Sunday, February 04, 2007

The Bargain

This is an effort to explain how the current White House works. David Kurtz at TPM asked what psychological dynamic allowed Bush to continue as front man for Cheney, so I suggest this: It is a bargain that Rove got Bush and Cheney to agree to between the three of them so that Bush could be convinced to run for President. It has resulted in what I call "the triumvirate" which consists of Rove, Bush and Cheney in charge of the White House and the Federal government. It started when Rove got Bush elected Governor of Texas. That, and the Bush name and moneyed-friends, placed Bush within the necessary distance to have a chance to win the Presidency.

The position of Governor of Texas is, in fact, as ceremonial as Bush's behavior as President has been. Bush as Governor could appoint (with Senate confirmation) Commissioners (one-third every two years) to run the major departments. Only the Commissioners could give directives to the department employees. The Commissioners could not be removed except by Impeachment or convincing them to resign. Most Statewide offices (Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General, State Comptroller, Agricultural Commissioner, RailRoad Commissioners, etc.) are elected positions, each with independent constituencies.

So the job of Texas Governor is not very demanding. Molly Ivins said "Shrub" normally worked perhaps two hours a day, then walked the dog or played video games.

I rather strongly suspect that Bush's motivations for obtaining political office go back to his feelings of inadequacy and the resulting competition with his father. Rove wanted Bush to run for President, and Bush wanted to also (because of his competition with his father - also a result of his feelings of inadequacy) but Bush knew that he could not administer the government himself. His father was rather good at handling the running of the government, so Bush 43 feeling inadequate to the demanding task, refuses to even compete on that level. Cheney was selected to teach Bush about foreign affairs, but then was chosen to deal with the day-to-day administration of the government. That’s my guess as to why he suddenly selected himself to be on the ticket with Bush in 2000.

I'm willing to bet that Bush seriously hesitated in the late 90's to run for President, but Rove thought he could win. The solution to Bush 43’s hesitation was the selection of Dick Cheney as Veep.

The bargain was that Cheney offered to handle the details of running the government, particularly the military and Intelligence aspects, if Bush would handle the politics of getting elected, the speeches, the fundraising front man and the ceremonial aspects. Rove was there to handle the actual politics, so all Bush had to do was delegate the politics to Rove and the administration of the government to Cheney. With that bargain in place, Bush felt comfortable going for the Presidency since that because that was how the Texas Governor functions and he had done that from 1994 on.

It's been clear since Bush took office in 2001 that this Presidency was the triumvirate, and that these were the roles those three took on. What hasn't been so clear is the extent to which Cheney has institutionalized his part of the bargain. David Kurtz' and Robert Kutner's articles demonstrate how deep the infection has gone.

That critical bargain with Rove and Cheney is why Bush could not dispense with Rove earlier when the Plame leak went to a Special Prosecutor and the investigation entered the White House. Keeping that bargain is the excuse that Bush lives with for not taking back the reins of government from the failed Cheney. Bush sees himself as being loyal to the two men who got him the Presidency and prove to his father that he was not inadequate. But it is not really “loyalty” that freezes Bush in place. It is his own fear that he could not handle the job without Rove and Cheney.

Bush is dimly aware of his inadequacy. He reacts angrily to anyone who brings him bad information. The result of this is that people quickly stop telling him bad news, which creates the information “bubble” he lives in. When he does learn of problems, the charade of his loyalty to Cheney and Rove gives him permission to be passive and not act to correct the problems himself.

Bush's feelings of inadequacy are what drove him to drugs, to drink and then to the “Inerrant” Bible. At the same time those feelings are a major source of the competition Bush 43 has with his father. They drove him to run for the Presidency after Rove got him elected to Governor. They are central to his self-conception, and he will not be forced to go back on his bargain, since that would just reinforce his massive sense of inadequacy. Bush uses his "Faith" in the "Inerrant Bible" and his belief that God directed him to run for and win the Presidency to avoid doing the personal self-analysis that would possible lead to better self-understanding and the behavioral changes that would allow him to learn from his problems. Avoiding this is usually the reason alcoholics get out of or avoid AA as he did.

Bush survives by maintaining his bubble to avoid most bad news, by his rigid personal schedule and obssessive exercise program, by his obssessive "loyalty" to Cheney and Rove and their bargain and by his obsessive faith in the "Inerrant Bible" and that he is doing God's will.

Notice that all of these obsessions are required so that he does not have to face reality and actually do something. Bush could be effectively replaced as President by putting his picture on the wall and playing a tape or video recording each day. This would be a functional equivalent of him as President.

If this thumbnail psychoanalysis has any validity at all, Bush is currently paralyzed in place and cannot make any major changes. He has delegated the politics to Rove and administering the government to Cheney and can't change either one without being “disloyal.” But the pressure is building.

I am not a psychologist. I am a would-be novelist, and this is the way I would write Bush’s character. Unfortunately, I see no way to resolve the dilemma which Bush is in, short of suicide, total failure (with a learning experience which is not likely) or just getting worse and worse for two more years. None of those is a really satisfactory resolution of the dilemma Bush is in, so that the novel never comes to satisfactory ending. Probably why I haven't finished any of the Novels I have tried to write. [Maybe I should go read "Faust."]

This is one we will just have to watch being played out.

Left of Center goes back and describes how Rove chose and groomed Bush for a run for President all through the 1990's.

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