant to me. I recall when it took place. This event certainly warrants a scene on the template of a classic Greek tragedy. Its placement is before the reversal of fortune. And, yes, I do believe that we may be heading into the first Greek tragedy to take place in the global village. So I find studying the archetype of a Greek tragedy as a worthwhile technique to determine Bush43’s character and intent. I am working on the assumption that the Greeks may know how to save us from disaster, but I am no scholar.
    If you try to look at the event you mentioned through the eyes of Bush43, the sub textual msg is that Bush41, the father, tried to do everything to help Bush43 but he didn’t listen to his advice (to ISG). So, whether intentionally or not, Bush41 announced to all the world — the setting for our Greek tragedy — that Jeb, not Bush43, is the chosen one of the Bush family dynasty. Bush43 is not his father’s son.
    If Bush41 is not conscious of the significance of that event, then I merely suggest that it had repercussions on him unconsciously. And if you look at him on the telly, it seems that his unconscious is starting to play some tricks on him. If this were a film, a good film director would have Bush act just as he does now to show that the unconscious is playing subtle games with him. Not too overt but definitely present. Check out Bush when he was at the recent conference in Australia. Sub textual msg: Bush43 not oriented.
    My general belief re: psychology probably is consistent with the majority who have posted at this thread. Psychology is really only one tool to use to try to determine character and predict intention. In my opinion, the problem with psychology is that too many people approach psychology as a religion, which it is not. Hence psychobabble. This problem appears particularly acute with secular humanists. Maybe Jung would say that these people are unconsciously projecting the “religious imago” onto this field of study, but I don’t know for sure.
    And I certainly am no expert. The only reason I have read the academic works of primarily Jung and Freud was that several years ago I was working for a screenwriter, who at the time, was one of the best in the world. So — being in the world of screenwriting at the time — I became fascinated in the relationship between psychology and creativity (the royal road to the unconscious) and I attempted to define the psychology underlying particular plotlines. So such came with the territory at the time. I believe Mamet said to read psychology for 4 years.
    It seems to me that in today’s world, psychology is used primarily as a deadly weapon. So, from what I can tell, I am agreeing with the post of David W.
    In that vein, check out the work of David Leo Guttman at AEI. Guttmann is basically promoting (perhaps sub textually) the idea of killing Arabs and not feeling guilt when doing so. It seems to suggest that Guttman is motivated by an ethnic nationalism — one that certainly is a far cry from the work of Martin Buber and his views on the “I and thou” relationship as well as Zionism. And Guttman’s gospel was part and parcel of all the psychologists who basically dictated how to treat prisoners at Gitmo and probably Abu G.
    As an example of someone who, in my opinion, used psychology to help others, I suggest the work of Dr.Robert Coles.
    But again I am not expert. Entirely self taught.
    So, as for Bush43, it all comes down to defining character and predicting intent. For a look into Bush’s character, I think JoeC described it really well in the above post. Bush43 suffers from that great tragic flaw the Greeks warned us against — hubris. Maybe our nation suffers from the same because we elected him.
    As for a true psychological profile, Stephen Calhoun looks like the expert here. From what I could glean from his post, the Rand study on a messianic personality among a leader appears highly, highly apropos.
    BTW, from what I can tell, the Greek tragedy starts with a scene depicting the main character’s greatest success and the first revelation of hubris. I suggest the scene where Bush was at a ME conference and claimed that he heard God speaking to him and God told him to take out Saddam. And then he (not the American people!) took action. Definitely hubris.
    Conclusion re: Bush. Bush43 has the character, psychological profile, and intent to launch a pre-emptive attack on Iran. If so, then America will suffer what the Greeks called the Furies, which may have something to do with fragmentation of society. Others may describe it as 4th generation warfare.

  52. Thanks Ex Grunt. Recommended reading, Will’s Richard III.
    Ex Grunt, I’m to am self-taught with lots of generous help and mentoring over the years since I made a commitment to satisfy my own curiosities, curiosities now worked into professional preoccupations. So, we’ve joined the same club. I’m in favor of authoritative expertise at the same time I’m aware of the fallacy of the appeal to authority!
    By virtue of own prejudices about all I can confidently offer are thought provoking sensings. Any other claims should attach caveat emptor. Anyway…
    Psychologizing people is a great lay person’s parlor game. There’s much I might say about this and about Bush et al. However, in a strict sense, a psychologist seeking a provisional diagnosis would want lots of data. This isn’t available to me and I’m not a diagnostician.
    I’m sure, were Bush to take the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory, the results wouldn’t astonish the professional or folk psychologist.
    (From one’s armchair you can google:
    /narcissism “George W. Bush”/ and have an engrossing afternoon. Make sure you’ve turned your Crap Detector *ON* before you do this.)
    More pertinent to the rich interests here might be commentary about how it is that mediocre-to-dangerous leadership can arise in any organization at any scale, from family to nation.
    Would the modern equivalent of a Thomas Jefferson or James Madison even dare to run in the environment of inanity that prevails today? Tis a thought problem…
    There’s a truism in my field: “The boss may be a sociopath but that’s not enough reason for the the board to fire the boss.” This is a complicated aphorism, of sorts. I’m not a military man. Still, obviously, the nature of leadership at the military scales of group and ‘group tasks’ is a central aspect of prospective success or failure.
    So, I’ll conjure another truism and suggest that a psychologically mature (well-adapted, reality-oriented, flexible, self-critical, etc.) leader is, by virtue of being mature alone, *not* the optimal leader able to inspire pervasive ‘followership.’ That followers will march behind leaders past points of no return toward self-fulfilling bad consequences is a phenomena worth understanding should one ever want to follow anybody, let alone want to be a leader.
    Of course different situations pose different optimals for leadership and followership.
    Novel thought: my own view is that Bush is not causing group think but is caused by the group think. He’s the front guy and the unconscious ‘circuit’ is completed by the meeting of this demand for HIS loyalty, not the other way around. At the level of psyche (ie. personality,) this meeting of his narcissistic needs serves other persons’ agendas; including anti-Constitutional goals, etc. In other words, Mr. Bush is a prime subject for manipulation. He presents, for me, a simulacrum of leadership. This is his role in a very dangerous ‘group psychological’ structure.
    Ponder how unsympathetic the political collective generally is to certain personality features that also are the hallmark of maturity. One such feature is ambivalence, (what Melanie Klein termed the Depressive Position.) Another is assertion of limited knowledge, constraints, to the point of, dare I say, asserting “Not knowing what the best course is.” Another is the inability to implement devil’s advocacy or otherwise order an inquiry by deploying a variety of self-critical perspectives.
    The more I reflect on this the more I come to think that the psychologically mature and the robustly intelligent don’t get to lead nowadays. Consider the body of thought written down by Jefferson prior to his being elected President and how a modern day equivalent of this brilliant body of work probably would disqualify its author for his or her being too brainy! (I know different era…!)
    If we dumb down our society we will race to the bottom of both leadership and democracy’s potential. In my world view, this is a psychological insight in the main. It could lead to lots of those Furies.
    This problem infects all sorts of groups in all sorts of organizations. Is this a problem in the military? Anybody?
    Never stop studying!

  53. Mark K Logan says:

    To Sid and Steve,
    I am “Ex Grunt” Decided to drop the anon.
    There is no reason to be anonymous here.
    Pretty clumsy handle anyway.
    Thanks for the references. A quick googling of the names and
    publications reveals this is not a task of a couple of hours, but
    perhaps several of months, and that Amazon is going to benefit.
    “Never quit studying “- My feelings exactly.
    Perhaps if this subject comes up in the future I can craft a
    worthy response on the greater subject of psychology. But
    I would be remiss if I did not take the time to thank you.
    A little bit about where I’m coming from here:
    After my service ( 8 years from 86 to 94, left as an E7 (0369),
    all deployments disaster areas: (Pinatubo, Somalia), I
    Enrolled in U of Washington. But I only attended 1 1/2 years, as an
    experimental “company” that I founded as a part of my business
    admin. curriculum (intended major) actually succeeded. It swallowed me.
    This subject is of great interest to me, as I view herding Marines
    a skill, and herding employees an art. Doing OK, but have a
    true desire to do better. Had never even heard of the Briggs-Myers
    instrument before now, let alone the various works you have brought
    to my attention.
    To Sid:
    On Bush 41’s crying: Steve mentioned that psycologizing people is the great
    laypersons parlor game. True, but who can resist dabbling?
    To scratch the surface of the “classics” (tongue firmly in cheek),
    “Your failures as a son are my failures as a father.”.
    To get there I make several leaps of faith.
    41’s crying seemed so inappropriate, there has to be more to it.
    41 simply has to know the depths of the tragedy unfolding around 43.
    41 simply has to know that 43 has poisoned the well for Jeb.
    41 simply has to feel guilty, as all parents tend to, over 43’s failures.
    Is that guilt actually justified? Too big a gap. Hamstrings a little tight. I’ll let this one go.
    Does it matter? I think not. Parental guilt needs no logic to exist.
    I think he is quite capable of bombing Iran too. It scares me.
    Thanks very much for the references. They will not be wasted.
    I too have a difficult time imagining Jefferson or Madison lowering
    themselves to the circus of current political discourse. But reading
    some of the political cartoons of the time gives me pause on that.
    It was bare-knuckle back then too. I think if anything would have
    scared they away it’s the idea of speaking in 30 second sound bites,
    and debating “family values”. I rather think they would have
    run away from that! It’s a shame the dream of no parties never
    had a chance.
    I like your idea of the nature of what closes the circuit of loyalty
    that binds these men. I think it may be key to a question that
    baffles me: How does it a man aspires to be POTUS
    and yet delegates the job so thoroughly to others? There may be
    a false underlying assumption in this question. I will read the book this
    thread is based on before pondering it further.
    I thank you guys again.

  54. Altoid says:

    A very interesting approach to bush’s way of being in the world, to which I want to add something from another direction hinted at by Leigh and others. I think it’s far more important than has ever been recognized.
    He has an MBA. He not only has an MBA, his way of working in the world is the way of a certain school of management that I think of as the “hero-manager” or “imperial executive.” Managers of this type are trained that their role is to focus the organization on themselves, make it extol their virtues, break up any centers of possible resistance (which are often centers of organizational competence too). What the organization actually does, how well it performs, is of no importance; maintaining control and glory is the central task.
    The iconic text of these managers is a book called “If It Ain’t Broke, Break It.” Its premise is that organizations get ossified and can’t perform well without being upset out of their routines, which sounds benign enough. But I’ve seen it in action and in the hands that wielded its precepts, it was all about the imperial executive.
    Harvard’s management school puts out a glossy magazine that had plenty of items of this ilk about a dozen years ago. One of these executive types used to circulate copies of some
    items to the circ list I was on. Behind every example of enhanced organizational function was a story of ruthless executive power swatting down even honest doubt.
    This is how bush was trained. It matched his personality, no doubt; hence I don’t question the personality discussion and think a lot of it is right.
    I do suggest that the MBA training validated those personality traits and helped him develop tactics, techniques, and tools for doing what he wanted.
    He has never understood or participated in politics as it’s been known in Washington (which is at least partly based on what the founding folks laid out). Instead he has wanted to manage, ie dominate. For a long time he worked the Senate through another career manager, Bill Frist, who also didn’t understand politics as it existed in DC. Neither got along with the career politicians like Lott or most of the others. And of course the standing rules about glorifying him at all occasions are well-known.
    I think this orientation has made bush completely unfathomable to politicians and to political journalists. Even now they’re trying to figure things out in terms of what Congress will allow him to do given the balance of votes, etc.
    He doesn’t care about that. He cares about the powers he has legitimately and the powers he can use before anyone stops him because he’s the one who defines what his job is and what the organization is. He’s the “definer” as well as the “decider.”
    He regards Congress (and the public) as something like a board of directors, and in his school of management, boards exist to be manipulated, packed, steered, and lied to until they’re compliant. All that matters is that the hero-executive gets his way and gets his glory.
    Compare bush to Chainsaw Al Dunlap and a host of others from the high-flying 90s.
    I’m also fascinated by the way he uses these tools and this approach to try to undo the past 40 or so years of our history. Good catch, Sidney Smith, about his dressing like dad in the “mission accomplished” moment.
    But the family drama is also the national drama if you think of the replay of Vietnam he’s very obviously staging in Iraq. In terms of what he wants everybody to do here in the US, it’s structurally the same as Vietnam. (It’s only everything else that’s different.)
    That he does all this trailing blood and blasted lives, and compulsively hiding behind the uniforms of others, I find completely repulsive. But that may be just me.

  55. Susan in Iowa says:

    This is a fascinating read, and thank you to all who contributed to it. I have no familiarity with psychology, but I do know that Bush always reminded me of a spoiled, thoughtless frat boy, from one of the athletic fraternities. I’ve dated a few, briefly, and felt that they regarded me as potentially useful, but not fully human.
    In the letters section of the Atlantic, I think fall of 2004, there was a series of letters that began with a doctor who wrote that he thought Bush showed signs of early dementia.

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