Visits His Shrink, Session #2, by
Bernard Weiner, The Crisis Papers
last time we met, ( www.crisispapers.org/essays-w/demons.htm
) sir, you had me thrown out of the White House,
thinking me too aggressive with my questions.
Now you're back for another session. What's
worse. My world is falling apart. People aren't
afraid of me anymore. The whole Plame and Iraq-intelligence
and NSA spying stuff is coming at us full force,
and we haven't got good answers. I can't sleep
well. I have more nightmares. Not even the pills
help. My wife, my doctors and my chief adviser
more or less ordered me see you again. Otherwise,
I wouldn't have come, believe me."
do believe you. Many clients in the early stages
of counseling get very uncomfortable when the
therapist brings up sensitive topics. It's not
unusual for them to lash out at the therapist
rather than doing the hard work of diving into
that uncomfortable area and trying to deal with
don't believe in therapy, doc."
you mean you don't believe it exists? Or that
it doesn't work, at least that it wouldn't help
gotten to where I am today on the basis of my
will and belief in myself, and I see no reason
to question myself now."
you seem to be suggesting that you've lost your
hold over people after years of doing what you're
always done. So maybe it's the perfect time
to re-examine your patterns and your behaviors
and see if any changes need to be made. I'm
happy to work with you, if you wish to do that."
if I start doubting myself, then the people
will lose their faith in me, and I'll lose more
of my self-esteem, and so on. It's a no-win
situation. I want you to just move on to other
areas, doc. But I want to make sure again that
our confidentiality agreement is still in place;
nothing I say leaves this room, right?"
of course. OK, we can move on to other topics,
and perhaps as we talk, some of the other areas
that need work will insert themselves. Why don't
you tell me about those nightmares you're having.
What's the most recent one?"
reminds me of the one I told you about during
our first session. In this one, I'm stuck up
to my neck in black tar, in a swamp red with
blood. Sharks are circling me. I scream for
help to my friends in the airboats, but they
just smile and wave at me. Burros, whose noses
are machine-guns, are aiming at me from the
bank; big sheets of paper are falling on me
from the sky. I feel like a perfect target:
unable to get out of the tar; my enemies can
pick me off; my friends aren't coming to my
aid; the paper sheets are falling faster and
faster; the black swamp is sucking me down.
I wake up in a cold sweat."
certainly can see why you'd be disturbed by
those images. What do you make of the dream?
You began by saying it reminded you of the nightmare
you told me previously, where you were swimming
in black sticky stuff and crying tears of blood.
Why do you think, for example, your friends
would not be coming to your aid?"
the dream, they think I'm going down anyway,
so why come near me? They might get shot also
or get eaten by the sharks. So they smile and
wave and pretend they're still my friends. But
they've really just deserted me to save their
can you translate that to your life in the real
world? Do you think your friends are deserting
poll numbers are in the toilet, and I'm losing
battle after battle in Congress as conservatives
and moderates peel off. I guess those are the
people in the dream smiling and waving at me.
They're no longer in my pocket, not afraid any
more. They rode my coattails into power in Congress,
but having to face re-election in November,
they're now happy to put some distance between
themselves and me, away from that mucky swamp."
WEAKNESS IS WEAKNESS
trying to shoot at you? What do you think the
swamp means? And who are the sharks and where
do those dropping sheets of paper come from?"
are like donkeys, so no secret there; the Democrats
are taking pot-shots at me every day. And more
and more elements in the press are circling
like sharks, smelling my political weakness,
and dumping on me, though we still have Fox
and the cable-news shows and the radio talk-shows
that our base listens to. The swamp? Not a bad
description of Washington, D.C., if you ask
me. And, like in the earlier dream, I guess
the tar probably is oil, and the blood is from
the war in Iraq."
make a good therapist, sir; I think your interpretations
are spot-on. So let's extrapolate. If your current
policies are losing you support, bringing out
the political and media 'sharks,' why not consider
altering your policies, perhaps moving closer
to the center, so you can get more of your programs
one thing, we can't be sure the people would
vote for my policies these days. Besides, I
told you: That way says to the people, and especially
to my supporters: 'I was wrong, my policies
were wrong.' That makes me look weak. If a President
appears weak, he loses his clout, people are
not afraid of him any longer, and thus he becomes
the dream seems to be telling you that your
behaviors and policies have already weakened
you. But let's put that political aspect aside
for now; the key question outside the dream
is: What are you really afraid of, deep down,
that keeps you from making the necessary compromises
politicians must make?"
silence.) "I'd be seen as what my parents and
others have called me all my life; I'd be a
"loser," someone with no intelligence to get
things done effectively, just living off the
reputations and assistance of others. This office
was going to change that for me. We were thinking
big, moving big in the world, and in the country;
sure, people thought we were cocky and arrogant,
but it was more that we were absolutely sure
we were doing the right thing so why compromise
with those who disagreed? God chose me to save
the country, to fight the Evil Ones, and to
change the world for the better, don't forget
I do understand you feel that way. But I keep
getting back to the central question: Your way,
the barrel-on-through approach, confronting
and threatening, seems to have alienated not
only your enemies but many of your friends as
well. Unless you're willing to fight to the
end, simply continuing those behaviors that
used to work for you in the past, then you'll
have to make adjustments to save yourself and
your legacy. And, I might add, to avoid impeachment."
we may have to make a few tactical adjustments
in these months before the November election,
so we can hold onto the House and thus stave
off any possible impeachment hearings there
-- and maybe criminal charges later. But my
advisors and I are determined in the next two
years to continue to play hard-ball with our
enemies and those who desert us. That's the
strategy that got us here, and kept our political
enemies totally flummoxed. We will stay the
course in Iraq; we will continue to roll back
governmental regulation of corporations; we
will rule from the Unitary Executive position;
we will monitor all communications, domestic
and foreign, and, if it comes to it, we'll force
a constitutional crisis and trust that our court
appointees will rule in our favor."
if that doesn't work and you and the Vice President
are impeached? Would you resign rather than
put yourself and the country through a trial
in the Senate?"
don't think it will come to that, but if it
does, we'll take it to the very end and let
the chips fall where they may."
I speak freely here, sir?
course. You're a rich psychiatrist who has been
most generous to the party; you're a Pioneer.
Besides, you don't have an agenda, so it's easier
to listen to you."
used the word 'chips.' Many fellow Republicans
might well respond that you're not playing poker
here, sir. Those 'chips,' they might say, are
the Constitution, and the GOP, and the people
of this country, and your wife and your girls
and, and other nations, and your -- you're really
willing to take the country down with you, if
it comes to that?"
said you could speak freely, but you're taking
liberties, Mr. Shrink. Watch what you say. Anyway,
if we are taken down, it won't be my fault.
It'll be the partisan Democrats, getting revenge
for what we did to Clinton, and the weak-kneed
in our own GOP ranks who couldn't take the heat,
and the Iraqis, who would do anything to get
back at me for invading them, and the people
for electing me, and the neo-cons -- a number
of them are Jewish, by the way, which will come
in very handy in assigning blame. Our forces
will take a hit, sure, but we'll reorganize
our true-patriot movement and go after those
evil ones who 'lost Iraq' -- the cowardly moderate
Republicans, the slimy Democrats, the Iraqi
terrorists, the Black Caucus, the Islamists,
the Jews, the liberal internet wackos -- and
we'll be back in a few years. And I'll be regarded
as a saviour of our cause who was done in by
forces of Satan. I won't go off with my tail
between my legs, but brandishing a sword of
vengeance and faith."
you really believe all that?"
of course not, at least not all of it. But it'll
play out there in the Red states, and I'm young
enough, I'll be around to give it a focus."
this is very interesting. But let me, as your
consulting therapist, offer an alternative idea
about your situation. It's just a theory, so
tell me if I've gone wrong here. It's possible
that you are indeed in a swamp, but it's not
just oil but a moral quagmire that derives from
the blood you have to spill daily to maintain
your control of those resources, and, in a sense,
even to keep control of yourself. In this interpretation,
that's why you're so agitated and depressed.
There's no implication that you're a bad man
or a 'loser' in this regard; lots of presidents,
even the best ones, found themselves in that
same area of moral ambiguity when sending young
men and women to die in wars."
don't like where you're going with this, doc.
I'm warning you."
way of looking at your situation, as one reason
your poll numbers have fallen so precipitously,
is that the country senses that you've been
sucked down in that swamp not only by external
enemies and situations but by your own choices.
In this view, you're a Faustian character who
exchanged his soul for power and control --
but it's not just you who is suffering because
of it. The country as a whole is feeling the
impact of your decisions, in a wide variety
of areas, and realizes that since you're incapable
of or unwilling to alter the course of your
policies -- or even to acknowledge that you
might have made some major errors -- they have
to move in a different direction.
know this interpretation might not be easy to
hear, but I'm offering it as a possibility,
something you might want to think about. In
my professional opinion, you need to do something,
quickly, sir, to ease the internal pressures
building up in you. I say all this both to help
save your presidency, since I still believe
you're capable of greatness, and to save you,
since your psyche is too delicately balanced
right now, and I don't want to see you go over
the edge into a total breakdown."
just trying to tear me down, like the rest of
them. I warned you. I hope you enjoy your stay
in Gitmo, fella. Guards! Take him away!" [They
start to exit.]
know this session may have been really painful
for you, sir, but if you change your mind once
your anger subsides, you'll know where to find
Meddling bastards! [picks up red phone] Rummy,
shock-and-awe, baby! It's Iran time." #
Bernard Weiner, a playwright and poet, has authored
numerous fantasias, parodies and satires. (
www.crisispapers.org/weinerpubs.htm ) A Ph.D.
in government & international relations, he
has taught at various universities, worked as
a writer-editor with the San Francisco Chronicle,
and currently co-edits The Crisis Papers (www.crisispapers.org).
To comment: >> firstname.lastname@example.org << First
published at The Crisis Papers and Democratic
Underground 4/11/06. Copyright 2006 by Bernard