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May 17, 2007


1. Bush-Police-Memorial-1

2. Bush-Police-Memorial-3-1 3.

4. Bush-Police-Memoria-4 5.

6. Bush-Police-Memorial-2

7. Bush-Police-Memorial-5

(click smaller shots to enlarge)

And I hope when you’re older you’ll come to this ceremony again, and find some comfort here.

–  George Bush, speech to Annual Peace Officers’ Memorial Service

You don’t need to be a clinician to understand that people act out when they experience bad feelings.  And, observing Bush’s face yesterday (in photos taken throughout Tuesday’s annual Peace Officers’ Memorial Service at the Capitol), he was obviously distressed.

It’s not that we don’t all experience psychic pain or troubled feelings at times.  The point is what we do with them.  Typically, we contain them while attending to business, then deal with them privately as circumstances allow.

I’ve addressed Bush’s psychology and signs of slippage several times.  When he’s off (1, 2), the presiding symptom typically involves the expression of hostility or anger. In this case, however, Bush seems to be using the grief of others — and, particularly, the comfort of women –  to get some relief for himself.

Whether Bush was suffering from something specific on Tuesday or his actions were reflective of an across-the-board reduction in coping capacity, I think his behavior — and his mental health, overall  — deserves wider attention, in the same way a President’s physical well-being need always be monitored.

Of course, the Peace Officers’ Memorial Service is an emotional event dealing specifically with loss and grief.  Still, for a President who has attended this service every year of his tenure and has always done his share of hugging there (see: 2004), something (in duration and manner) was different Tuesday.

According to ABC News:

Bush spoke for eight minutes. Then he came off the stage and talked to people in the crowd for 2 1/2 hours, methodically making his way along the metal barricades.  He often works such a “rope line” as he ends events, but this was one of the longest of his presidency.

As much as George Bush likes to pretend he’s emotionally bulletproof, this past Tuesday, he never looked so publicly troubled, and desperate.

(For an additional pic, see my companion piece at Huffington Post.)

(image credits to follow)

  • marysz

    These pictures show that Bush is obviously a lonely, unloved man who’s been reduced to fondling anonymous women. This is a man with a wife and two daughters. Are Laura and the twins giving him the cold shoulder?
    Picture number two, of Bush with Rove is the most interesting to me. Rove has obviously starting putting on weight again. Bush is off in his own little world (as usual) in this photo while his Svengali Rove acts as his hyper-alert enabler. Notice the “smile” Rove’s giving the photographer (and by extension, us the public). It’s what’s known as a contempt smile.

  • ummabdulla

    When I first glanced at this post, I thought it had something to do with a memorial for military personnel who had been killed, and I was a little surprised that Bush was showing so much public pain and concern for the men and women he’d sent to their deaths.
    Then I saw that it was for “peace officers”. (Is that the same as “police officers”, or is there a difference?) So what strikes me is that he’s able to feel and show his grief for law enforcement officers and their families, since it’s nothing he can be held responsible for…
    And the flag is at half mast – something that’s not done for the fallen soldiers, for the most part.

  • Darryl Pearce

    “…and almost desperate to kiss and be touched.”
    Wha…? Ick.
    The most frustrating thing for me is that this whole presidency is following a story arc required …compassion and empathy from me as an observer. No.
    There’s too much destruction in their wake and too much “ghoulish glee” (for lack of a better term) and the realization that abuse is the only expression of power they know.
    No. I can’t be magnanimous to this possé.

  • pk

    > As much as George Bush likes to pretend he’s emotionally bulletproof, this past Tuesday, he never looked so publicly troubled, and almost desperate to kiss and be touched.
    Interesting. The above text no longer appears in the ABC story linked. I don’t know if the following text was there before, but it’s there now:
    > He gave hugs and kisses, listened as widows and children cried, offered hearty handshakes and posed for countless photos.
    “Hearty.” Not “desperate.”

  • ice weasel

    Stop it. bush has no conscience and I won’t buy into the idea that these pictures show him a troubled man, possibly rethinking the wrongs he’s done. He doesn’t care. If he’s lonely, it’s because people around are justifiably horrified at his actions and his words and are repelled by him. That doesn’t make me feel pity for him, bush will just order more deaths of servicepeople or steal more money or spy on more Americans. It is clear, to me, from his actions that he has no conscience and despite what you thin these pictures show, I prefer to think that they show a despot beginning to understand that his reign does not last forever and that just possibly, he may even be accountable for his actions. Again, note the way I phrased it. bush doesn’t mgive a fat rat’s ass about whether what he’s done is wrong, only they he make get clipped for being caught.
    These people do not deserve pity. They’ve built mountains of stolen property and dead and ruined lives. On top of those mountains they glare down on the rest of us with nothing but contempt.

  • Aunt Deb

    That picture of Gonzales is priceless. Also, in that same picture, it seems possible that Bush is looking down and to his left, at the photographer, making his expression one of hostile displeasure, not sadness.

  • ummabdulla

    I was just reading this NY Times article about Wiccans, and couldn’t help but think of photo #3 when I read this part:
    “The Wiccan pentacle, a five-pointed star inside a circle, is often confused with symbols of Satanism. (The five points of the star represent the elements of nature — earth, air, fire and water — and the spirit, within the eternal circle of life.)”

  • rchsod

    hey he`s kissing underage girls now and that`s just fucking creepy

  • readytoblowagasket

    As much as George Bush likes to pretend he’s emotionally bulletproof, this past Tuesday, he never looked so publicly troubled, and desperate.
    Maybe that’s because Bush really is troubled and desperate, especially after James Comey’s damning and damaging testimony before Congress on that same day, which revealed Alberto Gonzales as a thug. Comey’s understated, quiet, and extremely credible testimony is riveting, painting a scene as if from a Francis Ford Coppola movie where John Ashcroft is about to get whacked in his hospital bed by the mob.
    Once Gonzales is gone (and he will be gone), Bush stands alone, exposed and vulnerable, without his longtime law-breaking legal counsel to protect him. Maybe Bush has just figured this out.

  • PTate in FR

    If Bush is now experiencing pain and remorse over what his choices have done to America–well, I hope so. But I suspect that what is troubling him is pain and remorse over how little he is appreciated.
    It has to suck having 70% of your fellow Americans…and more importantly your fellow conservatives…regarding your presidency the worst ever in American history. It was not supposed to be this way. The narrative arc was supposed to be the triumph of muscular conservatism–Christian, militant, righteous, resolute–over the weak liberal wussies and the Islamofascist threat to Our American Way of Life. Bush was supposed to be the Visionary, Resolute “Hitler-will-not-be-appeased-by-me” Leader of the Free World, the second coming of god Reagan. Iraq was supposed to be a brilliant strategy, not a foreign policy disaster.
    We see Bush still clings to the hope that history will prove him right. Of course, he finds comfort hugging strangers who support him; At least THEY seem to appreciate how exceptional, how visionary, GWB is.
    I find the most amazing picture above to be the one of Alberto Gonzales. He is so into the moment. His face gleams with the pride and innocence of a dangerous, clueless psychopath. The pair of them look like men who could say, with no irony and only a flicker of contempt, “We had to destroy the village in order to save it.”

  • Ebie

    Re #6: Where is his other hand? I’m really creeped out by this photo, more than the others. Even more than glare+Gonzo+flag…

  • 14All

    Oh, he’s troubled, alright. He feels gobs and gobs of sympathy for himself. That’s it. Poor little Georgie; no one understands him.

  • g

    bush has no conscience and I won’t buy into the idea that these pictures show him a troubled man, possibly rethinking the wrongs he’s done. He doesn’t care.
    He’s playacting. He’s trying to make himself the center of attention, as he always does. Bush hungers for attention, he always tries to make it “all about him.” That’s what these photos are about. Whether it’s being the “Hugger in Chief” or grabbing a baton out of the hands of an orchestra conductor, or using his own gaffe to reference himself at the expense of the Queen of England, it’s always About Him.

  • Court Jester

    I think it has more to do with the implications of Tony Blair stepping down and Gordon Brown taking over. Blair’s farewell visit was this week, and an article I read via Oliver Willis’s site claimed that Bush was briefed recently to expect major changes (i.e. troop withdrawl) once Brown takes over.
    Bush is just pouting like the spoiled child he is, knowing that he may soon be faced with bills regarding Iraq that he won’t be able to veto.
    Just my $0.02

  • Rhythm-X

    Yeah, the difference between “peace officers” and “police officers” is that “police officers” exist, while “peace officers” are a figment of the imagination, essentially right-wing doublespeak. And yes, I know the origins of the term “peace officers”. Doesn’t make it any less doublespeak in contemporary context.

  • PBill

    In #6 he looks like an over-affectionate drunk.
    2 ½ hours? People actually stood around after the event for 2 1/2 hours for a chance to be gropped by The Decider? Or did he just cause a suspension of the proceedings for 2 ½ hours until he was done with his photo-op-and-grope?
    In either case, I think Bush is finding himself more and more abandoned by the people he’s always had surrounding and protecting him. He’s in an adult situation where he’s finding himself having to deal with strangers on a professional level and is totally ill prepared for it.

  • Northern Observer

    Man this guy is the creepiest President ever. Really. Nixon was more ‘together’ than this. Freaky. My wife would just hate him. She can’t stand those compulsive huggers. Makes those stories we keep seeing in The Globe at the supermarket check out look very credible. He ain’t getting any affection from anyone. He’s gotta go steal himself some.

  • Enoch Root

    Dear President Bush:
    If you need any help with anything, you know…. *anything*… please don’t hesitate to call me for consultation. I can help you. Truly.
    –Bill Clinton

  • J Ron

    You know what would have been great….someone put a post-it note with “impeach me” on his back….

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