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By Bernard Weiner, The Crisis Paper
"I am delighted to see you again, Mr. President. I thought you might have wanted to talk after the Democratic sweep of Congress, but you never called. So, please, tell me why you are here today."
"Well, I've been having nightmares again, one in particular that keeps coming back and making me anxious and irritable and Laura doesn't like where I'm at; she says I'm depressed and nervous and thinking about drinking again. In our earlier therapy sessions*, you helped me understand what my dreams might be saying, and I felt better. So here I am."
"Let's start with the one that keeps recurring. Please tell me about it."
"I'm living in a huge house on a coastline. Ocean storms have pounded this area regularly, so the house is built on top of thick, high cement posts. A killer hurricane is heading our way and I've decided not to evacuate along with the rest of the local population, but to ride it out to give hope to our neighbors by showing I'm not a coward. But a number of the posts, worn away by the ocean waves, have fallen, especially a few that have held up the corners of the building. Huge rats now have entry through the holes. I realize I'm in a very dangerous situation as the house could collapse. The hurricane winds are shaking the house. I know I should get out of there, but I can't move. A window smashes, a tidal wave of blood pours into the house, rats are racing in." That's when I wake up, sweating and frightened."
"Do any of those images -- the big house, the hurricane, the disappearing posts, the blood, the rats -- resonate with you? Can you attach any meaning to any of them, from your life.?"
"Well, Karl has left. He was my main pillar of strength and inspiration. He's been with me forever, and we talk freely and openly to each other, and now he's no longer here."
"I think you're on the right track. Any other aides that you've depended on that have left?"
"Yeah, a whole bunch. Rumsfeld resigned, and I depended on him a lot. And Dan Bartlett and Harriet Miers and Scooter and Wolfowitz and Alberto -- they're not around anymore either to lean on."
THE TEXAS GROUP IS SCATTERED"So a lot of pillars you've counted on for stability and counsel over the years aren't around any longer; many of those you named have been with you for a long time, going all the way back to your Texas days. How does that make you feel?"
"I feel exposed, more open to attack from my enemies -- maybe those are the rats. My old colleagues and aides bucked me up, validated my gut feelings, made me feel better about myself, gave me strength. Now there's just Dick, and though I lean on him for support all the time, to be honest, he kinda scares me. He should be the one seeing you, I think."
"What makes you say that?"
"He's one tightly wound-up dude, if you know what I mean. He's a seething ball of rage, hardly ever smiles; I try to joke around with him, get him to loosen up, you know, but he's like a pit-bull, teeth showing and focused only on his next attack. That's what makes him so successful in Washington, of course, but he's that way even when he's supposed to be relaxing. No wonder he shot that poor friend of his in the face. I've even seen him drooling, almost foaming at the mouth, sometimes when we're talking about the Democrats or Iran. Gives me the willies."
"But you're the President, you can reign him in, yes?"
"Well, after six and a half years where he's been left more or less to operate on his own, and with that dedicated staff of similar pit bulls -- Scooter, Addington, and so on -- it's a bit difficult to get him to change now. Besides I agree with him on most things, so I guess I just have to get over my nervousness around him. Dick's a force of nature and you just let him loose to roar. Besides, now that the others are gone, I have to rely on him more and more, and he does take the brunt of the political attacks away from me directly."
"Let's see if maybe the Vice President connects at all to your nightmare. There's a huge storm about to hit -- your residence may represent not only the White House but your psyche as well -- and it potentially could take the whole place down, especially since so many of the pillars you used to count on for support are gone. Does that make any sense to you? What kind of storm is coming your way?"
THE PERFECT STORM A-BREWING
"We still have our doctor/patient confidentiality agreement, right? You can't reveal what I say to you?"
"Right. You can feel free to say whatever you like."
"Well, in addition to a lot of political high winds coming our way from Iraq -- even with Gen. Petraeus urging us ahead, the public is increasingly opposed to our staying there -- now we're considering using nuclear bunker-buster bombs on Iran. The aim would be to mess up their atomic labs and arms factories for a decade or more, but we can be sure that such an attack would generate a huge storm of opposition around the world and maybe even some in the U.S. Probably not so much here in Washington, since the Democrats under Reid and Pelosi don't want to appear 'unpatriotic' during wartime, and the mainstream media takes its direction from our spin points. So I might be OK inside the Beltway, but the public reaction in the rest of the country, and abroad, could be intense."
"That's your storm, for sure, and no wonder you're anxious about your ability to survive it, since your most important policy advisors have left you. But the dream seems to indicate that the prudent thing, given the weakness of your support structure, would be to join the rest of the population and evacuate to a safer place until the storm passes through. But in the dream, you don't feel you want to do that because people might think you a 'coward.' There's an alternate explanation: that most people, seeing the perfect storm heading your way, might think you stubborn or foolish."
"Watch your mouth, doc. I'm not a fool! I'm not a loser! Backing down would be an admission that I've made a big mistake, especially with regard to the war, with all that blood spilled. The media and the Democrat Party -- hey, they're probably the rats in my dream! -- would unite to bring me down. No, I'm going to show them all. Dick and me, we'll continue attacking our enemies here and abroad, and they'll all realize someday that I was right all along. I'm not going to let the namby-pamby liberal critics, or you, make me doubt myself. God knows I'm doing the right thing. He wouldn't want me to falter."
LOVE AND LEGACIES"I understand what you're saying. But your term is going to come to an end in a little over a year and yet you're still willing to follow the attack-dog strategy of your Vice President, who is even less popular than you because the public believes that his choices have been wrong so often. Why not consider building a more positive legacy? I should think that you might be interested in getting out from under all the heavy criticism you've been enduring for so long, and not letting the Republican political and financial and sexual scandals dominate in the public mind. Legacies really only work if the public buys into them; you will need their good will and support."
"I don't think that the people will ever love me, or that my dad would change his attitudes toward me no matter what I do now. I might as well stick to Karl's ideas of what's worked for us all these years -- full steam ahead, get out of our way if you don't want to be run over."
"But, sir, with all due respect, those ways of operating have brought you psychologically to where you are today: depressed, irritable, not sleeping well, nightmares, more of your staff deserting you, your military advisers in the Pentagon and State and CIA in near-rebellion against your war policies, about as low as you can get in presidential poll numbers, thinking about drinking again -- maybe it's time to reconsider, alter some of your behaviors, get your head together before you explode. If you're willing, I'll be here to work with you."
"You make me feel bad about myself. You don't support what I'm trying to do. I don't care that you're a Pioneer donor to the party and my campaigns. You've crossed the line! You're only interested in your goddamned head-shrinking, poking into my personal life and my psyche. I am the President! I am responsible for the nation, for the world! I'm the Leader! You're mighty close, doc, to being thrown in the clink for treason, making the President doubt himself. Get out of here! I've got a war to run. Dick and I will create our own perfect storm, taking down our enemies and making others sit up and take notice."
"I understand that we've touched some very raw nerves here today. I'll leave. But you know where to find me if and when you'd like to talk about how you can transform yourself, find more peace within yourself, earn more respect from your fellow citizens and the world."
"Leave me alone, just get the f*ck out of my house!" #
*See here ( www.crisispapers.org/essays-w/demons.htm ), here ( www.crisispapers.org/essays6w/shrink.htm ) and here ( www.crisispapers.org/essays6w/postelection.htm ).
Bernard Weiner, Ph.D. and poet-playwright, has written numerous fantasies and satires ( www.crisispapers.org/weinerpubs.htm#fantasies ) about the Bush Administration. He has taught government & international relations at universities in California and Washington, worked as a writer/editor for the San Francisco Chronicle for 19 years, and currently co-edits The Crisis Papers (www.crisispapers.org) .
First published by The Crisis Papers and Democratic Underground 9/11/07.
Copyright 2007 by Bernard Weiner.
Bernard Weiner, Ph.D. in government & international relations, has taught at universities in California and Washington, worked for two decades as a writer-editor at the San Francisco Chronicle, and currently serves as co-editor of The Crisis Papers (more...)