(The emperor cannot defy the grammarians.)
–Marcus Pomponius Marcellus to Tiberius
When speaking in his capacity as an ideologue, George Bush has always expressed a great admiration for Theodore Roosevelt. When Bush moved into the Oval Office, he removed the portrait of Calvin Coolidge placed there by Reagan and replaced it with a likeness of the Rough Rider. Bush’s references to his devotion to Theodore Roosevelt are strewn across his public career, and especially his White House years. They came thick and fast during the period of the Panama invasion, but were also prominent during the Gulf crisis. Here is one from late November, 1990:
Certainly I get inspiration from Teddy Roosevelt. Actually there’s a parallel, not an exact parallel obviously, between San Juan Hill and Kuwait City. I’ve just been reading an interesting treatise on Teddy Roosevelt; his conviction and his determination and his leadership inspire me. All of those things inspire Presidents, I think. [fn 1]
Bush’s endorsement for Teddy Roosevelt is an endorsement for a world outlook and for a policy orientation. Inseparably from that, it is also a statement of affinity for a certain form of psychopathology that is associated with Teddy.
As one of the authors has shown [fn 2], Roosevelt’s maternal uncle was Captain James D. Bulloch, the head of the Confederate intelligence services in Europe and the outfitter of the infamous Confederate raiders Alabama, Shenandoah, and others. Theodore Roosevelt’s elevation to the presidency represented a personal union between the New York-Boston patrician financiers with the secessionist slaveholders. First and foremost, Teddy Roosevelt was a political steward of the Morgan interests which dominated Wall Street. We see that Teddy Roosevelt’s networks shared some essential features with those of George Bush. In many ways, these are the same networks.
In outlook and policy, Theodore Roosevelt was the president who elevated the solidarity of the white race, and especially of its alleged “Anglo-Saxon” component, above the ideas of the American Revolution. The argument was that shared “blood,” language, culture, and the other bonds among the “English- speaking peoples” were far more important than the American System of Franklin, Washington, Hamilton, Henry Clay, and Lincoln. Roosevelt marked the end of the sharp animosity towards the British crown which had been left in American public life in the wake of British support for the Confederacy during the Civil War. Roosevelt directed a wave of race hatred against Chinese and other yellow- skinned orientals; against Latin Americans and peoples of Mediterranean origin; against Germans; and against black and brown skinned people in general.
Teddy Roosevelt was of course a militant imperialist and empire- builder. The “Roosevelt corollary” to the Monroe Doctrine is no corollary, but rather a total reversal of the original anti- colonialist intent of Monroe and his Secretary of State, John Quincy Adams. Teddy Roosevelt’s claim to exercise international police powers over debtor nations launched a new imperialism, this time based in the United States.
Teddy Roosevelt was a dedicated Malthusian who did everything he could to abort the economic development of the United States west of the Mississippi. This Malthusian environmentalism lives on in the administration of the “environmental president.” In order to enforce his alien policies, Teddy Roosevelt was in the vanguard of the creation of a US domestic police state. He got his start by leading police-state attacks on the New York Tammany Democratic machine as New York City Police Commissioner, and later carried his assault to other constituency groupings, the kind Bush reviles today as special interests. Roosevelt founded the centerpiece of the US domestic police state apparatus, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and made Charles Bonaparte, a relation of the French imperial house, the first FBI director. Roosevelt’s program of “trust-busting,” (which wiped out industrial forces opposed to the Morgan interests) and his conservationism led to the creation of a whole series of regulatory agencies, which are busily strangling US economic activity today.
On a deeper level: if London had not been able to count on the United States as a future ally, it is doubtful that the British government would have encouraged Russia and France to go to war with Austria-Hungary and Germany in 1914. Without the short-term certainty of US intervention on the British side, the Bolshevik revolution would have been far less likely. Theodore Roosevelt’s role as the first overtly and extravagantly Anglophile US president after the Civil War thus helped to pave the way for some of the greatest disasters of the twentieth century.
Above and beyond all policy and strategic issues, Bush is attracted by the psychological Gestalt of Theodore Roosevelt. Teddy Roosevelt suffered from a very limited attention span. He was vain, self-centered, unstable and tended towards exhibitionism. The most concise summary of Teddy’s pathology can be found in a letter by Sir Cecil Spring-Rice of the British Foreign Office, certainly one of the most important influences on Roosevelt’s life; some would call him Teddy’s British controller. When another British diplomat, Valentine Chirol, complained about Teddy’s wandering focus and intermittent attention span, Spring-Rice replied:
If you took an impetuous small boy on to a beach strewn with a great many exciting pebbles, you would not expect him to remain interested for long in one pebble. You must always remember that the President is about six. [fn 3]
This restless and distracted inability to concentrate, this incapacity for the prolonged contemplation and examination of issues and problems, is one of the factors that made Teddy Roosevelt the psychological wreck that he was. Teddy could not think; the psychological background noise was far too loud. Instead, he was driven to undertake his legendary hunting exploits of killing vast quantities of birds and animals, his prodigious feats of physical exercise and, later, his hollow martial posturing as a “Rough Rider.”
The polar opposite to Theodore Roosevelt on all of these points of world outlook and literary expression is Abraham Lincoln. Bush was often paid lip service to Lincoln as a great president, and even organized a lecture in the White House about the contributions of the Civil War president. But there have also been a few unguarded moments in which Bush has revealed his instinctive hatred for Lincoln. In mid-1990, Bush attended a performance at Ford’s Theatre, which is still used for dramatic productions and other events in downtown Washington. At the end of the evening Bush was asked by a correspondent if he had enjoyed his evening. Bush remarked that whereas Lincoln had only been able to enjoy the first act of the play he had seen at Ford’s he, Bush, had been able to enjoy the entire evening. This quip was reported in the British press.
Bush’s affinity for Teddy Roosevelt is based most profoundly on the shared cognitive impairment of these two political figures. In the case of Bush, the inability to think is expressed most demonstrably in the incoherence of verbal expression. Thanks in part to Dana Carvey, who has some insight into this side of Bush’s character, the “Bushspeak” issue has been on the table at least since 1987-88. But Bush has been spewing out garbled verbiage for a very long time. The following sample was recorded by Elizabeth Drew in February, 1980, during a ride from Worcester, Masschusetts to Boston. Ms. Drew commented that Bush seemed to enjoy campaigning. Bush replied in part:
I do. Isn’t that awful? I really enjoy it, and I say ‘awful’ only because I’m just beginning to wonder what the hell’s happening to me, you know, but I really do enjoy it. I loved going through that cafeteria, kidding with them and learning stuff and sitting and chatting and trying to be responsive to the person and yet have a concern for what concerns them. I mean it when I say I’m better. I’ll be better, more sensitive, stronger, from things like that. And there is the smell of the greasepaint and that other crap; there’s some of that. I mean, this is very different today. There was a time nobody’d stand out in even hot weather to see me. I was all alone four months ago, and here people are waiting. And there’s a certain forward adrenaline that exists today. Hopefully, there will be more of them. Maybe not: maybe I’ll be lousy and they’ll go away, but that’s part of the fun of it. Part of it is the process itself. It’s a good process. [fn 4]
The leading feature of this sample is Bush’s total lack of rigor; his personal idiom is incapable of expressing causality or precision. Already the subject-object relations are blurred, antecedents are a realm of anything goes, and verbal action has dwindled to insignificance. Underneath the avid and enthusiastic persona is a mind that is petulant, bored, and blase’ about everything that does not touch the interests of the ego. The result is an impression of overwhelming, undifferentiated banality. One is reminded of a narrative voice like the following:
If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you’ll probably want to know is where I was born, and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all before they had me, and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don’t feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth. In the first place, that stuff bores me, and in the second place, my parents would have about two hemorrhages apiece if I told anything personal about them. They’re quite touchy about anything like that, especially my father. [fn 5]
The Holden Caulfield of J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye inhabited the world that also belonged to George Bush, the world of the northeast prep schools of the 1940’s. Apart from the obvious parallels between George and Holden, there is the interesting question of whether Bush might have a closer relation to this literary personage. In the course of the errant Holden Caulfield’s time in New York City, he takes a girlfriend to a matinee theatre performance; during the intermission the girlfriend, named Sally, spots “some jerk she knew on the other side of the lobby. Some guy in one of those very dark grey flannel suits and one of those checkered vests. Strictly Ivy League. Big deal.” Holden recounts the later conversation between Sally and her friend: “You should’ve seen him when old Sally asked him how he liked the play. He was the kind of a phony that have to give themselves room when they answer somebody’s question. He stepped back, and stepped right on the lady’s foot behind him. He probably broke every toe in her body. He said the play itself was no masterpiece, but that the Lunts, of course, were absolute angels. Angels. For Chrissake. Angels. That killed me. Then he and Sally started talking about a lot of people they both knew. It was the phoniest conversation you ever heard in your life.” “The worst part was, the jerk had one of those very phony, Ivy League voices, one of those very tired, snobby voices. He sounded just like a girl. He didn’t hesitate to horn in on my date, the bastard. I even thought for a minute that he was going to get in the goddam cab with us when the show was over, because he walked about two blocks with us, but he said he had to meet a bunch of phonies for cocktails, he said. I could see them all sitting around in some bar, with their goddam checkered vests, criticizing shows and books and women in those tired, snobby voices. They kill me, those guys.”
Who was Sally’s friend? “His name was George something – I don’t even remember- and he went to Andover. Big, big deal.” Who was the “phony Andover bastard” who so exasperated Holden Caulfield? Can this be a very early cameo appearance of George Herbert Walker Bush? J.D. Salinger is not known for giving interviews, but George Bush, Big Man on the Andover campus, would have been a figure of some note under the clock in the Biltmore during the early 1940’s, which seems to be the epoch in which this episode is set.
Bush’s devotion to racist genetic determinism recalls a slightly earlier figure of the Eastern Liberal Establishment in literature; this is the Amory Blaine of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s This Side of Paradise. For the egotist Amory Blaine, whose motto was “I know myself, but that is all,” and who called out to an arch- traitor and arch-villain “Good-by, Aaron Burr, you and I knew strange corners of life,” was also a believer in the superiority of whites and blondes. As Amory tells one of his college friends:
We took the year-books for the last ten years and looked at the pictures of the senior council. I know you don’t think much of that august body, but it does represent success here in a general way. Well, I suppose only about thrity-five per cent of every class here are blonds, are really light–yet two-thirds of every senior council are light. We looked at pictures of ten years of them, mind you; that means that out of every fifteen light-haired men in the senior class one is on the senior council, and of the dark-haired men it’s only one in fifty. [fn 6]
The other figure from F. Scott Fitzgerald who shares traits with Bush is Nick Carraway, the recent Yale graduate who is the narrator of The Great Gatbsy. Nick Carraway was fascinated by Jay Gatbsy and other denizens of the demi-monde of organized crime, recalling George Bush’s long personal friendship with Don Aronow and others of the Meyer Lansky milieu in Florida.
Other aspects of Bush’s outlook and mode of expression can be traced back to Dink Stover at Yale, a series of boy’s novels by Owen Johnson which began coming out after the First World War, just after the Harriman brothers, Prescott Bush, and Neil Mallon had graduated. Dink Stover was a preppy from Lawrenceville who talked about democracy and equality during his first three years at Yale. He always helped old ladies and did the right thing. When Tap Day rolled around, Dink Stover was tapped by Skull and Bones. Key elements of Bush’s public mask, or persona, correspond to the community-service oriented do-gooder Dink Stover, an early addition to the thousand points of light.
Bush’s language is the mirror of his personality, and it merits more than cursory examination. The most outstanding quality of Bushspeak is first of all its garbled incoherence and lost syntax. In one of his debates with Dukakis on September 25, 1988, Bush commented on the number of the homeless who are mentally ill:
But– and I– look, mental– that was a little overstated– I’d say about 30 percent. [fn 7]
Some may claim that the most dissociated utterances by Bush are not his own responsibility, but result rather from Bush’s attempt to regurgitate the contents of verbal briefings and briefing books. This assertion has a specious credibility. In hyper-prepared appearances like the debate with Dukakis, Bush does have a tendency to spout lines that mix up phrases and one-liners that he has drilled. In an answer on defense policy during the same debate with Dukakis, Bush stated: “We are going to make some changes and some tough choices before we go to the deployment on the Midgetman missle, or on the Minuteman, whatever it is. We’re going to have to- – the MX. We’re going to have to do that.” And then he added: “It’s Christmas.” And then, as the audience laughed, “Wouldn’t it be nice to be the iceman so you never make a mistake?” The reference to Christmas was intended to be self- ironic; on September 7, 1988, Bush had announced that it was Pearl Harbor Day; now, on September 25, he was announcing that it was Christmas.
But garbled incoherence is so much a staple of Bush’s spoken discourse that it cannot be attributed solely to the pressure of his handlers; it is a life-long habit which has become more accentuated during the years of his presidency. In February 1988, Bush told prospective voters in the New Hampshire primary:
I have a tendency to avoid on and on and on, eloquent pleas. I don’t talk much, but I believe, maybe not articulate much, but I feel. [fn 8]
Was Bush worried about not being an exciting candidate? “Charisma short? Needing a charisma transplant? Not much,” was his rejoinder. A high school student of Knoxville, Tennessee wanted to know if his president would seek ideas from foreign countries to improve education. Bush’s riposte:
Well, I’m going to kick that one right into the end zone of the Secretary of Education. But, yes, we have all– he travels a good deal, goes abroad. We have a lot of people in the department that does that. We’re having an international– this is not as much education as dealing with the environment–a big international conference coming up. And we get it all the time–exchanges of ideas. But I think we’ve got– we set out there– and I want to give credit to your Governor McWherter and to your former Governor Lamar Alexander– we’ve gotten great ideas for a national goals program from–in this country — from the governors who were responding to, maybe, the principal of your high school, for heaven’s sake. [fn 9]
In a speech to graduating college seniors, Bush described the visit of the new Czechoslovak President, Vaclav Havel, to the White House in early 1990:
And the look on his face, as the man who was in jail an dying, or living — whatever– for freedom, stood out there, hoping against hope for freedom. [fn 10]
Bush once admitted that he had difficulty keeping the most elementary sense of direction in his mental life; he told a group of school children, “I read so much sometimes I start to read backwards, which is not very good.” [fn 11]
Bush is a bureaucrat and administrator at heart, with all the sinister overtones these have rightly acquired during the twentieth century. His discourse is highly bureaucratic, and is famous for being so. Bush’s obsessions with “things”, as in the notorious “vision thing,” reflects the essence of Aristotelian bureaucratic cataloguing. We saw the “adversary thing” back in 1976; since then we have seen the “Super Tuesday thing,” “the vice presidential thing,” and a nostalgic glance at “this drilling thing,” in reference to Bush’s “experience in offshore drilling.” [fn 12] When Bush talked by telephone with the astronauts of the space shuttle Atlantis, he asked, “How was the actual deployment thing?” Sometimes this can even occur in the plural, as in this reference to his dog Millie’s puppies: “Kids just love those little fuzzy things.” Bush’s language is also peppered with the acronyms of the inside-the-beltway Washington functionary. “My allied colleagues and I should agree to take up these ideas at the C.S.C.E. summit this fall, to be held around the signing of the C.F.E. treaty,” Bush said on one occasion. Those who do not know what GATT, SPRs, G-7, Start, Cocom, OTS, and Chapter VII mean are going to have a hard time following Bushspeak. [fn 13] And like all bureaucrats, Bush loves the passive voice. His stock reply on Iran- contra was, “Mistakes were made.” Who made them? Bush’s answer, which he alleges is borrowed from Yogi Berra, was “Don’t make the wrong mistakes.”
Very often Bush’s pronouncements are designed for self-defense against his detractors. In the spring of 1988, Bush was asked his reaction to Garry Trudeau’s Doonesbury comic strip, and to the political satire of Dana Carvey of Saturday Night Live. Bush answered:
I used to get tense about that. My mother still does. She’s 87. She doesn’t like it when people say untrue and ugly things about her little boy. Having said that, it doesn’t bother me any more. You know why, because we took a tremendous pounding, not just from elitists like Doonesbury, coming out of the elite of the elite, but untrue allegations, and you know I don’t worry about it anymore, because the American people don’t believe all this stuff. So I’m saying, why should I be all uptight? [fn 14]
Although he likes to suggests that it is his opponents who are the real elitist, sometimes Bush has to defend his own patrician social background against criticism. When Bush was campaigning in New Jersey before the 1988 primary, he was asked if the patrician governor of that state, Tom Kean, had a background so similar to Bush’s that he could not be considered as Bush’s vice presidential running mate. Bush’s reply:
Did they ask Tom Kean when he was a great success in business, a great success in government, did they ask where he went to school or what his background was? Did they say, ‘Tom, you can’t be a very good governor because you weren’t born in a log cabin in the middle of Newark’? No, they didn’t ask that…. So I don’t worry about fitting into some kind of mold. It’s what you feel, what you believe, what kind of experience you’ve had.” [fn 15]
Many times the purpose of Bush’s remarks is to evade questions. He often refused to talk about his role in Iran-contra: “I forgot to tell you, I don’t talk about what I told the president,” was a favorite line. Who would be his running mate? “I forgot to tell you, I’m not in the speculation business.” Would he purge the Reaganites? “I forgot to tell you, we’re going to have wholesale change.” [fn 16]
Bush has called himself “a restrained kind of guy.” He has often denied having “a rancor in there” against his opposition, but his rage states have become increasingly difficult to control over the years. He was unable to control his temper when defending his kow-tow to Deng Xiao-ping during 1989; after a ranting defense of his China policy he thanked the press for their questions, saying: “So, I’m glad you asked it because then I vented a spleen here.” [fn 17] Bush’s rage episodes have often been associated with public criticism. Commenting once again on the Doonesbury comic strip, Bush once confessed: “Four years ago I’d go ballistic when I read some of this stuff. But hey, let him do his thing, and I’ll do mine.” “Ballistic” for Bush refers to a rage fit which might cause him to chew on the White House carpets; this is a not infrequent event. For lesser tantrums Bush has coined another expression, “semi-ballistic,” as in an offhand remark during the 1988 campaign about his feelings when given speech drafts which he finds unsuitable: “Everybody on this airplane will have seen me semi-ballistic when people hand me things that I’m simply not going to say.”
Another feeling state which, judging from the evidence of his statements, is meaningful for Bush is the state of being “frantic.” During the 1988 campaign, Bush was asked about his tendency to assail Dukakis. Bush replied”
I don’t feel frantic. I don’t feel under any time constraints. There is a little bit of cholesterol rise, the frustration level going up. So I’m getting a little bit more combative. [fn 18]
During 1989, Bush still faced grilling about Iran-contra from a reporter. “You’re burning up time. The meter is running through the sand on you, and I am now filibustering,” taunted Bush. [fn 19]
Bush’s pattern of uncontrollable rage states became worse during 1990, in the interwar period between Panama and Iraq. During February 1990, Bush came under fire for duplicity, lying to the press, and excessive secret diplomacy. After a night’s sleep on Air Force One on the way to an anti-drug summit in Colombia, Bush came out of his quarters to confront the travelling press corps in a way that the Washington Post correspondent found “both testy and teasing.” Bush, visibly furious, announced “a whole new relationship” with reporters. “From now on it’s gonna be a little different. I think we have too many press conferences,” ranted Bush. “It’s not good. It’s overexposure to the thing.” Had he not slept well?, asked one reporter. Bush replied,
I can’t go into the details of that. Because someone will think it’s too much sleep, someone will think it’s too little. I’ll give you a little insight into that. I had a very good night’s sleep. And I’ve never– if I felt better it’d be a frame-up. There’s something you can use.
Bush was incensed because he had denied that there was about to be a four-power conference on the future of Germany, and such a conference was announced the next day. Bush had been misleading about his plans for the Malta summit with Gorbachov, and he had kept secret the mission of Scowcroft and Eagleburger to Beijing on July 4, 1989. Various press accounts had noted these discrepancies, and Bush was now having a fit. Would he be signing a joint communique at the drug summit with Colombia, Peru and Bolivia?
I hate to be secretive, say nothing of deceptive. But I’m not going to tell you that.
Would he discuss possible US military interdiction of drug trafficking?
I’m not going to discuss what I’m gonna bring up.
Would the drug summit bring any surprise proposals?
I’m not gonna discuss whether there are any surprises or not. This is a new thing. A new approach. Even if I don’t discuss it. I’m not going to discuss it.
Would the Colombian government now abandon its policy of extraditing drug traffickers?
Bush: I have no comment whatsoever on that.
Q: Did you know about it?
Bush: I have no comments on whether I knew about it.
Q: Is it true?
Bush: I can’t comment on whether it’s true or not.
Q: Did we turn you into this?
Bush: Yes. When I told you…that I didn’t think there would be a deal [on the four-power conference on Germany], and then they shortly made a deal, and I’m hit for decieving you. So from now on it’s going to be a little different.
Would he schedule a summit with Gorbachov for June, 1990? Bush again refused to answer, “Because I’m not gonna be burned for holding out or doing something deceptive.” Later the same afternoon, Marlin Fitzwater, the top White House spin doctor, attempted to interpret what had been an infantile fit of rage by assuring the reporters: “He was just kidding. He was having fun.” [fn 20] In retrospect, it is also clear that Bush’s thyroid was also on the warpath.
Later the same spring, Bush went semi-ballistic when reporters declined to join him for jogging at 7:15 AM in Columbia, South Carolina. The White House reporters all got a wake-up call at 7 AM calling on them to join Bush for jogging in 15 minutes; usually the reporters watch Bush from the sidelines, but this time he was magnanimously inviting them to come running with him. There were no volunteers. Bush then bullied Rita Beamish of Associated Press into running with him, 13 laps around a football field for a total of 25 minutes. But even after that exertion, Bush was still full of fury. He proceeded to launch a diatribe at the press corps:
The rest of you lazy guys, get out there and run. A fit America is a fine America. A fit America is a strong America. A fit America should include photo dogs [Bushspeak for photographers] as well as print reporters who slovenly sit back in the grandstands while some of us are out running.
Bush then attacked the “boom men,” who hold microphones on long poles to pick up Bush’s remarks. Not long before, a boom man had accidentally dropped a microphone on a table in the Oval Office, and Bush had apoplectically complained of ruined antiques; had it been the Theodore Roosevelt desk? Bush railed that if the boom men exercised more, they would have more “strength in the forearms to keep these microphones up in the air.” One reporter responded to the tirade: “I do not get paid to play with the president when he feels like playing.” [fn 21]
When on vacation, Bush has always maintained a frenetic, hyperkinetic pace. After winning the 1988 election, Bush repaired to Delray Beach, Florida, to cavort with his plutocrat friend William Stamps Farrish III. Despite the exhausting rigors of the campaign, Bush “spent the bulk of his day exercising and resting: a quarter-mile swim, a 20-minute run, and a nap.” He came back from a two-mile run in an “upbeat, almost giddy mood.” [fn 22]
Bush’s hyperkinetic antics at Kennebunkport during September, 1989 were described as follows by a first-hand observer:
It was just an average day on President Bush’s vacation.
Hungering to catch a bluefish, he packed up his speedboat Fidelity and headed out to sea. But when he remembered that he had forgotten First Lady Barbara Bush, he turned the boat around and accidentally ran over a board, which broke a propeller.
Undeterred by his disabled boat, the president took his party to the horseshoe pit, where they tossed several games for about 45 minutes as Mr. Bush exclaimed, “Mr. Smooth does it again” with each ringer. But soon that got old, and it was time to head to the golf course for 18 holes.
This is President Bush, a man of nearly manic movement. All during his vacation, the last thing he did was relax. He’s up at the crack of dawn for jogging, out on the tennis courts, teeing off for golf, pitching horseshoes, fishing, swimming, entertaining friends.
Bush, in sum, “can’t sit still”; he even accepted a dare from his grandchildren and dove off a stone pier into the Atlantic Ocean, which is kept cold along the Maine coast by the frigid Labrador current. [fn 23]
George Herbert Walker had reformed the rules of golf, eliminating the stymie; George Bush transformed the game into a manic exercise called “speed golf,” whose object is to complete 18 holes in the briefest possible interval of time. According to one journalist who attempted to match Bush’s record of 1 hour 37 minutes for a threesome, as compared with almost four hours for leisurely golfers. Speed golf may not be for everyone,
but it is President Bush’s game, however. He calls it cart polo. Bush has taken a leisurely game and turned it into what one reporter called a forced march– on wheels. “He barely gets out of the cart, whacks it, and he’s gone,” says Spike Heminway, Bush’s longtime friend and frequent playing partner. Others have dubbed it aerobic golf, or golf in the fast lane. “Do you know who the winner is in speed golf?” a Portland, Maine doctor asked me. “The first one in the hole.” [fn 24]
During the summer of 1989, “Bush revealed himself to be a playful yet relentless exhibitionist,” wrote another commentator. “He was forever restless and rarely alone.” Out on the golf course, he called for silence: “All right, the crowd is hushed. They sense that Mr. Smooth is back.” Later, when it came time to play tennis, Bush ordered a press aide to round up the photo dogs and reporters to “come see what Mr. Smooth is like on the courts.” [fn 25] For Newsweek, Bush’s routine was a “pentathlon.”
Bush’s desire for frenetic movement, seeking in space what has been lost in time, carries over into his notorious penchant for foreign travel. By July, 1991, he had logged 339,257 miles on Air Force One, and visited 32 countries, having surpassed in less than 30 months the previous record set by Nixon between 1969 and 1974. [fn 26]
Bush has a history of psychosomatic illness. During the 1950’s, when he was in his early thirties, he had been, according to his own account, a “chronic worrier.” One morning during a “hectic business trip to London” Bush had fainted in his hotel room, and was unable to get to his feet. A hotel doctor thought he had food poisoning. Bush says he later sought treatment from Dr. Lillo Crain at the Texas Medical Center. Dr. Crain told Bush that he had a bleeding ulcer. “George, you’re a classic ulcer type,” Bush says he was told by Dr. Crain. “A young businessman with only one speed, all-out. You try to do too much and you worry too much.” Bush says he expressed doubt there was any chance he could change his ways. The doctor replied, “There’d better be, or you won’t be around in ten years, maybe five.” Dr. Crain added: “If you want to keep this from happening again, it’s up to you.” [fn 27] Bush claims he worked at “channeling my energies”, and “never suffered a relapse.”
After Bush’s May 10, 1989 White House physical examination, a cyst was found on the third finger of Bush’s right hand; this was surgically removed in October, 1989, and pronounced benign. This was allegedly Bush’s only problem. On April 12, 1990, White House physician Dr. Burton Lee announced that Bush “is in truly excellent health.” “He continues to keep extremely fit through vigorous physical activity.” Bush was diagnosed with “early glaucoma” in his left eye, a condition that was treated with Betagen eye drops. X-rays of Bush’s hips and back confirmed the presence of a “mild degenerative osteoarthritis,” which allegedly had been discovered by previous examinations. [fn 2] On March 27, 1991, Bush was given another routine physical, and the White House doctors (and spin doctors) announced once again that their charge was in “excellent health.”
On May 4, 1991, Bush delivered an address at the commencement exercises of the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor. This campus had been the site of the first anti-war teach in of the Vietnam epoch, in 1965, and the Ann Arbor campus had been the scene of significant anti-war activity during Bush’s Gulf adventure. Today Bar was also present. His new speech writer Tony Snow, the former editorial page editor of the Moonie Washington Times had contributed to a speech attacking the campus inquisition called “political correctness.” The scene was the cavernous Michigan Stadium south of the main campus, a larger version of the Circus Maximus in Rome. Bush was looking for a wedge issue for the 1992 campaign, and the campus dictators of the politically correct were a big target. There were hecklers with signs denouncing Bush, so he launched into his text with vigor:
Although the movement arises from the laudable desire to sweep away the debris of racism and sexism and hatred, it replaces old prejudice with new ones. It declares certain topics off-limits, certain expressions off-limits, even certain gestures off- limits…In their own Orwellian way, crusades that demand correct behavior crush diversity in the name of diversity.
At this point the hecklers came to life with loud chants of “Bush lies.” Since the beginning of the Gulf crisis, Bush had been confronted by hostile demonstrators. We know from his 1965 debate with Ronnie Dugger how much he was upset by such “extremists.” The chants kept going as the infuriated Bush struggled to be heard.
The power to create also rests on other freedoms, especially the freedom — and I think about that right now — to speak one’s mind. I had this written into the speech, and I didn’t even know if these guys were going to be here.
The demonstrators kept up the chorus of “Bush lies.” Bush’s temperature was rising from semi-ballistic to ballistic. He told the students to
…fight back against the boring politics of division and derision. Let’s trust our friends and colleagues to respond to reason….And I remind myself a lot of this: We must conquer the temptation to assign bad motives to people who disagree with us. [fn 29]
After this speech, Bush flew to Andrews Air Force base and thence by helicopter to Camp David. During this period, Bush’s White House chief of staff, John Sununu, had become the target of public criticism because of his frequent use of military aircraft for weekend vacations and skiing trips. Boy Gray had come forward as the enforcer of White House travel regulations against Sununu, whose motto was reportedly “fly free or die.” There were also moves afoot to re-open the 1980 October surprise investigation, always a point of immense vulnerability for Bush. He had been forced to deny once again on May 3 that he had engaged in secret dealings with the Khomeini regime to delay the release of the US hostages in Teheran.
Slightly after 3:30 PM, Bush gathered his retinue of Secret Service agents and announced that it was time to go jogging. After about 30 minutes, he began complaining of fatigue and shortness of breath. He then proceeded to the Camp David infirmary, where Michael Nash, one of his resident team of doctors, determined that Bush was experiencing atrial fibrillation, an irregularity of the heartbeat. Nash recommended that Bush go to Bethesda Medical Center for treatment. Bush arrived at Bethesda at 6 PM.
The news that Bush had entered the hospital at Bethesda was flashed by wire services around the planet. Bush was exhibiting a fast, irregular heart rhythm. The heart was working less efficiently, producing a tendency for shortness of breath, light- headedness, and even fainting. Sometimes atrial fibrillation is associated with a heart attack, or with damage to a heart valve. The first step in Bush’s treatment was the attempt to slow the heart rate and to restore the normal rhythm. After an hour of tests, doctors gave Bush digoxin, a drug used to restore the usual heart rhythm. When the digoxin proved unable to do the job alone, Bush’s physicians began to administer another heart medication, procainamide. Though doctors claimed that Bush showed “some indications of a positive response” to this therapy, Bush’s heart irregularity was resistant to the medicines and persisted through Sunday, May 5. Doctors also began to administer an anticoagultant drug, Coumadin, in addition to aspirin. Bush was thus being kept going with four different medications.
At this point, Bush’s medical team was forced to contemplate resorting to electrocardioversion, a procedure in which an electric shock is administered to the heart, momentarily stopping the heart and resetting its rhythm. This prospect was enough to create a crisis of the entire regime, since electrocardioversion would have required Bush to undergo general anesthesia, which in turn would have mandated the transfer of presidential powers to Vice President Dan Quayle. Back in 1985, we have seen that Bush was the beneficiary of such a transfer when Reagan underwent surgery for colon cancer. The transfer would have been accomplished under Section III of the Twenty-Fifth Amendment of the Constitution, which states that
Whenever the President transmits to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives his written declaration that he is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, and until he transmits to them a written declaration to the contrary, such powers and duties shall be discharged by the Vice President as Acting President.
The specter of Acting President Dan Quayle brought forth a wave of public expressions of consternation and dismay. According to a Washington Post-ABC public opinion poll published May 7, 57% of those responding said that in their opinion Quayle was not qualified to take over as Acting President. In the night between Sunday May 5 and Monday May 6, Bush was still experiencing sporadic episodes of an irregular heartbeat. But on the morning of Monday, May 6 his doctors suddenly pronounced him fit to return to the Oval Office, where he was seated at his desk by 9:30 AM, and resumed what was described as his normal work schedule. The doctors conceded only that they had asked Bush to curtail his usual frenetic schedule of recreational sports.
Bush returned to work wired with a portable heart monitor. This was a device about the size of a telephone pager, with white wires leading to patches on his chest which measured the rate of his heartbeat. Bush stated that he was “Back to normal and the same old me.” He declined to show off his heart monitor with the quip “Do you think I’m Lyndon Johnson?” LBJ had pulled up his shirt to show reporters a scar on his stomach after a gall bladder operation. [fn 30]
On May 7, Bush’s chief attending physician, Dr. Burton Lee, gave a briefing at Bethesda in which he disclosed that Bush’s bout with atrial fibrillation had been caused by an overactive thyroid gland. Lee assured the press that the problem had been an overactive thryoid secreting too much of the hormore thyroxin, which helps to regulate the body’s metabolic rate. This hormone goes into the circulatory system, and thus can disturb the proper functioning of the heart. Lower the rate of production of thyroid hormone, and everything would return to normal, was the message. Lee said that Bush would undergo a thyroid scan and other tests to help determine the appropriate treatment. Contradicting earlier statements by Fitzwater that there had been no recent danger signals regarding Bush’s health, Lee now revealed that Bush had experienced a small weight loss and episodes of unusual fatigue during jogging over the previous few weeks. The weight loss had been of eight or nine pounds during the month before Bush was hospitalized. Bush had been tired enough to complain, “Gee whiz, I must be getting old,” on earlier joggings runs. [fn 31] Some of Bush’s symptoms appear to have emerged in February, during the time of the Iraq war. Lee claimed that Bush had never undergone tests of his thyroid functions because he had shown no symptoms of thyroid disturbance– a patent absurdity. According to Burton Lee, the first indication of a thyroid disturbance came on Monday morning, when a blood test showed that the level of thyroid hormone in Bush’s blood was above normal. These results were then confirmed with repeated blood tests.
The official White House line was that this was good news, since thyroid disorders were easily treated. Fitzwater recounted that “The President was overjoyed. It means the problem was not a problem with his heart and that it is virtually 100 percent treatable.” Burton Lee chimed in with his opinion that biochemical hyperthyroidism is “easily treatable.”
On May 9, Bush’s doctors announced that he was suffering from what they chose to call Graves’ disease, a condition in which the thyroid gland becomes enlarged and produces excessive levels of hormone in response to “false messages” from other parts of the body about how much of the hormone is needed. Graves’ disease is a disorder of the immune system in which the body produces an antibody which “mimics” the hormone that usually tells the thyroid how much thyroxin to produce. One decisive test was said to have involved Bush’s swallowing of a small dose of radioactive iodine, followed by observation with a device resembling a geiger counter to obtain an image of the thyroid. This thyroid scan revealed a gland that was enlarged, and absorbing iodine at faster than the normal rate. During this press conference, Bush’s medical team also conceded that Bush had experienced a renewed bout of atrial fibrillation in the form of a “rather brief episode” during the night of Tuesday, May 8.
During this press conference, Burton Lee once again repeated the story that Bush’s thyroid had never been tested during his previous annual or other checkups. He offered the estimate that Bush’s thyroid condition had developed after his last medical checkup, which had been conducted on March 27, 1991. According to Dr. Kenneth Burman,a thyroid specialist at Walter Reed Army Medical Center who had been assigned to Bush’s case, the issue of whether thyroid tests should be a part of routine physical examination was controversial. Burman added that his personal opinion was that such tests were not cost-effective! Press reports reflected surprise on the part of outside experts about this alleged neglect of thyroid testing. Also joining in this press conference was Dr. Bruce K. Lloyd, the chief of cardiology at Bethesda Medical Center.
Bush’s doctors announced that he had ingested a dose of radioactive iodine on the morning of May 9. Bush drank this iodine at Bethesda. One thyroid expert, Dr. Bruce D. Weintraub of the National Institutes of Health, told the Washington Post that as a result of this thyroid cocktail, which was designed to destroy a large part of Bush’s thyroid, the public might henceforth see “a slower and less frenetic George Bush.” [fn 32] As a result of the radioactive cocktail, Bush was “mildly radioactive” for a few days, and was told to refrain from hugging his grandchildren for their protection.
Some experts called attention to the allegedly bizarre anomaly that Barbara Bush had been diagnosed as suffering from Graves’ disease in January, 1990, in the immediate wake of the Panama crisis. One of the antibodies associated with Graves’ disease triggers abnormal deposits of fat behind the eyes, leading to the bulging eyes that are associated in the popular mind with hyperthyroid disorders. For some time after she was diagnosed, Mrs. Bush suffered from disturbances in her vision. In addition, during the summer of 1990, the family dog Millie, a springer spaniel, was found to have contracted lupus, another autoimmune disease. Millie was treated with the steroid drug prednisone, and apparently recovered. Finally, it turned out that Bush’s son Marvin, a resident of Alexandria, Virginia, was also afflicted by an autoimmune disorder, this time regional enteritis.
As will shortly become clear, there would have been good reason to investigate Bush’s frequent episodes of apoplectic rage as a causal factor in the autoimmune disorders of his immediate family circle. The most likely explanation for the afflictions of Millie and Barbara is that they were both driven frantic by George’s obsessive and rage-filled outbursts in the White House family quarters. This may have included various forms of mental and even physical abuse. The emotional trauma of living with George would be more than enough to produce autoimmune problems in those around him. Perhaps in an attempt to distract attention from this highly plausible path of investigation, Marilyn Quayle was sent forward to tell CNN of a plan to test the water at the vice president’s residence at the Naval Observatory, where George and Barbara had lived for eight years before moving to the White House. Mrs. Quayle told the media that Bush’s White House physicians had “ordered all sorts of tests” on the water in the vice president’s residence, which is over a century old. “Obviously there is a little bit of concern,” said Mrs. Quayle. “It seems a little bit much of a coincidence. I don’t worry overmuch about it, but I think it’s something that does bear looking into.” Mrs. Quayle added that she hoped the results of the tests “relieve a lot of people’s minds– definitely, I hope they relieve mine.”
What Marilyn Quayle was referring to was part of a program to test the water at the White House, the Naval Observatory, Camp David, and Kennebunkport. Sanitary engineers were said to be looking for concentrations of iodine and lithium, two chemicals which had been linked to thyroid disorders. Bush’s doctors later said that they had ordered the tests in the hopes of uncovering clues to the remarkable coincidence of three autoimmune disorders in the Bush household, including the dog Millie. Bush’s pose was one of studied skepticism: “You’re kidding,” he told reporters. “I’m not going to lose confidence in the water at the White House until we know a little more about this,” Bush said. In any case, the water at the White House “tasted fine to me.” [fn 33]
During the visit of Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom, Bush described himself as “dead tired” on one occasion during the visit. During a May 20 press conference with Chancellor Helmut Kohl of Germany, Bush spoke with a raspy voice, and his attention seemed to wander. When asked about his poor performance with Kohl, Bush conceded that he had experienced “slowing down on the mental processes.” On more than one occasion, he seemed to lose his train of thought during answers to the questions of the journalists. The raspy voice was still noticeable in a press conference on May 21. On that same day, the White House announced the results of what was billed as Bush’s first complete checkup since the day he swallowed radioactive iodine. The White House said that Bush had lost a total of 13 pounds since the onset of the crisis, but had managed to gain back a pound and a half. Tests showed that Bush’s thyroid functions were now in the low-normal range, it was further alleged. Doctors tried to explain away Bush’s fatigue by saying that it reflected the body’s adjustment to a thyroid gland which was overactive less than two weeks before, but had now possibly become underactive as a result of the radioactive iodine therapy, which had destroyed many thyroxin-producing cells. By this point, Bush was still taking digoxin, procainamide, Coumadin, aspirin, and non-radioactive iodine drops. These last, it was said, were designed to reduce the amounts of thyroxin entering the bloodstream. [fn 34]
Bush was in Kennebunkport for Memorial Day, and the White House propaganda machine was churning out the line was that he was now well on his way to complete recovery. “I’m sleeping much better and I really do feel good and I wish I had about four more days here,” Bush told the press. “Been taking a little sleep after lunch here, which is good. Been sleeping very well.” During this weekend, Bush tried fishing at nine of his favorite locations. On Sunday, May 26, Bush played a total of 27 holes of golf. Reporters found that he was back to his old ways as he “circled the golf course like a man on a merry-go-round.” When he “passed the 18th hole once again on this vacation, he exuberantly flung a golf club at his cart and looked horrified when it nearly hit one of his Secret Service guards.” According to press reports, Bush was still suffering from dryness of mouth. He had reduced his intake of caffeine, and of alcohol. On Monday, May 27, Bush traveled to New Haven to speak at the Yale commencement, and lost three pounds due to the rigors of the trip. On Tuesday, after he had returned to Kennebunkport, he told reporters: “Yesterday I got a little tired at the end of the day, and today I feel fine. You have to pace yourself a little.” [fn 35]
Bush’s speech at the Yale commencement was devoted to a pugnacious defense of his China policy, the policy of the kow-tow to the butchers of Beijing. In the words of one observer: “George Bush’s address to the Yale graduating class was more like a tantrum than a speech. In it, he was defiant about renewing most-favored- nation trading status for the Chinese, and crushingly condescending to the opposition he faces. […] The resolute commander-in-chief sounded like the querulous candidate of yesterday. He can do what he wants, talk out of both sides of his mouth and stage a preemptive strike on critics who say his position is immoral.” [fn 36]
On Wednesday, May 29, Bush proposed a freeze on the purchase and production of surface-to-surface missles in the Middle East. On this day Bush was again out on the golf course, and questions about his health were raised once again by his ghastly personal appearance, which was best conveyed by a photograph appearing on the front page of the London Financial Times of Thursday, May 30.
After the beginning of June, references to Bush’s atrial fibrillation and thyroid crisis become exceedingly rare, a tribute to the power of the Brown Brothers, Harriman/Skull and Bones networks. On September 5, Burton Lee announced that he had halted Bush’s daily doses of procainamide and digoxin shortly after the middle of August. But Bush continued to take daily doses of coumadin to prevent blood clots, medication to replace lost thyroid hormore production, and aspirin every other day, also to prevent blood clots. This announcement came at the end of Bush’s 29 day vacation in Kennebunkport. The White House spin was that Bush “appears to have overcome weight loss and fatigue associated with the thyroid condition, called Graves’ disease, and treatment for it.” [fn 37] Then, in mid-September, Bush underwent a two-hour medical examination designed to provide a “medical stamp of approval” for Bush’s health as he prepared to run for re- election in 1992. “I gotta prove I’m well,” said Bush as he went in for the checkup. According to Dr. Burman, “the president has been restored to his normal vigorous state of good health.” Lee said that all tests had showed Bush’s heart functions to be normal; he also claimed that there had been no recurrence of atrial fibrillation after May. Bush had commented in August that the only thing that could keep him from running for a second term would be a health problem. He now described his own condition as “100 percent. Perfect bill of health.” [fn 38] And that, as far as the regime was concerned, was that.
Despite the claims of Dr. Lee that political considerations played no role in his treatment, it is clear that all statements by White House physicians about Bush’s physical and mental health must be regarded with the greatest skepticism; such pronouncements are likely to be as reliable as the censored war bulletins of Operation Desert Storm. Was there still a problem with Bush’s health, including his mental health? The answer is an emphatic yes, a yes buttressed by the observation of continued paroxysms of obsessive rage on the part of Bush, who has not calmed down at all. Bush remains on an emotional roller-coaster, complete with the snap decisions so typical of the hyperthyroid personality. In short, Bush’s thyroid and mental disorders have the most devastating implications for his ability to govern.
The first question regards the nature and even the name of Bush’s malady. According to a leading Baltimore psychiatrist who could not be described as politically hostile to Bush, it is clear that the man in the White House is suffering from the full-fledged symptoms of Basedow’s disease. The difference between Graves’ disease and Basedow’s is more than a technical quibble: the term Graves’ disease as used in the English-speaking world is misleading in that it plays down the symptoms of mental disturbance which are more explicitly associated with Basedow’s disease. According to this specialist, it is pointless to test the water in the White House, the Naval Observatory, Kennebunkport, and Camp David, since it is well established that Basedow’s disease is emotionally triggered. An emotional upheaval, psychic shock, or other mental trauma stimulates the master endocrine gland of the body, the pituitary gland, into an overproduction of its hormone, which in turn provokes an overactivity of the thyroid, speeding up overall metabolism and further exacerbating the nervous and emotional crisis. This pattern of overstimulation of the mind, the pituitary, the thyroid, the mind, and so forth becomes a vicious, self-feeding cycle, which can be life threatening if it is not effectively treated.
According to this Baltimore expert, the fact that Bush has experienced a pattern of atrial fibrillation is cause for concern not so much because of what it portends for Bush’s heart, but rather because it shows that Bush’s case of Basedow’s disease is already well advanced, with a significant excess of thyroid hormone. The overproduction of thyroid hormone can theoretically be brought under control through the administration of radioactive iodine, but this does not mean that the disease itself is easy to treat or to bring under control with any finality. Precisely because Basedow’s disease is emotionally triggered, a sudden increase in emotional stress can result in a renewal of erratic behavior.
The good news, in the view of this expert, is that patients suffering from Basedow’s disease do not have to be placed into a mental institution. Their symptoms can be managed, although they will continue to have their ups and downs. But such management requires a stress-free environment. The implications for Bush’s further tenure in the White House are obvious enough: the Federal Aeronautics Administration will not grant a pilot’s license of any kind to a person who has been diagnosed with Basedow’s disease.
The Baltimore specialist also pointed out that although samples of Bush’s blood, taken by his White House doctors and frozen over a period of months and years, might be tested for thyroid hormone in order to answer the all-important question of when Bush’s case of Basedow’s disease actually began, these findings might be fragmentary because of the significant day-to-day variations in the level of thyroid hormone. If a sample had been taken after Bush heard the news that Iraqi Foreign Minister Tariq Aziz had declined to accept Bush’s threatening letter handed to him by Secretary of State Baker, Bush’s level of thyroid hormone that day might have been high enough to warrant immediate hospitalization.
In the opinion of this expert, these points all represent standard, well-known medical doctrine which is not subject to any controversy among physicians and specialists. Bush’s White House medical team must therefore be keenly aware of all of them.
According to a California professor of radiology, hyperthyroidism is traditionally associated with patients who are irritable, restless, overactive, and emotionally labile. They often lack the ability to concentrate, and have symptoms of anxiety. They also exhibit impulsive behavior. In addition, there are outright psychiatric disorders which are associated with hyperthyroidism. This professor pointed to Bush’s decision to initiate hostilities against Iraq, in which he rejected the advice of eight out of nine secretaries of defense, three former chairmen of the joint chiefs of staff, and other prominent experts in order to wage war. Could this kind of decision-making process be associated with Bush’s hyperthyroidism? In this specialist’s opinion it is difficult to say, because of the difficulty of determining with precision when Bush’s hyperthyroid condition began. Bush’s choice of Dan Quayle as a running mate might also fit into this type of pattern.
This California professor noted that there exists a literature on hyperthyroid patients who have developed schizophrenia. Sixty per cent of patients with hyperthyroidism show intellectual impairment of some degree. What will Bush be like if and when he becomes euthyroid? The California professor regarded this as a fascinating question to follow.
According to a Venezuelan endocrinologist, hyperthyroidism must be regarded as a psycho-somatic illness characterized by obsessive states. When the patient is unable to consummate his or her obsession, then cardiac arrhythmia results. When this happens, the condition of the patient deteriorates. This mechanism strongly suggests that such thyroid patients be disqualified for posts that involve stress and weighty responsibilities. According to this expert, it would be difficult for Bush to remain in office until January, 1993, and it would be madness for him to attempt a second term. This specialist has a background of research in the psychological causes of thyroid disorders; one form of the etiology of hyperthyroidism he has studied involves the tendency of young children whose parents have died to develop thyroid problems as a result of grief and bereavement.
The question of the influence of Bush’s hyperthyroid condition on his decison-making, especially his rageful and obsessive decisions to go to war in Panama and the Gulf, could not be avoided even by the pro-regime press. A New York Times article by Dr. Lawrence K. Altman, MD, posed the question, “does an overactive thyroid gland affect mood and judgment?” According to this piece, experts interviewed admitted that they had “wondered about a theoretical link between [Bush’s] Graves’ disease and his presidential decisions. Most experts believe that people with hyperthyroidism do not make decisions as well as they would normally.” “An important question,” wrote Altman, “is when Mr. Bush’s case of Graves’ disease began.” One way to shed light on this question would be to test stored blood samples that Bush’s doctors would routinely keep. But the Secret Service has a policy of destroying all such specimens for security reasons! According to Dr. Andre Van Herle of UCLA, among patients suffering from hyperthyroidism, “some are not disturbed at all; others are basket cases.” Altman elaborates that
people with hyperthyroid conditions can exhibit uncharacteristic behavior like showing shortened attention spans, making snap decisions, behaving frenetically, and tiring more easily than usual. People have been known to inexplicably get married or divorced when such important decisions are out of character. Students with overactive thyroids may be so jittery that they cannot sit through class or they do poorly on examinations.
The worst form of hyperthyroidism, known as thyroid storm, can be charctarized by fever, marked weakness, muscle-wasting and psychosis. Mr. Bush’s doctors have described his case as mild, and never near thyroid storm.
According to Dr. Peter C. Whybrow, head of the department of psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania, mild depression can be an initial symptom of hyperthyroid disorder. People with overactive thyroid glands “don’t perform quite so well,” in his view. “They feel, for reasons they cannot explain, a little agitated, a little preoccupied with themselves, jumpy. Their concentration is a little off.” According to Altman, “some experts have raised the possibility that Mr. Bush could have had a mildly overactive thyroid in the 1988 Presidential campaign, or even earlier.” Any normal medical checkup administered by a private doctor would have detected Bush’s thyroid ailment through a $20 blood test that is done automatically unless it is specifically ruled out by the physician in advance. [fn 39]
These views were supplemented by a piece in the Washington Post by Abigail Trafford, the editor of that newspaper’s weekly health supplement, who was herself a victim of Graves’ disease. Ms. Trafford warned her readers of “the bad news: It is difficult to live with and adjust to Graves’s disease. What’s missing in all the upbeat press releases from the White House is the powerful emotional impact the disease has on many patients and the effects of hyperthyroidism on mood, behavior, and judgment. And while Graves’ is, indeed, curable, it can take months, sometimes years, for people to get their thyroid function back to normal.” Joshua L. Cohen, assistant professor of medicine at George Washington University, told Ms. Trafford that “Graves’ disease strikes on a psychological basis and it strikes a population that is not used to the concept of being sick.” According to Washington endocrinologist James N. Ramey, “There’s no question that the emotions are severely out of whack.” Terry Taylor, acting chief of endocrinology at Georgetown University Medical Center described Graves’ patients: “Emotionally, they can be feeling very good and then very bad. There are a lot of ups and downs….They cry at TV ads.””It takes several half-lives to get the thyroid level in the blood down.” Therefore some patients take three months to feel like “their old selves,” and some take a year. Ms. Trafford recalls that on August 10, 1990, during the first week, of the Gulf crisis, when Bush left for his summer vacation in Maine, he was heard to say:
Life goes on. Gotta keep moving. Can’t stay in one place all the time. [fn 40]
According to the Textbook of Medical-Surgical Nursing by Lillian Sholtis Brunner and Doris Smith Suddarth, hyperthyroidism “may appear after an emotional shock, nervous strain, or an infection — but the exact significance of these relationships is not understood.” According to these authors, “patients with well-developed hyperthyroidism exhibit a characterstic group of symptoms and signs. Their presenting symptom is often nervousness. They are emotionally hyperexcitable; their state of mind is apt to be irritable and apprehensive; they cannot sit quietly; they suffer from palpitation; and their pulse is abnormally rapid at rest as well as on exertion.” The disease “may progress relentlessly, the untreated patient becoming emaciated, intensely nervous, delirious — even disoriented — and the heart eventually ‘racing itself to death.'” These authors also point out that “no treatment for hyperthyroidism has been discovered that combats its basic cause,” even though a number of forms of treatment are available. Within the context of treatment, the following “overview of nursing management” is recommended:
The objectives of nursing care are to assist the patient in overcoming his symptoms and to help him return to a euthyroid condition. The nurse maintains a calm manner and understands that much of his nervousness and anxiety is beyond his control. Activities to lessen the irritability of the nervous system may include the following: protecting the patient from stressful experiences, such as upsetting visitors or the presence of annoying or very ill patients; providing a cool and uncluttered environment; and encouraging the patient to enjoy pleasant music, light television entertainment, and interesting and relaxing hobbies. [fn 41]
This is hardly a description of the White House situation room.
During the course of this debate, newspapers printed summaries of substances which are thought to have an influence on thyroid activity. These included germs such as yersinia enterocolitica, certain types of retrovirus, lithium, iodine, and the so-called goitrogens. This last category includes chemicals found in vegetables such as broccoli and cabbage.
The New York Times of May 19 carried two letters to the editor on this subject. One, from Professor Franklin M. Loew, Dean of the Tufts University Veterinary School, recalled that vegetables of the brassica family, such as brussel sprouts, kale, and broccoli contain substances that may help to prevent Graves’ disease. The other letter reported that the popular guide, Prescription for Nutritional Healing, recommends plenty of broccoli to guard against the dangers of the overactive thyroid. All of this once again posed the question of Bush’s outbursts about broccoli, which may have been urged on his by physicians seeking a way to mitigate some of his symptoms.
Was Operation Desert Storm really Operation Thyroid Storm? On May 20, one of the most fanatical supporters of war against Iraq had attempted to pre-empt the discussion of the role of hyperthyroid mental instability in Bush’s military decisions. This was William Safire, who wrote:
Next, with more sinister intent, we can expect this question: To what extent was the President’s uncharacteristically activist mindset after the Iraqi invasion affected by a hyperthyroid condition? Was he hyper last August 2? Did the overactive gland affect his decision to launch the air war or the ground war early this year? [fn 43]
Bush himself had been asked to comment about this possibility. He replied that any idea that his warmongering in the Gulf had been facilitated by his thryoid disorder was “just plain, old- fashioned malarkey.” Before leaving on a visit to St. Paul, Minnesota, Bush protested that his health was fine. “I’m not wary, you know, wondering what happens next,” he said. It makes me happy everything’s okay. They diagnosed it right, treated it right, and there’s nothing more serious to it.” Just after he had boarded Air Force One at Andrews Air Force Base for his trip to the Twin Cities, Bush called reporters together and declared: “I just want to say everything’s fine.” Asked about any side effects of the five medicines he was then taking, Bush answered that his medication “affects my tummy. But it doesn’t affect my willingness and eagerness to get to the office.” In an apparent allusion to Lincoln’s celebrated comment on the alleged alcoholism of Gen. Grant, Bush even suggested that his thryoid excess may have been an advantage: “There’s a great man who suggested, ‘If that’s your problem, then get more thyroid problems because it went very well, indeed.'” [fn 44]
During June, there were hints from Bush and his retinue that he might not run for president again in 1992. This was largely a cynical public relations ploy, attempting to generate a story when it was clear that Bush was monomaniacally obsessed with holding onto power as long his he could and by any means. On a visit to Los Angeles, Bush alluded to this question, and tried to portray himself as a man whose sense of duty to the voters would only allow him to consider re-election if he were in perfect condition. Would he run again? “I haven’t decided. It’s too early. Don’t push me.” There was the testy note again. Any reasons why he might not? “Can’t really think of a reason except, certainly, health.”
I’d owe it to the American people to say, ‘Hey, I’m up for the job for four more years.’ I think [my] health’s in good enough shape to certify, but I want to take a look at it later on. I can’t tell you I feel perfect yet, but I’m getting there….I want to get off all this medicine. [fn 45]
I’m absolutely convinced on that one — if you had to ask me on that one today — I think health’s in good enough shape to certify, ‘Yeah.’ But I want to take a look at it later on. I don’t know. I’ve got a strong-willed wife. Oh, she’s strong. The Silver Fox, boy.
It wouldn’t be decided running from a battle. The fact if there’s a battle, and there will be, that would make me inclined to say I’m going to be a candidate. [fn 46]
As part of this same deception number, Barbara Bush also floated a trial balloon that George might renounce the second half of his birthright. Speaking of the period 1993-1997, Mrs. Bush told a reporter, “I wouldn’t mind if he gave [those years] to me. I wouldn’t mind if he didn’t, I would not be terribly disappointed if he didn’t run.” In the course of this interview, Mrs. Bush also revealed that George, despite his hyperthyroid treatment, was still manic enough to want to play golf at the crack of dawn: “Sometimes he says to me at 5 in the morning, “If you played golf we could go out and play right now.'” Mrs. Bush admitted that she was now taking golf lessons; “I want to be with George,” she explained. [fn 47]
But six weeks later, during the course of the Moscow summit, Mrs. Bush rose above her personal concerns to look historical necessity straight in the eye: “I really think he has to run again, honestly.” And why was that? “For the country’s sake. I think he’s got a lot left to do, and I think he has to. Now, I don’t want that to be a public announcement.” How about lingering doubts on Bush’s physical condition? “He is well. And you know myths get started, and we’ve got to stop it. The president is very well. He jogged on Sunday and played 18 holes of golf. Plus we had a large group for dinner. The president is great.” Repeating this line for ABC and NBC television, Mrs. Bush denied that she would try to talk George out of a bid for a second term. She suggested that such ideas were largely the creation of the press, a slightly disingenuous posture. [fn 48]
As for the burning issue of Dan Quayle’s precious bodily fluids, the tests ordered in May revealed that there was some lead in the old pipes at the Naval Observatory. Marilyn Quayle shared this vital intelligence with a group of Republican fat cats at a fundraiser in Orlando, Florida. “We’ve gotten some reports back that weren’t real heartening,” said Marilyn. “We had higher lead [levels] than what was supposed to be there in some of the different spigots, but it wasn’t all over the house. We want to have it redone because it didn’t make any sense.” But experts maintained that there is no connection between lead and Graves’ disease. [fn 49] Of course, lead-lined goblets and other drinking vessels used by the wealthy during the Roman Empire have sometimes been cited as a factor in the notable mental instability of many emperors.
In early August, Bush met with a group of perception pimps and other political advisers at his Camp David retreat. Pollster Bob Teeter was there, along with Robert Mosbacher, who was on the inside track to chair the campaign. Also present were Brady, Quayle, Sununu, William Kristol of Quayle’s staff, and media expert Roger Ailes. A few days earlier, Bush had stated that “only a health problem” might make him drop out, but “I don’t have one right now. On the same day, Burton Lee had certified Bush as being “in excellent health.” [fn 50] By late October, the Bushmen were already holding $1000-a-plate fundraising dinners, complete with Bush, Quayle, Mosbacher, and other heavies of the regime. Bush was running, with a vengeance.
Comparing the evidence adduced here so far about the etiology and symptoms of Basedow’s disease with Bush’s pattern of activity in 1988-1991, three general conclusions are suggested:
1. Since 1987-88 at the latest, George Bush has exhibited a marked tendency towards obsessive rage states, often expressed by compulsive public displays of extreme anger and lack of self- control. These obsessive rage states and the quasi-psychotic impulses behind them may be regarded as the probable psychological trigger for Basedow’s disease, a psychosomatic, autoimmune disorder.
2. There is much evidence that important decisions, including most notably Bush’s decisions militarily to attack Panama and Iraq, were substantially facilitated by these obsessive rage states.
3. There are indications that Bush’s inability to kill or capture Saddam Hussein, combined with his inability to destroy the Baath party government of Iraq, frustrated of one of Bush’s obsessive compulsions and may thus have contributed to a hyperthryoid crisis and the emergence of atrial fibrillation in early May of 1991. Alternatively, the accumulated tensions of the Gulf crisis, possibly in some combination with other events, may have been sufficient to precipitate Bush’s hospitalization.
The question that remains to be considered is whether Bush can be considered cured of the mental and physiological disorders involved with his hyperthyroid crisis. The answer is that Bush demonstrably continues to exhibit those symptoms of rage, irritability, uncontrollable outbursts, compulsive and frenetic activity, and impulsive decisions which we must conclude were part of the trigger for Basedow’s disease in the first place. During the first six months after Bush drank his cocktail of radioactive iodine, and he did not become any more tranquil. His agenda has remained packed, and his sports calendar frenetic. He still tends to make unpredictable snap decisions. He had often lost control of his emotions in public, most often through rage, but also through weeping and other forms of affective upheaval.
June 5: Bush addressed the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention in Atlanta, Georgia, and recounted his tearful Camp David decision to launch war in the Gulf. “And the tears started to roll down the cheeks, and our minister smiled back, and I no longer worried how it looked to others,” Bush told the Baptists. As viewed by Andrew Rosenthal of the New York Times, the scene proceeded as follows:
At that moment, Mr. Bush’s voice broke, and tears filled his eyes. He brushed at them with a finger. Then he turned to one of the cameras near the lectern, flashed one of the incongruous grins that often appear in his moments of emotional discomfort, and pointed to his cheek. “Here we go,” he said.
Mr. Bush confessed to reporters afterward that he felt a little embarrassed by his display of emotion before the delegates. “I do that in church,” he said. “Maybe in public it’s a kind of a first, or maybe a third.” [fn 51]
According to other accounts, Bush’s “voice cracked,” and he “grew husky and choked.”
June 16: Bush visited Los Angeles to attend a party thrown by Malibu producer Jerry Weintraub, who has been responsible for such films as “The Karate Kid” and “My Stepmother is an Alien.” Bush also played golf with Ronald Reagan, outdriving and outputting the aging former president. One press account suggests that Bush maintained his hyperhtyroid pace:
Apart from playing golf, Mr. Bush continued his usual mad dash of recreation. This morning, he was in such a hurry to get to a tennis game that his motorcade roared off without his personal aide, his personal physician, and, more important, the military officer who carries codes for launching nuclear missles. Unnerved by this omission, White House aides hurriedly rounded up transportation and sped the officer to the tennis courts.
During this trip, Bush also experienced a rage outburst set off by a reporter’s reference to the 1988 Newsweek cover that explored “the wimp factor.” This set Bush off as follows:
You’re talking to the wimp. You’re talking to the guy that had a cover of a national magazine that I’ll never forgive, put that label on me. [fn 52]
July 11-12: On July 11, Bush received a visit from Japanese Prime Minister Toshiki Kaifu at Kennebunkport. He was asked about senate hearings on his nomination of Robert Gates to be head of the CIA. (With anything but a rubberstamp Congress, the Gates nomination would have had to be seen as a gratuitous provocation. Gates had been up to his neck in Iran-contra and the coverup thereof, and had withdrawn during a previous attempt to occupy the same office. Now Bush was stirring up the Iran-contra affair once again. Washington rumor had it that Bush’s first choice for the post had been Don Gregg, and that Bush’s handlers had exahusted their energies in persuading Bush to renounce this even bigger provocation. When Bush had been forced to drop Gregg, he had insisted on Gates. Obsessions and hyperthyroidism had been at work in all this. Now Bush was asked about Gates: was his story credible that he knew nothing of illegal funds transfer when those above and below him in the chain of command knew all about it? Bush’s first comment was moderate in tone:
Doesn’t stretch my credibility because I believe firmly in Bob Gates’s word. And he’s a man of total honor, and he should be confirmed as Director of Central Intelligence. And when you have behind-doors, closed-door allegations that nobody really knows anything about, I’m not sure where the fairness element comes in on that one, Jim.
The next day, July 12, Bush engaged in a question and answer session with reporters. Bush was dressed in sporting togs, but today he was out of control. His first impulse was to escape from the reporters:
Hey, listen. I’ve got to go now. Heavy recreation coming up before we go abroad, so I’ve got to keep going.
He fought off some questions about Clarence Thomas allegedly smoking marijuana, commenting that this was not disqualifying. Then, there was a mention of Gates:
Q: Has Gates told you about-
That touched Bush’s obsession of the day. Gates had been accused of complicity in Iran-contra gun-running and drug running; but Bush himself had once again come under attack for his role in the October surprise conspiracy to delay the release of US hostages held in Teheran. Several days before, the former director of Central American affairs for the CIA, Alan Fiers, had admitted lying to Congress. Special prosecutor Lawrence Walsh was continuing his investigation, and it was now clear that the Senate would not vote on the Gates nomination until the autumn. At this point Bush broke in, and with a contorted face launched into an interminable enraged monologue, angrily brushing aside interruptions. The passages are worth reproducing here in detail because of the insight they afford into the workings of a tormented mind:
Bush: Let me say something on the Gates matter. What are we coming to here? You’re talking to somebody who had to prove his innocence –me–on the basis of rumor. It was alleged by people that we weren’t sure who they were, that I was in Paris at some deal to keep Americans in captivity. That’s what the allegation was against me. And I’m saying to myself, who’s making these allegations? What’s the evidence? What have we come to where a man has to prove his innocence against some fluid, movable charge?
And now I’m thinking about Bob Gates. And I’m saying: What is this all about? Isn’t the people that might be accusing him of something –shouldn’t it be their responsibility under the American system of fairplay? I have full confidence in him. But what is this system where we hear some leak in some newspaper that behind closed doors somebody has said something, and thus a lot of people run for cover?
I have confidence in Gates. And if somebody wants to accuse him of something, the Senate is absolutely right in getting that determination made and asking for the evidence, but they ought not to have it obscured by some testimony that’s been going on for four years. They ought not to accept a rumor. They ought not to panic and run like a covey of quail because somebody has made an allegation against a man whose work I trust and who, as I understand it, hasn’t been fingered by what’s coming out of this process.
And so, I’m glad this has come up again because I think what we’re entitled to in this country is fairplay, innocence until guilty. And yes, the Senate has an obligation, but let’s call these witnesses that are supposed to know something bad. Isn’t Bob Gates entitled to that? I mean, why let them run for cover and say let’s hang it out all over next summer? Now, if Gates wants to do that, that’s fine. But if somebody asked me about it, I’d say, hey, get the men up there that are making these —
Q: We don’t understand–
Bush: Excuse me — get the men up there that are making these allegations. Isn’t that the American system of justice? What is it when we hear something leaked to a newspaper and we all run for cover because we’re — not me, because I know Bob Gates and I have total confidence in the man’s integrity and honor. And if the Senate wants — and the Senate, I think, now owes it to him to promptly call his accusers or those who they think — who we understand from newspaper articles are supposedly making accusations against him. And don’t let them stay under cover, “well, we can’t do that because we have this other ongoing testimony” or some behind- closed-doors, what do they call these –indictment proceedings going on. That’s not the American way.
We sent this nomination up some time ago. And if everybody’s going to get flustered and panic because of some allegation by some — where we don’t even know that the person is accusing him of anything — all I’m saying is fairplay. The American —
Q: Do you think–
Bush: May I finish? The American people understand fairplay. And I just hope the Senate will keep this in mind. I have no argument with Senator Boren, Senator Murkowski wanting to get to the bottom of it. But this idea that it will be served by leaving it out all summer — you know and I know there will be questions every single day — what about this allegation? What about that? All I’m saying is, from everything I’ve seen, yes, let’s get to the bottom of it, but lets’ bring forward these people that are supposedly fingering him. Let’s bring forward and let them stand there under oath before the Senate, as I think the Senate intends to do. But why wait? Why not — this nomination has been there a long time, and now we’re hearing that there’s some process going on behind-closed-doors someplace by some witness who hasn’t fingered Gates, but that’s enough to hold this up.
If Bob Gates wants to hold it up, fine. If he says to me we want to delay it, fine. But other than that, let the American system of fairplay work. Let innocence until proven guilty be the guideline here. And let promptness– we need a good– a new Director to follow on an excellent Director, and we need it soon, to run this intelligence community.
So, that’s my position. And I’m glad, Jim, that you raised it again because I really feel strongly about this. I just don’t think it’s the American way to bring a good man down by rumor and insinuation. That’s not the system.
After several more questions and answers on Gates, there was a question on a move afoot in the House to launch the first formal investigation of the October surprise affair, including Bush’s role. Was it a fishing expedition?
Bush: Well, I wouldn’t accuse the Speaker of that. The man –he’s another one that’s– too much integrity to be in that mode. I think he’s in a difficult position. But let’s see the evidence, bring it forth. If they’re still charging that I was in Paris on october 20th, if it’s that kind of case, fine. But the evidence is –what happened– you know, here’s a good case. All this rumor, can’t quite pin it down, but as Vice President, the President — now President – – was supposed to have been in Paris in the month of October, specifically on October 20th. Who’s accusing me? Well, nobody’s really accusing you of it, but every paper’s got it.
We come forth with evidence which includes almost minute-by- minute certification as to where I was, and then they say, well, maybe that’s laid to rest, but somebody else is supposed to have been someplace else. Maybe the way to lay it to rest is through what Foley’s talking about. And if he decides that, look, he’ll have full cooperation from me. How long can you keep denying your knowledge or involvement on something that didn’t happen, as far as I know? But maybe he’s got some other evidence. But it just seems a little wierd that it keeps going. You shoot down one thing, and somebody else raises another.
Q: Are you certain that Casey had no dealings that could be interpreted —
Bush: I have no knowledge of what Casey can do, or did do. The man’s dead. Let’s have some more interviews with a dead man. You know what I mean? Get it? (Laughter).
Q: I think so. (Laughter)
Q: Mr. President, to clear —
Bush: Hey, I’ve got to go fishing, it’s much more important than doing this. Yes, Helen? No.
Q: Mr. President, to clear the air and get everything out in the open, could you order the release of the CIA telephone conversations?
Bush: I’m leaving all this in the hands of the legal authorities and I am not going to intervene in a court proceeding. I am not a lawyer. I don’t want to have some 22-year old prosecutor jump up and say that the President has — (Laughter)– frustrated the process here. I don’t know enough about that. You’ve got good lawyers that do. I don’t know enough about scheduling or how evidence before grand juries work, and I’m disinclined to learn. But I do know a little something about fairplay. And all I’m trying to say is, let’s revert to that standard. Let’s use that as the guide here and not get caught up in some niggling, legal point.
I’m seeing a man’s character getting damaged, just as I feel mine was challenged when they said, hey, prove your innocence. You’re guilty until innocent. Prove you weren’t in Paris on — whatever the hell it was — October 20th. And here he went to the front yard at 10:22. He was at the so-and-so embassy at 10:27. He was so and so. And finally, well, that one just fades into the sunset and along comes a bunch of other allegations by unnamed people that you can’t find and can’t put your — like reaching out and touching a handful of whipped cream, you can’t get ahold of it. I don’t want to –I’ve been through a little bit– but I don’t want to see Bob Gates, a man of honor and integrity, go through it anymore. That’s all I’m trying to say.
Thank you. Have a neat day. [fn 53]
July 20: Bush was on a foreign trip that included a meeting with Mitterrand in Rambouillet, near Paris, the G-7 meeting in London, and a trip to Turkey and Greece. According to press accounts, he was examined every day by Burton Lee. As one journalist travelling with Bush’s party tells it, “Toward the end of the trip, [Bush] looked tired. Last Saturday [July 20], he could not recall the details of a speech he was to give in two days. ‘It’s a speech in the Rose Garden to some special group,’ he told a news conference. ‘Don’t ask me any more.'”
On Sunday, taking questions from reporters while posing for photographs with Suleyman Demirel, leader of a Turkish opposition party, Bush testily objected to the tone of an American radio reporter’s question. “Now, wait a minute,” Bush said. You don’t ask in that tone; just ask the question.” [fn 54]
July 23: At a White House meeting with GOP leaders, even the New York Times could not ignore Bush’s “apparent irritation” on the Gates issue, a leading Bush obsession. Bush was still furious about Gates being left to twist in the wind all summer. “I think the man deserves to be confirmed, and I’ve seen nothing other than innuendo and reports that he must have known this or something. I don’t want to get started. [Understandable, after his previous nonstop rage monologue.] I told the cabinet yesterday how strongly I feel about this and so I will stand by this man.” [fn 56]
August 2: One day after returning to Washington from the Moscow summit, Bush gave a news conference in the Rose Garden that was heavily colored by obsessive rage, as can be seen from a front-page photograph in the next day’s Washington Post, which shows him snarling and gesticulating. Bush’s main theme was an attack on the Congress, “a Congress that is frustratingly negative on everything.” “I’m getting fired up thinking about it, Bush said. He then launched into a tirade:
We’ve got excellent programs, and the only way when the other party controls the Congress is to defeat some of their lousy ideas and then keep saying to the American people, ‘Have your congressman try the president’s ideas. We need more farsighted people like me in Congress.
So please, American people, — let me look over this way — please, do not listen to the charges by frantic Democrats who are trying to say we don’t have a domestic policy when we have a good one. Give it a chance. Let the president’s programs come up, and let’s have some support for what he was elected to do.
According to Bush, the Democrats “seem to have a concerted policy…to tear down the president.” Asked about possible Democratic presidential candidates meeting with the widow of his family benefactor, Bush responded with muted anger, “These fellows who are very nice, very pleasant — all go down to Pamela Harriman’s farm down here, the bastion of democracy, and come back and tell me that we don’t have a domestic program. C’mon. Lighten up out there.” After the long diatribes, it was perhaps not surprising that someone asked Bush how he was feeling. “Right now, I feel like a million bucks,” he replied. But he was adamant that it was time for his vacation: “I’m history…It’s going to be a vacation. I think I’ve earned it, like a lot of Americans, and I’m looking forward to it. And it will not be denied.” [fn 55]
August 14: Bush’s rage profile was once more on display as he called for an extension of the federal death penalty in a Pittsburgh speech that was also full of racist overtones. Addressing the National Convention of the Fraternal Order of Police, Bush ranted that “the time has come to show less compassion for the architects of crime and more compassion for its victims. Our citizens want and deserve to feel safe.” “We must remember that the first obligation of a penal system is to punish those who break our laws….You can’t turn bad people into saints.” Bush wanted courts to be able to use evidence that had been seized illegally: “There’s no reason — none at all– that good police officers should be penalized and criminals freed because a judge or a lawyer bungled a search warrant.” Journalists noted that the speech and the setting were typical of the standard campaign event of 1988, which was often a police group endorsing Bush, courtesy of the CIA Office of Security. The photo of Bush in the Washington Post is expressive of Bush’s anger when making the speech. [fn 57]
August 21: The Soviet putsch was a trying time for Bush, who staked a great deal on his deal with Gorbachov. A remarkable flare- up by Bush came in response to the opinion expressed by Zviad Gamsakhurdia, the president of the Republic of Georgia, that Gorbachov was part of the conspiracy behind the coup. Bush, asked for a reaction, was incensed:
Bush: –say to him he needs to get a little work done on the kind of statements he’s making. I mean that’s ridiculous. There’s a man who has been also swimming against the tide, it seems to me, a little bit. And I don’t want to go overboard on this, but he ought to get with it and understand what’s happening around the world.
Q: Are you saying that–
Bush: To suggest that President Gorbachov would plot to put the people of the Soviet Union through this kind of trauma and the rest of the world through it just makes absolutely no sense at all. Now, I haven’t heard him say that, so I want to hedge it. You’ve told me he said it; I haven’t heard it. So, I’ve got to be very careful I don’t react to something that may not be true. I learned that one a long time ago.
Here we can see that Bush pulled himself together just enough to leave himself an escape hatch after he had blown his top.
September 11: In a photo opportunity with Congressmen in which he was asked about his demand that the Congress postpone a vote on loan guarantees for Israel until January, 1992, so as to permit a Middle East peace conference to take place in the meantime, Bush showed flareups of rage. Bush’s ploy was widely thought to be part of the preparation of an Israeli “breakaway ally” scenario, in which Israel, defying the wishes of Washington, would wage war against Jordan, mass-deport the Palestinians, and possibly attack other Arab states. Bush had been accused of anti-semitism by a minority member of the Israeli cabinet. Was he going to lose a confrontation with the formidable Zionist lobby? This issue was Bush’s obsession of the moment; his reply was testy and full of veiled threats: “Well, I don’t know what you mean by lose on it. What I’m for is the peace process to be successful, and we’re working diligently for that. […] And so, what I’m suggesting is a simple delay here, in my view and in the view of all of us in the administration, is the best way to set the proper tone for these talks to start. And I feel very strongly about it. So, it’s not a question of winning or losing in my view. Strong-willed people look at these matters differently. My view is that a delay is in the interest, and I’m going to fight for it. And I think the American people will back me on it if we take the case to the people. But what we’re really trying to do is work it out without getting into a lot of confrontation.” Was a confrontation not already taking place ? Bush answered, with his rage quotient rising: “I can take quite a few punches. We’re talking about working harmoniously together in the spirit of cooperation. And I’ve seen comments from abroad that I didn’t particularly appreciate. But we’re the United States of America, and we have a leadership role around the world that has to be fulfilled. And I’m calling the shots in this question in the way that I think is best. And I’ve got some selling to do with certain Members of Congress, and that’s understandable to me. So, we’ll see how it comes out. But I’m not approaching this in the spirit of confrontation if that’s the question. You haven’t seen any real controversial statements coming out of here up till now.”
September 12: At a press conference, the issue of the Israeli loan guarantee postponement was once again the central theme. Bush was in a controlled rage state during his opening statement, and went ballistic during the questioning. A questioner noted that Bush sounded “very tough” on insisting on the delay. Bush:
I just sound principled. I am convinced that this debate would be counterproductive to peace. And I owe it to the Member of Congress to say it as forcefully as I can. I’ve worn out of the telephone in there and one ear, and I’m going to move to the other ear and keep on it. Because this is, peace is vital here, and we’ve worked too hard to have that request of mine denied. And I think the American people will support me. They know we support Israel. I’ve just detailed some of what we’ve done. So, there should be no question about that. I am giving the Congress — and I did it with the leaders today, having an opportunity here, thank you, to do it here- – to give my best judgment. And I’m up against some powerful political forces, but I owe it to the American people to tell them how strongly I feel about the deferral.
Q: Are those powerful political forces ungrateful for what you’ve done so far on a peace process? And why doesn’t the peace argument sell with them?
Bush: I think it will sell, but it’s taken a little time. And we’re up against a very strong and effective, sometimes, groups that go up to the Hill. I heard today there was something like a thousand lobbyists on the Hill working the other side of the question. We’ve got one lonely little guy down here doing it. However, I like this forum better too.
This last passage was suffused with apoplectic fury. In the next question, Bush was asked if a columnist was right in commenting on Bush’s stance, “It’s your obsession.” Bush denied it, but it was clear to all that he was both enraged and obsessed. [52 bis]
Later Bush and his handlers concluded that he had overdone it, especially in his attack on the 1,000 Zionist lobbyists, and sent a letter to the heads of several Jewish organizations repeating his demand for the delay, but also saying that he was “concerned” lest his September 10 comments might have “caused apprehension” in the Jewish community; Bush reassured them that he “never meant to be pejorative in any sense.” In a news analysis published 8 days later, a Washington Post observer found that Bush’s “ardor is fueled by his anger,” and quoted an unnamed official that for Bush the issue of Jewish settlements in the occupied territories was “a visceral thing.” [fn 58]
September 18: In a demagogic photo opportunity at the Grand Canyon, Bush again threatened to renew the bombing of Iraq. In remarks that recalled his psychotic rages against Saddam Hussein during the Gulf crisis, Bush raved that he was “fed up” with Saddam. Bush said that Saddam “may be testing and probing” his resolve, “but he knows better than to take on the United States of America.” “I think the man will see that we are very serious about this, and he will do what he should have done in the first place: disclose and comply.”
October 11: Hoping that public attention was fixed on the Senate testimony of Anita Hill, Bush vetoed a bill to extend unemployment payments to more than 2 million Americans whose jobless benefits had run out. Bush had prepared this veto with a furious outburst against such an extension. At a $1000-a-plate Republican fundraising dinner in New Brunswick, New Jersey, Bush had lashed out angrily at a Congress which was “doing nothing but griping — refusing to consider the new ideas and sending me a bunch of garbage I will not sign. I’ll continue to veto the bad stuff until we get good bills.” Bush’s argument was that the prolonged unemployment benefits were not needed because the recession was over anyway. He stressed his responsibility not to break the October, 1990 budget agreement, which by that time was producing a budget deficit officially admitted to be over $1 billion per day. Later, as the existence of the depression began to penetrate the public consciousness, Bush had to backtrack on this tirade. [fn 61]
October 24: Attempting to focus public anger on Congress in the wake of the Clarence Thomas hearings, Bush attacked the lawmakers as “a privileged class of rulers.” “When Congress exempts itself from the very laws it writes for others, it strikes at its own reputation and shatters public confidence in government,” he said. This was a transparent bid to increase police-state attacks on the Congress by subjecting the legislative branch to the oversight of law enforcement agencies which are part of the executive, a favorite Bush obsession. Bush demanded a special prosecutor to investigate the leaks of FBI information during the Thomas hearings, and said that FBI reports would henceforth only be shown, not given to the Hill. As Bush read through his tirade, his face twisted and tightened into a mask of rage and hate. At one point, perhaps in response to signals from his handlers, he paused and apologized to the audience for getting so worked up, but the issue meant a lot to him. [fn 62]
October 30: Commenting on Bush’s surprising acceptance of a compromise civil rights bill, Evans and Novak report that “Bush’s capitulation on racial quotas has again chilled conservative Republicans still suffering from the year-old wound of his tax retreat.” The columnists quote Democratic Rep. Vin Weber saying that “It’s a sign that their reactions in times of crisis are not good.” [fn 63] For months, Bush had sought to attack this legislation as a quota bill, and it was clear that he was preparing to use this as a way to inject racism into his 1992 campaign. Indeed, the racism/quota issue was widely seen as one of the few domestic wedge issues Bush could use for his campaign: his plan was to tell the white middle class that their economic decimation was the fault of blacks and other minorities benefitting from affirmative action programs. Then, in the wake of the Thomas hearings, he accepted a compromise and lost the issue. Was this an impulsive, hyperthyroid decision?
October 31: Bush held the first official event of his re-election campaign on Halloween; it was a $1000-a-plate fundraiser at the Sheraton Astrodome in Houston. Bush offered an irate defense of his tenure in the presidency. But the audience of 800 GOP fat cats gave Bush only a tepid response. In the words of Elizabeth Ray, a local Republican candidate for district judge, “I thought the dinner was very subdued. Halfway into [Bush’s] speech, people were still not clapping at some of the traditional times, and I thought to myself, ‘This is a very odd crowd.'” “It wasn’t a pep rally,” agreed her husband, a Houston business consultant. The heart of Bush’s highly piqued performance was in these lines:
Anyone who says we should retreat into an isolationistic cocoon is living in the last century, when we should be focused on the next century and the lives our children will lead. And they should know America’s destiny has always been to lead. And if I have anything to do with it, lead we will…I’m not going to let liberal Democratic carping keep me from leading.
When Bush said “carping,” he seemed to spit and hiss at the same time. Then, with his bile and andrenaline building to a crescendo of rage, Bush recalled the Gulf war and how far Schwarzkopf would have gotten if Congress had been in command. “Thank God I didn’t have to listen to these carpers telling me how to run that war,” Bush exploded in a paroxysm of fury. The implication was also clear: to checkmate Congress, go to war.
It was during this trip to Texas that Bush began spouting his favorite anticyclical line, that it was a great time to buy a house and to buy a car. Many people across America thought that they were having enough trouble buying groceries.
Bush’s outburst this time reflected the rising tide of public awareness of the economic depression, and demands that he change his policy. Senator Mitchell had assailed Bush with unusual energy, noting that “President Bush’s record for economic growth and job creation is worse than for any other president since Herbert Hoover. During Bush’s presidency, our country has grown at a slower rate, with fewer jobs created than during any other presidency in the past 60 years.” That hurt. Secretary Brady was later sent out to complain that he could not “understand why it is a function of leadership to try and remind the people in this country of the recession and Herbert Hoover.” [fn 64] Brady was afraid even of the word, “depression.” Earlier the same day Bush had taken part in a “virtual political brawl” in the cabinet room over the impact of the depression on politics, with predictions of the defeat of Bush’s candidate, administrative fascist Richard Thornburgh, in the all-important Pennsylvania senate race. Bush’s response had been primarily one of recrimination, judging from published accounts: he excoriated Republican congressional leaders for not toeing his line in the October, 1990 budget battles. Bush told these leaders that he did not think he could depend on Congressional Republicans voting with him if an economic package also contained new taxes. The meeting had been tense and acrimonious. [fn 65]
A comment in Newsweek noted that “at a Houston fund-raising banquet last week, the president sounded downright petulant discussing the economy, as if he’d been forced to eat broccoli for dinner.” [fn 66]
November 2: Bush’s psychological stability was further impacted by the devastation of his home at Walker’s Point, in Kennebunkport, Maine, by a severe Atlantic storm. Because he was under fire for representing only the wealthy, he flew to Maine on a small executive jet, the military equivalent of a Grumman Gulfstream, rather than using Air Force One, a Boeing 747. The furniture and some walls on the ground floor were destroyed, and there was a considerable loss of family memorabilia. Bush found a photograph of father Prescott in a swampy area several hundred feet from the house. “It’s devastating.” “I can’t believe it,” said Bush. “A lot of this [was] stuff that you would call dear, not valuable, but things we bought in China or different trips. It’s personal. You’ll see ’em floating around out here.” Bush also referred mystically to the importance of rebuilding and keeping a home by the ocean: “We’ll be here. It means something to us. It’s our family strength, being this close to the ocean. We’ll figure it out.” Bushwatchers sensed that Bush’s mental instability could only be exacerbated by this trauma. [fn 67] Bush once again looked ghastly on this outing, and about as old as King Canute.
November 5: This was election day, and exit polls in the late afternoon showed a decisive defeat of Thornburgh in Pennsylvania, reflecting rising popular resentment of the Bush regime. The next day, Bush was scheduled to depart for a NATO meeting and Rome and then for a meeting with the leaders of the European Community in The Hague. But, abruptly and in time for the evening news programs, Bush announced that he was cancelling a later 10-day trip that was scheduled to have taken him to Japan, South Korea, Singapore, and Australia. The rationale offered for this reversal was that Bush wanted to stay in Washington until the end of November and work on getting his “domestic legislative package” through Congress. This explanation was incongruous for at least two reasons: first, the Congressional leadership clearly hoped to adjourn and go home for Thanksgiving recess by the time that Bush’s scheduled trip to the Orient was to have begun. Secondly, Bush had no domestic legislative package.
Some of Bush’s closest associates were dismayed by his rapid collapse under pressure. “It makes it look like the Democrats have us on the total run,” one senior administration official told the Washington Post. “This is ridiculous. We look like we’re running around like chickens with our heads cut off,” said a GOP official with close ties to the White House. The impression was that Bush had panicked when he became aware that the Democratic National Committee had produced a t-shirt celebrating Bush’s “Anywhere but America Tour,” listing trips completed and planned during 1991. Bush, who was watching his own support and popularity decline inexorably in the polls, had apparently been stampeded by the defeat of Thornburgh and wanted to propitiate public opinion by staying home. It looked very much like a hyperthyroid decision.
This impression was magnified by the chaotic way that Bush’s cancellation became known. According to the Washington Post “the shock of Bush’s decision was intensified in Washington and Asia by the manner of its revelation. A White House official involved in trip planning said he heard of the postponement late Tuesday after a high-level meeting and just minutes before learning that NBC News had obtained the story, which was broadcast on its evening news program. Several Asian embassies in Washington heard the news from the press reports before receiving official word from the White House.” On the way to Rome the next day, Bush was heard to complain about what he perhaps considered a leak: “You got the message oozed out of the White House before we had a chance to properly notify the parties,” he berated the press on board Air Force One. “You guys are too good.” [fn 68]
Sometime during October, Bush had discussed with his handlers the possibility of cancelling the Asia trip while simultaneously proposing a set of measures allegedly designed to improve economic conditions, and challenging the Congress to stay in town long enough to pass this package. But Bush had been unable to assemble any such set of measures. One GOP official complained that Bush’s announcement late on election day, 1991 was “a cancellation without a purpose. This is nuts.” [fn 69] This Asian trip, featuring a stopover in Japan, was later re-scheduled to start on December 30 and to extend through the first week of the New Year. It was during this trip that Bush vomited and collapsed to the floor during a state dinner with Japanese Prime Minister Miyazawa.
November 6: On the morning after the election, Bush had announced a 6:40 AM press conference in order to put on a demagogic show of concern for the plight of those born on the wrong side of the tracks before jetting off to a NATO summit in Rome. He admitted that he was “depressed” over the defeat of Thornburgh because the latter was such a good man. He lamely tried to explain his decision to remain in Washington at the end of the month as based on his experience that “all kinds of crazy things can happen with this crowd that controls the Senate and House.” But Bush had another big flip-flop to offer: although he still denied the existence of a “recession,” he was now concerned about “people that are hurting,” and for these he was willing to “go the extra mile.” He was now seeking a compromise bill to extend unemployment benefits. Within a week, a compromise had been reached with most of the concessions coming from Bush, on the model of the civil rights bill. Was it another impuslive, hyperthyroid moment? [fn 70]
November 7: During his address to the NATO summit of 16 heads of state and heads of government, Bush departed from his prepared text and inserted the following sentence off the cuff into his remarks:
If, my friends, your ultimate aim is to provide independently for your own defense, the time to tell us is today.
This was in many respects the most astounding threat ever made by an American president to the leaders of the North Atlantic Alliance, which had always been considered, since 1949, as the cornerstone of US foreign policy. Bush now called the Atlantic Pact into question, apparently in a fit of rage. Press reports spoke of “clouds of suspicion” separating Bush from France and Germany; the State Department and the British were known to be hysterical about plans to expand the exisiting Franco-German brigade into a larger unit. US officials told one reporter that Bush had become “exasperated” by the Byzantine tactics of Tonton Mitterrand, known in Paris as “Le Florentin” in a misguided tribute to Machiavelli. These frictions apparently had contributed to Bush’s outburst. James Baker and other spin doctors tried to play down the importance of this shocking episode. [fn 71]
November 8: At a press conference in Rome, Bush turned in yet another furious tantrum. The basic issues were that his travel obsession had been denied, and that he did not want to brook increasing criticism. Bush “complained bitterly” that he had been forced to abandon his prized trip to Asia owing to “some carping by people that don’t understand” his awesome responsibilities as world leader. Bush angrily maintained that to be “driven away” from an Asia trip “by people holding up silly T-shirts is ridiculous.” As one journalist saw the scene, “Bush, his voice rising and eyelids narrowing, talked at length about a president’s responsibilities in foreign policy and the importance of Japan to American jobs. His passionate response contained an undercurrent of regret that he approved the cancellation that some Republicans said this week was precipitous and too reactive to the Democrats.” Had calling off the trip somehow interfered with Bush’s plans for unleashing the next war? Bush reverted to his favorite theme of his war leadership: “If I had had to listen to advice” of Congressional Democrats “to do something about the Persian Gulf, we’d have still been sitting there in the United States, fat, dumb, and happy, with Saddam Hussein maybe in Saudi Arabia.” Bush also continued to deny the depression: “I’m not prepared to say we’re in recession.” For him, an alleged growth rate of 2.4% “is not recession. It does not fit the definition of recession.” [fn 72]
November 12: Bush’s countenance was once more a mask of rage, venom, and hatred as he stumbled through another $1000-a-plate Republican fundraising dinner in Manhattan. He appeared thin and drawn. The take for Bush’s campaign was estimated at $2.2 million, but press reports indicated that Bush’s enraged monologue “prompted little applause or enthusiasm as the president moved from one topic to another, rarely devoting more than a few seconds to any theme.” Bush’s delivery was halting and confused, with signs of evident dissociation and a truncated attention span. The essence of the speech was a paranoid, self-righteous defense against critics named and unnamed. Bush labelled his tormentors as “tawdry,” “phony,” and “second- guessers.” He pounded the lectern as he ranted, “I’m not going to be the javelin-catcher for the liberals in Congress anymore.” “I am not going to apologize for one minute that I devote to advancing our economic principles aborad or working for world peace,” postured the president of two wars and counting.
November 12: Bush, speaking in New York and fumbling for bits of demagogy on the economic situation, expressed a vague desire to see lower interest rates for credit card holders. Many observers say that the two sentences on this topic uttered by Bush that day had been interpolated by chief of staff Sununu; Sununu later accused Bush of having ad-libbed the pronouncement on his own initiative. One day later, the Senate overwhelmingly approved a bill to cap credit card interest rates. With this, the secondary market in credit card debt collapsed, threatening to blow off the coverup of the bankruptcy of the largest US banks. On Friday, November 15, the Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 4% of its value within a few hours, the biggest collapse since October 13, 1989. Bush, running for cover, hastily despatched Treasury Secretary Brady to denounce the interest cap as “wacky.” It was yet another impulsive volte-face by the erratic and unstable Bush.
November 20: With Bush scheduled to sign a civil rights bill containing provisions which Bush had stigmatized as quotas and sworn he would resist to the death, the White House circulated a directive to federal agencies mandating the termination of all hiring policies designed to favor minority groups or women. Bush had not wanted any civil rights bill to be passed, preferring to keep the race issue in his quiver for the 1992 election, but he had been intimidated by the threat that Sen. Danforth and other Republicans would support a Democrat-sponsored bill, leaving Bush painfully isolated. That had already been an impulsive decision.
Now Bush’s attempted sleight of hand, signing a bill and simultaneously removing the hiring policies, caused a furore. “The president would have to lose his mind to make this statement,” said Kerry Scanlon, a lawyer for the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund. Within hours, the offending directive had been withdrawn, and blamed exclusively on Boy Gray, the White House resident racist who had indeed drafted the directive, but on instructions from Bush. It was yet another example of an impulsive snap decision made by Bush under pressure. Intriguingly, November 20 was also the day that Bush personally pronounced the much-tabooed word: “DEPRESSION.” “I don’t want to emphasize just the bad things, to talk us into a depression,” he had told some television stations owned by NBC. It was a landmark: presidents had made that word taboo for many decades. [fn 73]
Towards the end of November, the pendulum of Bush’s unpredictability had swing back: the Asia trip was being rescheduled for about a month later than originally planned. By now, the media were harping on the evident “disarray” in the White House, but none seemed to recall the thyroid episode of the springtime, nor the psychopathological trigger for the thyroid condition.
Sometime during November, just about the time his approval ratings were about to go below 50%, Bush apparently received urgent advice to moderate his “mad dog” public profile in favor of a more conciliatory and affable posture. This occurred during the same month. 0hatever the details that led to the renovation of his image, he now began to exhibit concern for the victims of the Bush depression who, according to his litany, he now understood were “hurting.” He began smiling more, and hissing somewhat less. Photo opportunities began to depict him fraternizing with the common people.
But that postponed Far East trip continued to loom as Bush’s nemesis. Because of his desire to be seen doing something to improve the lot of the comman man, Bush’s handlers repackaged this trip as a crusade to open foreign markets to US exports, thus helping to defend American jobs. Bush accordingly took along the widely discredited top executives of GM, Ford, and Chrysler to symbolize his committment to the moribund US auto industry. These figures functioned like a Greek chorus of negative spin, pointing up Bush’s misadventures and failures. The most outspoken of the Big Three bosses was predictably Chrysler’s Lee Iacocca, of whom one reporter said that he would probably complain if the sun came up.
Bush displayed decided mental instability during this trip. In Canberra, Australia, he flashed a well-known obscene gesture to a group of farmers who were protesting his “free trade” farm policies. Bush told a luncheon cruise in Sydney harbor, “I’m a man that knows every hand gesture you’ve ever seen– and I haven’t learned a new one since I’ve been here.” As the Washington Post reported, “Down here, holding up the first two fingers to form a “V” with the back of the hand toward the subject is the same as holding up the middle finger in the United States. And that’s just what Bush did from his limousine to a group of protesters as his motorcade passed through Canberra yesterday, apparently not knowing its significance. Or maybe he did.” [fn 74] One is reminded of Nelson Rockefeller’s antics on at least one occasion.
Then came Bush’s visit to Japan, crowned by his seizure at a state dinner in the official residence of Prime Minister Miyazawa. Bush had vomited at least once before the dinner. “I got a preview in the receiving line. I turned to the prime minister and said, ‘Would you please excuse me,’ and I rushed into the men’s room there. And I thought that had taken care of it, but back I came. It hadn’t been halted. It was just the beginning.” [fn 75] According to Treasury Secretary Brady, Bush had been urged to skip the state dinner altogether by his personal physician, Dr. Burton Lee, but Bush had rejected this advice out of hand, saying that his absence would “disrupt” the proceedings. [fn 76] After the vomiting and fainting scene was over, Bush was asked if he intended to slow down. “Nope,” Bush retorted. It’s just a 24-hour flu.” [fn 77] The truth about Bush’s collapse in Tokyo has yet to be told; but it was clear that Bush had learned nothing, and was still determined to impose his will on the universe. Bush’s first efforts at campaign oratory after his return from Japan indicated that rage was once again winning the upper hand, which was not a good sign for Bush’s ability to function on the campaign trail.
In the light of the evidence reviewed here, it is evident that Bush’s marked tendency towards rage episodes, public fits of anger, and obsessive fixations has not subsided. Indeed, Bush’s uncontrollable temper tantrums have been if anything more severe during October and November, 1991, as his presidency began to buckle under the strain of the economic depression Bush was unable and unwilling to overcome. We must therefore conclude that the treatment received by Bush for his thyroid condition during May, 1991 and the successive months has not remedied the mental and cognitive disturbances which were at the root of Bush’s psychosomatic affliction, Basedow’s disease. This means that Bush’s health, and most especially his mental health, must be considered a decisive issue for the 1992 presidential campaign. Citizens must accordingly set aside White House propaganda statements and carefully consider the advisability of returning to the White House an individual who has demonstrably experienced psychotic episodes during his tenure in the White House, and who has presented no convincing evidence of remission.
Return to the Table of Contents
1. “Tough and Tender Talk,” People Weekly, December 17, 1990, p. 52.
2. Anton Chaitkin, Treason in America, (New York, 1985), p. 476 ff.
3. Cited in Chaitkin, p. 478.
4. Elizabeth Drew, Portrait of an Election, (New York, 1981), p. 106.
5. J.D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye, (New York: Bantam, 1986), p. 1.
6. F. Scott Fitzgerald, This Side of Paradise, New York: Scribners, 1960), p. 128.
7. Mary McGrory, “The Babbling Bush,” Washington Post, September 29, 1988.
8. Mary McGrory, loc. cit.
9. Maureen Dowd, “The Language Thing,” The New York Times Magazine, July 29, 1990.
10. Maureen Dowd, loc. cit.
11. Maureen Dowd, loc. cit.
12. David Hoffman, “Reading Bush’s Lips,” Washington Post, December 4, 1988.
13. Maureen Dowd, op. cit.
14. David Hoffman, op. cit.
15. David Hoffman, loc. cit.
16. David Hoffman, loc. cit.
17. Maureen Dowd, op. cit.
18. David Hoffman, op. cit.
19. Maureen Dowd, op. cit.
20. “Bush to News Media: Mum’s Going to Be the Word,” Washington Post,> February 16, 1990.
21. “Bush Tells ‘Slovenly’ Press to Shape Up,” Washington Post, May 13, 1990.
22. “Transitioning in Florida,” Washington Post, November 12, 1988.
23. Gil Klein, “Bush Not Man to Sit Still,” Media General Newspapers for the Sherman, Texas Democrat, September 7, 1989.
24. Dan Balz, “The 18-Hole Drive to Play on Par With the President,” Washington Post, Sept. 3, 1990.
25. David Hoffman, “See How He Plays,” Washington Post, September 3, 1989.
26. “Peripatetic Bush to Break Nixon Travel Record,” Washington Post,> July 27, 1991.
27. George Bush and Vic Gold, Looking Forward (New York: Doubleday, 1987), p. 11-12.
28. “Bush Has ‘Early Glaucoma’ In Left Eye, Tests Disclose,” Washington Post, April 13, 1990.
29. “President Assails Silencing of Unpopular Viewpoints,” Washington Post, May 5, 1991.
30. “Bush Diagnosis: Thyroid Ailment,” Washington Post, May 8, 1991.
31. “The Path to Diagnosis of the President’s Ailment,” Washington Post, May 11, 1991.
32. Washington Post, May 10, 1991.
33. New York Times, May 29, 1991.
34. New York Times>, May 22, 1991.
35. Washington Times, May 29, 1991.
36. Mary McGrory, “China and an Imperial President,” Washington Post,> May 30, 1991.
37. Washington Post, September 6, 1991.
38. “Bush Gets ‘Medical Stamp of Approval’ for ’92,” Washington Post,> September 14, 1991.
39. Lawrence K. Altman, MD, “President’s Thyroid: Questions of Mood,” New York Times, May 21, 1991.
40. Abigail Trafford, “Me, Bush and Graves’ Disease,” Washington Post,> May 21, 1991.
41. Lillian Sholtis Brunner and Doris Smith Suddarth, >Textbook of Medical-Surgical Nursing (Philadelphia: Lippincott, 1964), pp. 796, 798.
43. William Safire, “After the Flutter,” New York Times, May 20, 1991.
44. “President is Bouyant About Health, Work,” Washington Post, May 23, 1991.
45. “Bush Drops Hint He Won’t Run in ’92,” New York Post, June 17, 1991.
46. “Among Notables, Bush Plays One Tough Room,” New York Times,> June 17, 1991.
47. Frank J. Murray, “First lady longs to have her husband to herself,” Washington Times, June 17, 1991.
48. “First Lady: Bush Must Run Again,” Washington Post, August 1, 1991.
49. “Lead Found in Quayles’ Water Supply,” Washington Post, June 23, 1991.
50. Washington Post, August 4, 1991.
51. Andrew Rosenthal, “Shedding Tears, Bush Tells Baptists of Praying as Gulf War Neared,” New York Times, June 7, 1991.
52. Andrew Rosenthal, “Among Notables, Bush Plays One Tough Room,” New York Times, June 17, 1991.
53. Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents, Vol. XXVII, No. 28 (July 15, 1991), pp. 941, 944-947.
54. “Peripatetic Bush to Break Travel Record,” Washington Post, July 27, 1991.
55. “President Sounds Themes of Likely ’92 Campaign,” Washington Post,> August 3, 1991. Photos of a furious Bush are on page A1 and page A4.
56. New York Times, July 25, 1991.
57. “Bush Anti-Crime Speech Echoes 1988 Campaign,” Washington Post,> August 15, 1991.
58. Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents, September 12, 1991, pp. 1242, 1253-1254.
59. “Bush Tries to Ease Loan Crisis,” Washington Post, September 20, 1991.
60. Washington Post, September 19, 1991.
61. “Bush Vetoes $6.4 Billion Bill to Extend Jobless Benefits,” Washington Post, October 12, 1991.
62. “Bush Launches Strike at Congress,” Washington Post, October 25, 1991.
63. Evans and Novak, “It was a Surrender on Quotas,” October 30, 1991.
64. “Brady Favors Additional Interest rate Reductions,” Washington Post, November 8, 1991.
65. “President Hits Back at Critics,” Washington Post, November 1, 1991.
66. “Dragging Bush Home For Broccoli,” Newsweek, November 11, 1991.
67. “For the First Family, a Sense of Loss,” Washington Post, November 3, 1991.
68. “Deferral of Trip Raises Problems for US Policy,” Washington Post,> November 7, 1991.
69. “Bush Cancels Pacific Trip,” Washington Post, November 6, 1991.
70. Washington Post, November 7, 1991.
71. “Bush Challenges Europeans To Define US NATO Role,” Washington Post,> November 8, 1991.
72. “President Defends Foreign Policy, Attacks Congressional Democrats,” Washington Post, November 9, 1991.
73. Washington Post, November 21, 1991.
74. Washington Post, January 3, 1992.
75. Washington Post, January 9, 1992.
76. Washington Post, January 11, 1992.
77. Washington Post, January 9, 1992.