[R-G] Sullen, Depressed President Retreats Into Private, Paranoid World

Tim Murphy info at cinox.demon.co.uk
Thu Jul 29 12:11:06 MDT 2004


Jul 29, 2004
Capitol Hill Blue
www.capitolhillblue.com

Sullen, Depressed President Retreats Into Private, Paranoid World

By

TERESA HAMPTON & WILLIAM D. McTAVISH
Capitol Hill Blue Staff

A sullen President George W. Bush is withdrawing more and more from aides
and senior staff, retreating into a private, paranoid world where only the
ardent loyalists are welcome.

Cabinet officials, senior White House aides and leaders on Capitol Hill
complain privately about the increasing lack of “face time” with the
President and campaign advisors are worried the depressed President may not
be up to the rigors of a tough re-election campaign.

“Yes, there are concerns,” a top Republican political advisor admitted
privately Wednesday. “The George W. Bush we see today is not the same,
gregarious, back-slapping President of old. He’s moody, distrustful and
withdrawn.”


Bush Walks Alone
Bush’s erratic behavior and sharp mood swings led White House physician Col.
Richard J. Tubb to put the President on powerful anti-depressant drugs after
he stormed off stage rather than answer reporters' questions about his
relationship with indicted Enron executive Richard J. Lay, but White House
insiders say the strong, prescription medications seem to increase Bush’s
sullen behavior towards those around him.

“This is a President known for his ability to charm people one-on-one,” says
a staff member to House Speaker Dennis J. Hastert. “Not any more.”

White House aides say Bush has retreated into a tightly-controlled
environment where only top political advisors like Karl Rove and Karen
Hughes are allowed. Even White House chief of staff Andrew Card complains he
has less and less access to the President.

Among cabinet members, only Attorney General John Ashcroft, a fundamentalist
who shares many of Bush’s strict religious convictions, remains part of the
inner circle. White House aides call Bush and Ashcroft the “Blue Brothers”
because, like the mythical movie characters, “both believe they are on a
mission from God.”

Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge, the man most responsible for waging
America’s war on terrorism, complains to staff that he gets very little time
with the President and gets most of his marching orders lately from
Ashcroft. Some on Ridge’s staff gripe privately that Ashcroft is “Bush’s
Himmler,” a reference to Heinrich Himmler, Chief of the SS (the German
Police) under Adolph Hitler.

“Too many make the mistake of thinking Dick Cheney is the real power in the
Bush administration,” says one senior Homeland Security aide. “They’re
wrong. It’s Ashcroft and that is reason enough for all of us to be very,
very afraid.”

While Vice President Cheney remains part of Bush’s tight, inner circle,
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has fallen out of favor and tells his
staff that “no matter what happens in November, I’m outta here.”

White House aides say the West Wing has been overtaken by a “siege
mentality,” where phone calls and emails are monitored and everyone is under
suspicion for “disloyalty to the crown.”

“I was questioned about an email I sent out on my personal email account
from home,” says one staffer. “When I asked how they got access to my
personal email account, I was told that when I came to work at the White
House I gave up any rights to privacy.”

Another staffer was questioned on why she once dated a registered Democrat.

“He voted for Bush in 2000,” she said, “but that didn’t seem to matter. Mary
Matalin is married to James Carville and that’s all right but suddenly my
loyalty is questioned because a former boyfriend was a Democrat?” Matalin, a
Republican political operative and advisor to the Bush campaign, is the wife
of former Bill Clinton political strategist James Carville.

Psychiatrists say the increasing paranoia at the White House is symptomatic
of Bush’s “paranoid, delusional personality.”

Dr. Justin Frank, a prominent Washington psychiatrist and author of the
book, Bush on the Couch, Inside the Mind of the President, says the
President suffers from “character pathology,” including “grandiosity” and
“megalomania” – viewing himself, America and God as interchangeable.

Dr. Frank also concludes that Bush’s years of heavy drinking “may have
affected his brain function – and his decision to quit drinking without the
help of a 12-step programs puts him at a far higher risk of relapse.”

Whatever the cause for the President’s increasing paranoia and delusions,
veteran White House watchers see a strong parallel with another Republican
president from 30 years ago.

“From what people who work there now tell me, this White House looks more
and more like the White House of Richard M. Nixon,” says retired political
science professor George Harleigh, who worked in the Nixon White House. “It
may be 2004 but it is starting to seem more like 1974 (the year Nixon
resigned in disgrace).”

© Copyright 2004 Capitol Hill Blue

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