When U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld was questioned by an American soldier regarding the shortage of armor to protect our troops in Iraq, his insensitive response seemed to suggest that armor is for sissies, because even armored humvees can explode. The lack of compassion and lack of empathy exemplified by his response reinforced my belief that the Bush administration consistently displays clear signs of collective sociopathic behavior.
Let’s take a look at some of the characteristics of sociopathic behavior, as defined by the American Psychiatric Association, and see how they fit:
1. Callousness, lack of empathy, irresponsibility, and reckless disregard for the safety of others: In addition to Rumsfeld’s most recent display of callousness and reckless disregard, President Bush routinely exhibits these symptoms. Childhood friends have described how the young George W. Bush would attach firecrackers to frogs and blow them up. Decades later, as Governor of Texas, Bush mocked and ridiculed convicted murderer Karla Fae Tucker’s desperate plea for her life. Today, President Bush sends our young people to Iraq to fight an out-of-control war based on lies, ships American workers’ jobs overseas, runs up the budget deficit, and sets out to put Social Security into the hands (and pockets) of Wall Street brokers, with apparently no consideration for how this reckless behavior will affect average Americans. He and those closest to him remain safe in their money-padded cocoons, far removed from the reality that their actions create.
2. Glibness and superficial charm: George W. Bush won votes with his casual, down-home style. He won the support of the heartland’s cupcake moms and NASCAR dads by coming across as a regular guy. At the height of the 2004 campaign season, when asked which candidate they would rather have a beer with, 43 percent responded that they would rather have a beer with President Bush, compared with 25.1 percent for John Kerry. But Bush’s frozen smirk betrays a glibness that tells us that his underlying agenda does not include buying a round at the local saloon for the common folks.
3. Deceitfulness: George H. W. Bush deceived the nation when he said, “Read my lips: no new taxes.” But that lie did not cost thousands of innocent lives. George W. sent our young men and women into Iraq to fight a war based on false allegations: Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, ties to al-Qaeda, and a grave and gathering threat to America. Vice President Cheney still clings to some of these stories, and National Security Adviser Condoleeza Rice herself tapdanced around the truth in her testimony before the 9/11 Commission. This administration does not let facts get in the way of their agenda.
4. Grandiose sense of self: Having won reelection with 51 percent of the vote (hardly a landslide), George W. Bush described his victory as a “mandate.” He claimed to have earned “political capital” during the campaign, which he now intends to spend. The other 49 percent of the voting public will just have to accept it. After all, as Bush told an Amish group in July of 2004, “God speaks through me.”
5. Aggressiveness and failure to conform to social norms with respect to lawful behaviors: The Bush administration displays these tendencies on a grand and global scale. Perhaps nothing illustrates this better than the war in Iraq, launched in defiance of international law and the U.N. Charter and replete with war crimes, including the use of indiscriminate weapons against civilian targets and the blatant and calculated skirting of the Geneva Conventions.
6. Impulsivity and failure to plan ahead: The war in Iraq was not a response to a direct attack. Contrary to the all-too-common myth that Iraq was involved in 9/11, Saddam Hussein was contained and posed no immediate threat to the U.S. mainland. Nevertheless, the Bush administration chose to divert troops from their search in Afghanistan for the real threat – Osama bin Laden – and launch a poorly planned war in Iraq with inadequate supplies and no real exit strategy. And who pays the price? American soldiers and innocent Iraqi civilians do. I’m sure we’ll never see Jenna or Barbara Bush reporting for combat duty.
7. Lack of remorse or guilt, and failure to accept responsibility for own actions: Despite all these atrocities, George W. Bush still refuses to admit to any mistakes. Administration officials continue to assure the American people that everything is going just fine in Iraq and at home. The scariest part of it is that Bush seems to actually believe the spin. And perhaps that’s why so many voters believe it too, despite all the in-your-face evidence to the contrary.
Cult experts have observed that a number of mind-manipulating cult leaders tend to exhibit many of the characteristics of sociopathic behavior as they charm and seduce their followers into sometimes dangerous situations. Is the U.S. turning into a cult of mindless, trusting subservience to the right-wing agenda?
America needs to wake up before they pass out the Kool-Aid.