Saturday, June 19, 2004

And Now, Gossip
A couple of weeks ago, I linked to an article on Capitol Hill Blue that described reports of increasingly strange behavior by Bush--paranoia, mood swings, emotional rants, and so on. Earlier this week, CHB followed up with comments from Dr. Justin Frank, director of psychiatry at George Washington University, whose new book, Bush on the Couch, raises similar questions about Our Maximum Leader's mental competence. Salon got into the subject as well earlier this week, reviewing Frank's book and two others purporting to examine the president's head.

There are a couple of problems with all this analysis. First of all, it's hard to learn secondhand what's really going on in someone's mind--any clinician would tell you that firsthand observation is necessary to get truly solid insights. However, a president of the United States is one of the most widely observed people on the planet, so it's certainly possible to get some kind of picture, albeit a blurry one, because some people who make firsthand observations are willing to talk. Which leads to the second problem: Because people with access to the president want to keep their access, whatever firsthand observation of a president you can lay your hands on is usually anonymously sourced, which instantly harms its credibility. The original Capitol Hill Blue piece about Bush was criticized for its exclusive reliance on unnamed sources.

So you should probably read this with many grains of salt at hand. (When you get there, scroll down a bit to the second set of boldface headings: "Walter Storch/Controlling the News/Part 39.") It's yet another anonymously sourced piece, it's two months old (I only just found it today), and it's on an obscure website. But the picture it paints of Bush and his administration is far more frightening than CHB's original article. How much of it is true? Maybe some of it, maybe none of it. So why mention it? Because what if some of it is true?

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