“The evil...that dwells within man is of gigantic proportions!” - Carl G. Jung, on the unconscious aspects of the human psyche.
History may say they had a lot in common! They were both fanatical fundamentalists in politics, and in religious beliefs, too, and totally indifferent to the loss of human life on a massive scale. I’m talking about France’s dictator Maximilien Robespierre (1793-4), and America’s Uber-President, George W. Bush. After betraying his comrades during the French Revolution, Robespierre, a strange duck if there ever was one, orchestrated a “Reign of Terror” on his own countrymen. Thousands perished in the national bloodbath, many by way of the guillotine. Robespierre, too, was to become a victim of the madness which he had initiated from his influential role on the Committee of Public Safety. He insisted that supposed enemies of the state didn’t need a trial. (1) Does condemning someone as an “enemy combatant” to the hell of Gitmo Bay, without due process of law, sound familiar?
Robespierre’s mother died when he was eight years old. His father, the very next year, abandoned the family. He was raised by his grandparents. Bush, a Blue Blood, on the other hand, was sent off packing to private schools, as soon as it was permissible. Like others of his unfortunate ilk, he was reared mostly by a nanny. His father was absent most of the time and his mother was “cold and authoritarian," according to a respected shrink and author, Dr. Justin A. Frank. He analyzed Dubya, in his book: “Bush on the Couch: Inside the Mind of a President.” He said that Bush was badly traumatized by his early upbringing and by the death of his youngest sister Robin, when she was three and he was only seven. As was the custom in an elitist clan like Bush’s, the tragic death was never discussed with him. Therefore, there was no chance for closure or a mourning period either. As a result, Dr. Frank concluded: “It all had a lasting effect on Bush’s psyche.” (2) Robespierre was also the oldest child in his badly-shattered family.
What made Robespierre such a monster? According to Gustave le Bon, one of France’s most astute social commentators, a lot of factors came into play in creating this evil man. (3) Some of the elements exposed have parallels with the findings of Dr. Frank, and other critics, too, about Bush. Le Bon said of the dictator: [He was] of mediocre intelligence, incapable of grasping realities...crafty and dissimulating, his prevailing note was of excessive pride.” Bush allegedly has the second lowest IQ of any American President. He refuses to fully own up to the unmitigated disaster that is the invasion and occupation of Iraqi War, a conflict which, according to the “Lancet Study,” has cost the lives of over 655,000 Iraqi and, at least, 3,497 U.S. troops. Like the demented Robespierre, Bush also suffers from “excessive pride.” (3)
Le Bon continued: Robespierre considered himself a “high priest of a new faith. He believed himself sent on earth by God to establish the reign of virtue...and that he was the Messiah whom the Eternal Being had promised to reform the world.’” Doesn’t this sound like our reformed alcoholic President, who found God, thanks to the Rev. Billy Graham, and then went off on a crusade of spreading Democracy to the Middle East? And, doesn’t it fit squarely with a portrait of a man, thanks to the Gospel of the deranged Neocons, who sees himself as a liberator of Iraq? (4)
Dr. Frank raises these disturbing questions about Bush’s suspect persona: “How is it that our deeply religious president feels free to bomb Iraq...and then celebrate the results with open expressions of joy?...How can a president send American soldiers into combat under false pretenses and then proceed to joke about the deception, finding humor in the absence of WMD under his Oval Office desk?” Dr. Franks added: "[Bush has] an inflexible world view characterized by an oversimplified distinction between right and wrong, good and evil, allies and enemies...[I worry] about the safety of the people whose lives [Bush touches.]” As I write Bush has authorized the deployment of 22,000 to 35,000 additional U.S. troops to Iraq, under his “Surge” scheme. A mostly complicit U.S. Congress has given its stamp of approval to the ploy, with the passage of the “Supplemental Spending Bill.” Some, like Rep. Dennis J. Kucinich (D-OH), rightly see that law as a recipe for “endless war” and also the “privatization” of Iraq’s oil. (5)
Talking about complicity, le Bon made this point about Robespierre’s unchecked Cult of Death, which lasted about five horrific months: “[He] is represented as a most frightful scoundrel...These reports forget to add that the power of Robespierre obtained no support...from a powerful army, but merely from the repeated adhesion of the members of the Convention. Without their extreme timidity, the power of the dictator could not have lasted a single day.” Shades of Bush and his relationship with a mostly cowardly U.S. Congress! The latter has enabled Bush’s excesses: whether it has been his launching the war in Iraq; the passage of the draconian USA Patriot Act; the torture of detainees; the creation of a Unitary Executive; his abysmal failure to respond to Katrina; his contempt for the U.S. Constitution and his spying on Americans. No wonder, ex-President Jimmy Carter called Bush’s administration: “The worst in history!”
Although Bush hasn’t sent to the guillotine any of his former cronies in wrongdoing, he certainly hasn’t lost any sleep over their abrupt fall from power either. I'm thinking of Michael D. “You’re Doing a Helluva Job” Brown, "Scooter" Libby, Colin Powell, Paul Wolfowitz, Donald Rumsfeld and lastly, George Tenet. The author Christopher Hibbert noted a similar flaw in Robespierre. He wrote: “He possessed a truly Machiavellian skill...in enticing others to test the ground for him and then either abandoning them or supporting them as prudence or ambition dictated. Some held it against him that he was never seen when the Revolution...took to the streets...They accused him of hiding in a cellar.” (1) What also makes this description so relevant is that Bush is forever playing an ultra-macho character, like in his “Mission Accomplished” role. Yet, his own so-called military career was limited to p/t service in the Texas Air National Guard during the Vietnam War. A recognized military expert is convinced that Bush didn’t even “fulfill” the obligation that he owed to the Air National Guard. (6)
One of the stories that has made the rounds about Bush in his younger days, supposedly worked its way onto the History Channel in a documentary form. It was also repeated by a woman, who admired Dr. Frank’s book. The woman wrote that the documentary had revealed how Bush had given a speech at a political rally and while on the way home, he asked his wife Laura what she thought about his talk. She answered that he could have done better. Bush, then became so enraged at his wife, that he drove his car “clean through his back garage wall and right out the other side of the building.” The original teller of this unflattery anecdote was an “old friend” of the Bush family, who considered the episode “amusing.” He added that Bush’s mother had warned her daughter-in-law, that it was “unwise” for her to criticize her son. This tale surely has a ring of truth to it, especially, since Dr. Frank says that Bush is an untreated alcoholic--”a dry drunk!” (2)
A legal scholar and expert on the U.S. Constitution also has put Bush's reign of delusion in some perspective. On September 18, 2006, Professor Jonathan Turley spoke in Baltimore. He said: "What has occurred in the last few years is the greatest threat to the 'Separation of Powers' in the history of this government...We [the Founding Fathers] rejected the idea of all-powerful president and an all-powerful executive...We're [the Government] having a debate to endorse torture...like waterboarding!" (7) Professor Turley added: "This administration...set a course before 9/11 to 'reinvent' the presidency...to have an 'Uber-Presidency'...After 9/11, they could have asked to 'hang' Americans on meat hooks and Congress would have granted it." (8)
I leave the last word on my comparison of the psyches of Robespierre and Bush, to Dr. Frank. Before I do, however, I must note I have never seen Bush show any remorse whatsoever over the Iraqi War--none! Nor, do I ever recall him attending a funeral for a U.S. soldier killed in Iraq. In fact, he recently told the nation to “expect more bloodshed” in that beleaguered country. We have a president who drank heavily for 20 years and then “found Religion!” He tends repeatedly to blame others for his own faults. He’s a spoiled frat boy, who never grew up! As governor of Texas, he presided over more executions of condemned inmates than any other chief executive in the history of that state. Tragically, Bush, unchecked by the U.S. Congress, is guaranteeing for our nation more disasters. I feel morally compelled to say this: There is a Robespierre-like clone residing in our White House!
In conclusion, Dr. Frank wrote of the self-righteous Bush: “When the most powerful man on the planet consistently exhibits an array of multiple, serious, and untreated symptoms--any one of which I’ve seen patients need years to work through--it’s certainly cause for further investigation, if not for outright alarm!” (2)
1. “The Days of the French Revolution” by Christopher Hibbert.
2. “Bush on the Couch” by Dr. Justin A. Frank.
3. “The Psychology of Revolution” by Gustave le Bon.
© William Hughes 2007.
William Hughes is the author of “Saying ‘No’ to the War Party” (IUniverse, Inc.). He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org