Insane? Spend too much time close to politicians nowadays and suddenly that's a good question. This week the New York Times in the course of deconstructing the bad relationship between the Bush White House and the pressies who shout questions at it quoted a clinical psychologist who claimed to have had as patients several White House correspondents--all suffering from what she calls "White House reporter syndrome." Something about being "emotionally isolated."
This story already has plenty of clowns, so by all means, send in the psychiatrists.
Rational problem-solving generally requires adhering to the rules of the game, and in politics those rules are often informal. One such rule in Washington is that a politician is as good as his word. Perhaps nothing has been more destructive to Washington's current ability to function than the belief that "Bush lied" about WMD, most notably Joe Wilson's foundational charge in the New York Times that Mr. Bush lied about Iraq's attempts to buy uranium from Niger.
This persistent belief that George Bush committed a major moral crime, which was refuted by the Robb-Silberman Commission, had consequences. It has led many people in Washington's standing institutions--Congress, the press, the intelligence and foreign-policy bureaucracies--to think they've been released from operating inside the normal boundaries that allow political Washington to function, that allow partisans to do business, whether on foreign policy, Social Security or homeland security.
Over the Bush years that code has been displaced by a new ethos that to resist policies that flowed from such a "lie," anything goes--such as leaks about the most sensitive national security programs or published "dissents" by recently retired CIA officials like Paul Pillar. Compare this ethos to that of the U.S. intelligence community that ran the Venona program, producing invaluable signals intelligence on Soviet espionage activities from 1943 onward without any participant revealing its existence. No such achievement is imaginable now.
You cannot reason with these "Bush Lied, People Died" fanatics. No amount of evidence will ever persuade them. Syria could implode today from all the weapons Saddam sent there; the majority of Iraqis expire from some old container of Saddam's biological weapons-- and still they would cling to the mantra, repeating it over and over to gain comfort and solace.
For these crazy people, Bush must must must be wrong. They despise him with an intensity that is hard to imagine. It has eroded their brains like an unrestrained infection. They are, to put it quite simply, perfectly content to destroy the entire country to get at Bush.
People write to me all the time and ask me why? Why do these sad little people have so much hate for the President? What is going on? What is really motivating them?
A large part of the answer is in my previous post on Bush Derangement Syndrome. But there is another factor that is in play that needs to be considered. It is a psychohistorical reason.
George Bush came along at exactly the right time in history. The problem is that for most people of the left, Bush came at the most disappointingly lowest, unquestionably most serious point in several hundred years for their sad little ideology.
It has been noted that Ronald Reagan also received the same kind of vicious attacks on his intelligence; as well as on his administration. I am old enough to remember some people I knew who were jubilant when Reagan was shot, hoping I assume that he would go away. Why? Because Reagan did something that the left was desperately trying to cover up at the time:
Reagan was the person who stood up and shouted that the emperor of Communism had no clothes on. The naked truth about the left's little ideology had been known for some years, but noone called them on it as forcefully as Reagan did. They saw in Reagan the beginning of their end and they hated him for it.
But the left was rescued by the election of Bill Clinton, a moderate Democrat without any moral compass; who would go in what ever direction the wind blew (and still is). Despite the collape of the Soviet Union. Despite the complete debunking of their totalitarian philosophy by both history and reality; they could breath a sigh of relief that a man like Clinton was at the helm. They could press on with their agenda without too much interference. And hope that noone would notice the truth.
All that changed in the election of 2000. They were inclined to dislike Bush as a merely a concept; and the closeness of the 2000 election was extremely frustrating for them (they refeuse to believe that they lost that election to this day; just as they will continue to insist that Bush lied about WMD--its all part of the the same prayer in their ideological bible).
Then 9/11 burst on the historical scene. Bush, who probably would have been a mildly mediocre president without a lot of historical significance, was galvanized into action. Sometimes, leaders are born as we all know; and sometimes they are made. I tend to think that 9/11 made George Bush. Even if he had no vision--and there wasn't much reason to think that he did, just something different from Gore and Clinton-- prior to that date, it is obvious to me that many things crystallized for Bush at that time. He did what he had to do, and all Americans can thank him for keeping us safe these last five years.
Let me say, as I have said many times before, that there are many issues on which I diverge sharply with the President. The GWOT, however, is not one of them. But by pursuing aggressively this global war on what looked like a "new" enemy--Islamic fanaticism; Islamofascism or whatever you want to call it--what most people don't realize is that Bush has inadvertantly has restarted the war on those stalwarts of 20th century totalitarianism. It was a war that began during WWII; continued during the Cold War; was felt to be won for a while; but now is approaching a grand confrontation with the heirs of Hitler and Stalin combined. It seems very likely that the "12th Imam" is nothing more than the mutated offspring of Father Hitler and Mother Stalin, who has been hiding out for the last century or so waiting for a propitious moment to return.
Because the two strains of totalitarianism that we hoped had been wiped out forever after the Cold War and the demise of the USSR; like mad strands of recombinant DNA united to form a perfectly toxic specimen.
I say Bush took up this war inadvertantly, because I don't believe that many people--including many in the Republican adminsitration-- see the most obvious reasons why the left have persistantly and rabidly taken the side of radical Islam in what has been referred to as an "Unholy Alliance". This alliance may be "unholy", but it is neither unexpected nor illogical from the perspective of the intelligentsia of the left. The leaders of ANSWER and UFPJ; the WWP all know that if Bush is successful in the GWOT, it will also bring about that inevitable demise--the final stake in the heart-- of their utopian dreams.
This is not a "the enemy of my enemy is my friend" kind of thing. Radical Islam and the left are not enemies at all; but the flip sides of totalitarianism. Think of a coin. On one side is the dragon of leftist tyranny; on the other you will find the dragon of rightist tyranny. No matter how ofen you flip it, it is still the same coin.
So, the left was prepared to hate George Bush from the beginning. What they didn't expect was that he would inadvertantly become St. George who boldly took up arms to slay the real dragons that threatened humanity.
That is why he is more dangerous to them than Osama or Zarqawi. That is why they are so afraid and have to keep stoking the hate and fear in their mindless minions, the neverending fodder for their utopian fantasies--many of whom are leaders in the Democratic Party. Those who understand what is at stake are more than willing to use psychological manipulation to control the masses. They will use lies, distortion and emotional excess to promote their agenda. Anything goes. The times are desperate for them.
Getting back to the original question. Are they insane? Well, most of the left's intellectuals (if you can call them that) know exactly what it is they are doing; and their behavior is deliberate and malevolent. They come closest to the definition of a malignant, psychopathic-leaning narcissist (or narcissitic-leaning psychopath--take your pick).
But the mentally disordered, absurd and out-of-touch-with-reality sidekicks, panderers to, and cutesy hangers-on of these psychopaths certainly fit the most stringent definiitions of the word.
UPDATE: The American Thinker has similar thoughts, more succintly put.