IN THE FUTURE, presidential candidates should be required to file psycho-environmental impact statements on the potential harm their damaged psyches can inflict upon the rest of us.
In W.J. Stuart’s classic si-fi novel Forbidden Planet (loosely based on Shakepeare’s The Tempest and later a 1956 movie), a rescue mission is sent to find out what happened to the crew of the spaceship Bellopheron, lost 20 years earlier after landing on the planet Altair-4. The rescuers, led by Commander Adams (Leslie Nielsen) discover that there are two survivors, Dr. Morbius (Walter Pidgeon) and his sexy young daughter (Anne Francis). Morbius’ warns them to stay off planet, claiming that the rest of his crew had been destroyed by a malevolent, alien force that is still at large.
They land anyway and conflict ensues. Soon, a semi-visible monster starts wrecking things and killing members of Adam’s crew. After one of the crew hooks himself up to the IQ Doubler (a Biblical metaphor for the tree of knowledge, of good and evil), it becomes evident that the Beast is really a psychic projection of Dr. Morbius’ evil id, brought to telekinetic life by the alien gizmo, called “the plastic educator.”
When Morbius realizes that he is the source of the alien beast and its destructive power, in an act of true human reparation he kills himself. Order is restored, the Commander gets the girl, and they leave the planet and (presumably) live happily ever after…
I was reminded of this quaint little morality tale recently as I was reading Justin Frank’s Bush on the Couch: Inside the Mind of the President and came across this disturbing line:
“Genuine reparation must involve accepting that responsibility cannot be evaded simply by wishing or joking it away, or by destroying reminders of what one has or hasn’t done, or by numbing one’s awareness with alcohol or prayer. Unburdened by the standard laws of cause or effect, action and consequence, intent and responsibility, Bush seems bent on pursuing his personal psychological agenda…[T]racing the evolution of this mind set over time has offered a coherent and credible theory that goes a long way toward explaining the psychological function it serves him- and toward helping us appreciate the scope of the psychic burden his position requires us all to share.”
The office of the US presidency is the most powerful in the world to effect political and economic change. Occupied by a psychologically damaged individual like George W. Bush, it also becomes the ultimate means for exteriorizing one man’s most destructive impulses. Exhibit One: Iraq and Afghanistan. Exhibit Two: The US economy. Exhibit Three: What’s left of the Constitution and the right to individual privacy.
Bush is like the ape in the zoo that flings his shit at the rest of us as we pass by, daring us to force upon him the accountability that he has spent a lifetime avoiding. In his early years, Daddy Bush had to make a separate career of bailing Junior out of trouble, from the frat house he left in ruins, to serving in Vietnam, to his multiple business failures.
Today that role is performed by a supine Congress unwilling to exercise their constitutional duties of oversight and control over everything from the budget, to declaring war. Whether it was Bush’s violations of FISA, his current demand that his telecom partners in crime receive amnesty for spying on anyone his rotten little heart desires, his legislative signing statements, his ordering the rendition and torture of suspected terrorists— all are actions consistent with an emotionally arrested adolescent who considers himself above the law.
The damage that Bush has done, and continues to do to this planet, is incalculable. But the early indicators surely place him in first place as the 21st century’s greatest evil doer. Unlike Dr. Morbius, Bush believes he’s on a mission from God and thus incapable of admitting failure. With nearly a year left with him in control of the “plastic educator,” I fear the worst is yet to come.
Never hesitate to admit failure. Make no attempt to hide failure under deceptive smiles and beaming optimism. It sounds well always to claim success, but the end results are appalling. Such a technique leads directly to the creation of a world of unreality and to the inevitable crash of ultimate disillusionment. —The Urantia Book