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Bush on the Couch

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A Decadent Aristocrat
By Andrew Solomon, author of The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression

Bush, like his mother, has an almost inhuman ability to identify his own advantage without the slightest regard to its cost to others. One reads in Lincoln’s diaries of how his heart bled for every soldier who died in the war he felt obliged to wage; one reads in Bush’s face and in his speeches an inability to conceive of other people as fully human, including the soldiers who die at his behest, a quality that renders him less than fully human himself. This heartlessness, unlike his achievement of the presidency, is the very hallmark of decadent aristocracy. It is worth noting, however, that most aristocracy is not so far decayed; the queen of England, despite her less cuddly manner, is clearly more compassionate than W. But in the great popularity contest of electoral politics, he has been a winner, and in his mind he is one still. With a few nods to the disagreeable fact of the Democratic Congress, he continued, in the State of the Union, to declare the truth rather than to reflect it, narcissistically unable to grasp that he is not the world.


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