Bush’s Delusion: “George Washington and me, peas in a presidential pod”

A recent comment demonstrates Bush’s pathological narcissism.

We’ve had three Georges as president but only the first and most recent will be studied 200 years from now. History books will say that number one was among the greatest and number 43 among the very worst.

Of all the things President Bush said in his unscripted words in the town hall style meeting covered by on Capitol Hill Blue in “What the Heck is he talking about,” by Deb Riechmann, the following struck me as the most important clue into the workings of our president’s complex and convoluted mind:

About his legacy, Bush said historians are still assessing George Washington, the nation’s first leader. “My attitude is, if they’re still writing about (number) one, 43 doesn’t need to worry about it.”

Presidents and all politicians are used to being excoriated by their critics. This comes with the job and is the kind of heat about which Harry Truman offered future presidents good advice: if you can’t stand it, get out of the kitchen.

Truman knew, as this table shows, since his poll rankings varied from a high of 87% to 23%, a low which was even lower than Bush’s.

Presidential Approval Ratings, Since 1950
Below are the highest and lowest approval ratings ever received by a president in a national opinion poll throughout his presidency.
President Highest Rating Lowest Rating
Harry Truman 87% 23%
Dwight Eisenhower 79% 48%
John F. Kennedy 83% 56%
Lyndon Johnson 79% 35%
Richard Nixon 67% 24%
Gerald Ford 71% 37%
Jimmy Carter 75% 28%
Ronald Reagan 68% 35%
George H.W. Bush 89% 29%
Bill Clinton 73% 37%
George W. Bush 90% 29%
Source: Can West News Service; CNN; “The Ups and Downs of Presidential Popularity,” Ron Faucheux, Campaigns and Elections magazine.

Public opinion polls are just one way to look at the effectiveness of a president. The opinions of presidential historians is quit different. These are scholars who study presidents in depth and who could if needs be spend an hour profiling any of our 43 presidents.

But after six years of an eight year tenure, being judged as one of the worst presidents in history by the majority of our best presidential historians whose job it is to be objective is something very different.

It takes a stretch of the imagination to understand how a president could handily dismiss even the tentative verdict of these intellectuals.

But Bush has managed to do it in a creative, if illogical, way.

“If they’re still writing about (number) one,
43 doesn’t need to worry about it.”

It always sounds a warning bell to me when the narcissism gauge has just strayed into the red zone, as when someone refers to themselves in the third person, sometimes known as the “royal we”.

Bush’s bubble can’t be so impermeable he hasn’t heard some rumblings that historians were ranking him as one of the worst presidents ever.

Here’s someone who managed rise above mediocrity in his previous endeavors to become President of the United States. He basked in the post 9-11 glory of 90% approval ratings, washing away any self-doubt about how great he was.

A new breed of doctors

Bush can’t be a happy camper with so many of his beloved chickens coming home to roost infected with with a nasty political strain of the avian flu. This was recently identified using a tried and true diagnosic device called the subpoena ad testificandum by a new breed of doctors called the veracity virus hunters

If Gonzales and Wolfowitz fail to survive the virus, the next to catch the bug may be Karl Rove (see “Where’s Karl?” by Michael Isikoff) and former White House counsel Harriet Miers.

Who knows whether one of them might actually start telling the truth if their fever gets too high?

Add that to all the other bad for Bush news from Iraq to the FBI actually doing their job in a nonpartisan way and going after corrupt politicians and, surprise, surprise, finding more Republicans than Democrats.

When a narcissist’s self-esteem is challenged by the facts they can either suffer a breakdown or resort to further self-deception.

The fact that Bush is so unaware of his failings may be mind-boggling to most everyone else. But if nobody he trusts challenges him he will continue to spin fairy tales to himself until the world around him crumbles and then he will most likely suffer a psychological breakdown. His history suggests this will begin with an escape into the bottle.

Bush’s likening himself George Washington, a man who was so highly thought of in his time he actually could have been king had he chosen to, shows the extent to which Bush is deceiving himself in order to protect his inner core of worth.

Bush and Washington, Peas in a Pod?
This is illogical, delusional, and ironic.

It is illogical because the reason historians are still writing about George Washington has nothing to do with reevaluating his accomplishments 200+ years later. It is because he is indisputably one of our greatest presidents. Even George W’s father won’t be revered 200 years from now. He’ll be lost among the long list of middling presidents.

It is delusional because the odds are so remote that something will happen in the next two years that will put him at the historic level of a George Washington.

It is ironic because if George W. Bush is going to have books written about him 200 years from now, it will be due to the fact he’s interesting and significant because nobody worse came along and he still ranks as the worst president in history.


“The Worst President in History?
One of America’s leading historians assesses George W. Bush” by Sean Wilentz

“What will history say? He’s the worst ever.” by Eric Foner

Ten Worst Presidents” by Jay Tolson

The author, a clinical social worker, has been a psychotherapist for 36 years. He agrees with the mental health professionals who have written on the subject of Bush’s psychiatric diagnopsis, that our president suffers from pathological narcissism, or to be technical narcisssitic personality disorder.


  1. Razor

    George Bush II has cut down a forest of apple trees, but won’t admit even one. George Washington had a wooden tooth, George Bush has a wooden head. Washington stood tall leading the charge, Bush went awol from the national guard.

    Comparing apples and oranges. Even worse, this apple in DC is spoiling the barrel.

  2. Hal Brown

    Live and learn. I had been using these terms interchangeably without even thinking. I appreciate the vocabulary lesson. ( I corrected the column. )

    Bush, the poster boy for mediocrity, has created a mediocracy, i.e., a government in which mediocrity is rewarded ( along with mendacity and Machiavellianism ) . *

    *Love those alliterations.

  3. Thomas Bonsell

    Glad to be of help. As a former professional nit picker on the copy desk of The Denver Post and as an ex-analyst at the National Security Agency, can’t help myself analyzing what I read and picking nits whenever they pop up.

  4. Sandy Price

    This commentary is a keeper to refer back to in the next 20 years. Oh, I forgot I won’t live that long. I will need these numbers now!

  5. TRUTH 101


    As usual the homework and all the rest is right on. For the life of me I do not know what is up with the American people however. Sure the vast majority feel that their Congressional Representatives of either house will “take care of them” but that isn’t happening and the people seem totally resigned to let this fool and all the theives that surround him do as he pleases, when he pleases to whom he pleases whenever, without there being a hint of a penalty involved. A bit of talk, but that’s that.

    Seriously, I have never seen so much malaise in the country. Sort of an well it’s not DIRECTLY affecting me so I don’t care syndrome.
    The other excuse I heard is, “well in 2008 he will be gone.” REALLY ?

    Does anyone think for a minute that this gang will simply relinquish power or influence just because there is some sort of election. I think not

    I mean is that stupid or what.

    My own personal feeling is that they want ANY Republican in office at ANY cost and all this noise about Guliani is hurting that cause but I believe cosmetic overall, playing to the religious fanatics in the party to keep them in line.

    Hillary they can tolerate and the extreme right will spend however long trashing her for everything and the 30% noisemakers will go along so anything she might try and accomplish will be of almost zero value.

    American IMHO is in serious trouble as a nation. Someone has to restore it’s respect first and I frankly see no-one out there that is currently electable that will do that. We’d like to see Obama as the closest choice to do that but my gut says that there are very rough seas ahead for hiom if (like Perot years ago) he becomes a very serious challenger.

  6. Sandy Price

    I like your comments and tend to agree. I’m still holding out for a miracle worker to show up with all the answers. You know, like in a Jane Austin novel.

    How about working on a third party that could run on our outstanding agenda items? Maybe in 2012?

    We are entirely too focused on partisan issues when we must stay on the subject of the Iraqi War and of course how we can stay out of IRAN. I’m so glad you wandered into the home page as I miss you guys from RR. I would love to see Slipped Mickey here.

  7. Thomas Bonsell

    You wrote:

    “Here’s someone who managed rise above mediocracy in his previous endeavors to become President of the United States.”

    A “mediocracy” is government by the mediocre, and Bush has not risen above that and never will. Doesn’t even appear that he has even risen up to that level.

    Suspect you meant “mediocrity.”

  8. JudyB

    I appreciate all the figures and enjoyed the read..however…I do not need a chart of any kind to know that GWB (and all of his hand picked henchmen)is the absolute worst to serve as President of the USA.

    I think it would be interesting to see how many of his congress compared to others, have resigned or been asked to leave because of some actual or suspicous type of
    bogus activity..this seems like the worst to me.

  9. JudyB

    I would consider GWB a flaming success IF he could ever even reach “Mediocrity”…but there is not a snowballs chance in hell of that ever happening…the dolt does not even read!

  10. Hal Brown

    Call me a skeptic.

    I never did and still don’t believe that Bush actually read, cover to cover, sentence by sentence, the following books last year despite White House claims:

    Alexander II: The Last Great Tsar by Edvard Radzinsky

    American Prometheus by Kai Bird and Martin Sherwin (a biography of Robert Oppenheimer, an inventor of the atomic bomb)

    Clemente: The Passion and Grace of Baseball’s Last Hero by David Maraniss (about the late all-star Pittsburgh Pirates right fielder)

    Lincoln: A Life of Purpose and Power by Richard Carwardine

    Lincoln’s Greatest Speech: The Second Inaugural by Ronald C. White Jr.

    Mao: The Unknown Story by Jung Chang and Jon Halliday

    Nine Parts of Desire: The Hidden World of Islamic Women by Geraldine Brooks

    Polio: An American Story by David Oshinsky (discussing how polio affected the United States in the mid-20th century)

    The Big Bam: The Life and Times of Babe Ruth by Leigh Montville

    The Great Influenza: The Epic Story of the Deadliest Plague in History by John M. Barry

    Salt: A World History by Mark Kurlansky

    The Stranger by Albert Camus

    >>LINK: US News and Wolrd Report

    We certainly would have been informed if Bush was a speed reader. I see nothing in him to even hint that has a search for knowledge, as the composition of this reading list would indicate.

    I just can’t wrap my mind around him taking the time and making the effort to read anything heavier than helium which he doesn’t have to.

    What a reporter should have asked him during a news conference:

    Mr.President, your reading list and reading contest with Karl Rove has recieved some publicity. Comparing and contrasting each of them with yourself, please tell us what specific lessons you have learned from the biographies of three world leaders who you read about, President Lincoln, Chairman Mao and Alexander the Great.

    I am sure we could find a few history teachers to grade his answer.

    Here’s a satire ( LINK – Counterbias.com ) which includes fake Bush book reviews submitted to his old high school teacher. Best line:

    The notion of a president reading existentialist novellas (The Stranger) and “three Shakespeares” was arguably an unusual one. Nevertheless, when recently pressed further as to

    which were the three Shakespeare plays he had in fact read, the president confidently responded, “Julius Caesar, Romeo, and Juliet.”

  11. TRUTH 101

    YES good to be here again. This website gets more updates that the number of colums Doug or anyone writes.

    With all the registration and re-registration and special code words etc I gave up for awhile. But good to be back.

    I think what we are seeing in American today is the thought by BOTH PARTIES that GWB and his henchmen can do and say anything they want to anyone they want at anytime they want and the American people will basically just sit there and “TAKE IT”.

    So now, they all want a piece of the pie.

    Anybody ever ask how much Dick Cheney’s “BLIND TRUST” is worth in the last 6 years ? Not the annual income mind you the STUFF he is not supposed to know about.

    Can anyone say BILLION:

  12. Hal Brown

    just as long as you don’t pick nits off my tear inducing adjective absent alliaceous alliterations.

      My wife, a doctor of lit
      could easily edit the odd nit,
      but then I’d cry
      oh fe, oh fi
      and sniffle away in a snit