Maureen Dowd explains how obvious it was that Kerry’s references to W’s father almost immediately got under the President’s skin during Debate I:
“Even though the president, waving off any attempts to put him ‘on the couch,’ refuses to acknowledge any Oedipal sensitivities, John Kerry artfully drilled into the sore spot in the first debate.
“Senator Kerry evoked the voice of Bush 41 to get under 43′s thin skin. The more Mr. Kerry played the square, proper, moderate, internationalist war hero, the more the president was reduced to childish scowling and fidgeting, acting like a naughty little boy who refuses to sit in his seat and eat his spinach and do all the hard things a parent wants you to do.”
Is the Oedipal issue overblown? More like understated. Imagine yourself standing behind the President’s podium when your rival invoked your papa. Who would stand for that? Lloyd Bentsen wouldn’t even let his opponent talk about JFK.
Listen, W could have said, you don’t want to talk about my father. I’ve got news for you. He’s backing me in this race and he thinks you’d be a bad president and dangerous for America. I’d use someone else in your examples.
But W will not do it. He’ll never do that. We can be more sure of that than almost anything about the man. So does that mean that Kerry should mention Daddy Bush early on Friday night? Probably. After all, someone should give the elder Bush some respect.
For a review of W’s Oedipal complex at work, I repost the following:
Papa Don’t Preach: Bush, Oedipus and War
Any psychoanalyst who charges George W Bush more than two bucks an hour for treatment should be booted out of the profession for malpractice. The case is just too easy, too obvious. Forget the couch. W wouldn’t even have to sit down. He is one of the rare patients who wears his unconscious on the outside (while the conscious is buried somewhere often unreachable).
This guy’s Oedipus Complex is, I think it’s fair to suggest, more extreme than Oedipus’s Oedipus Complex. We’re hearing more examples of the patient’s overwhelming symptomology from Bob Woodward. Woodward describes an exchange during which he makes the argument to the President that it just will not be viewed as credible if W says he didn’t ask his own father for advice related to his decision to invade Iraq. After all, Bush the First is more than just a father. He is also a former president who happened to order an invasion against the same foe just a few short years ago. It would be ludicrous (and on some level, pretty scary) to suggest that any president would forego the opportunity to seek the advice of a predecessor who had such similar experiences.
The President’s response was that if it wouldn’t sound credible to suggest he sought no advice from his father, he’d have to make something up. Because he didn’t. Folks, we’re talking about the most critical decisions in modern history here. I wouldn’t buy a friggin golf club without checking with my dad first.
And take a look at this excerpt from a speech that the President delivered earlier this week.
“The Iraqi people are looking at America and saying are we going to cut and run again? That’s what they’re thinking as well. And we’re not going to cut and run if I’m in the Oval Office. We will do our job.”
Anyone remember who was in the Oval Office when the Iraqi people accused America of cutting and running?
I think the most under-covered aspect of the President’s personality make-up is his likely reaction to the way the media portrayed the impact that “The Wimp Factor” had on his father’s elections. W is out to prove he is not a wimp. He is testosterone man. He will not play baseball, he will own baseball. He will not fight a war, he will win a war. And he will not cut and run. Think he’s going to ask Daddy for advice? Not with these symptoms.
And the natural symptomatic extension of this all-powerful Oedipus complex is to look for other father figures, more powerful than your own. Hence, Cheney. And hence, W’s constant references to looking for strength from a higher father.
This religious zealotry leads to a unnatural certainty about everything from believing a war is right to believing, unconsciously, that your father must be psychically done away with. How could anyone have no doubts about something as significant as war? Tony Blair admits his doubts. Bush says he has none. Bush is like Hamlet without the indecisiveness (and with the strongest military world history). To be or not to be? The hell with that. I’ll be. You won’t. Enough said.
Come on my fellow shrinks. He didn’t talk to his father about Iraq. This Oedipal Complex wouldn’t be more obvious if W sent the 1st Armored Division into Kennebunkport.
Our time is up. Next patient.