Howard Dean, psychiatrist
Bring back the theologian, if this cheap imitation of Freud is the alternative. In an interview with Rolling Stone, Howard Dean said he admires President Bush’s father, the former president, but said the son has, as they say, daddy issues. Here are the money quotes:
“He’s interested in some complicated psychological situation that he has with his father.”
“I admire George Bush’s father. … He tried to be a good president. This president is not interested in being a good president.”
The amazing thing is that this kind of demagogic shit (CQ), reducing political disagreement to mental illness or neurosis (and bad faith to boot), really isn’t that unusual in the world that formed and shaped Howard Dean. It’s what passes for sophistication among people who consider Woody Allen’s onscreen character profound and George W. Bush stupid. At least Woody the director was, I think, satirizing this “understanding” of conservatism among the Vacation-in-the-Hamptons-set in EVERYONE SAYS I LOVE YOU.
I have no patience for this sort of demagogic public discourse — cheap armchair psychiatric diagnoses, distinguishable only by degree from the Soviet application of psychiatry: “they must be insane because they don’t understand the benefits of socialism.” Dean may be a doctor, but he practiced in the field of internal medicine, not psychiatry. And at least Sigmund Freud, to his eternal credit over the high-rent-district witch-doctors that have succeeded him, actually spent hours per day for months with his patients before diagnosing them. I suppose it’s proof of how great a genius Dr. Dean must be — he performs a diagnosis after zero couch time. I wonder if followers of the Religion Of Therapy can even see their own self-righteousness and how it oozes out of them.
Then we get this little bon mot, when Rolling Stone asked the good doctor to diagnose what motivates Dubya: “George Bush’s philosophy is, ‘If you’re rich, you deserve it; and if you’re poor, you deserve it.’ That’s not my philosophy.” Talk about a bedside manner. What the colorful is Dean babbling about? Where has Bush ever said that, in any morally-deterministic sense? He’s an evangelical Methodist, not a Calvinist (surely a deep-thinking theologian like Dean grasps the difference). And Bush is too stupid to have read Max Weber anyway. On the other hand, if one can extrapolate and infer, then any statement to the effect that one’s material situation bears any relationship at all to one’s actions or efforts can be distorted into this sort of Reverend Ike Prosperity Gospel. Leaving Dean with only, logically speaking, the stance the people are utterly helpless to improve their material lives, lest they actually improve them and thus be able to take credit or think in terms of “deserve.”
If I thought like Dr. Sigmund Dean, I would ask myself how to consider this squeamishness about the morality of wealth (which of course could never, ever, ever be explained merely by reference to an understanding that the welfare state and government provision might serves the common good … we’re too intellectually sophisticated for that). I’d diagnose it, based on my vast number of billable hours listening to Dean on the couch, as unresolved guilt feelings over his New York/Yale/preppie upbringing and its manifest material and connections advantages. But I don’t.
UPDATE: The Deaniacs have just added the support and endorsement of that titanic force Carol Moseley-Braun, who will join the Dean team and bring along her legions of backers and the endorsement of the National Association of Gals, who speak for 51 percent of humanity. This makes Dean an irresistible force in my opinion.
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