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“…instructions given performers include a warning not to look directly at Bush while passing the presidential reviewing stand, not to look to either side and not to make any sudden movements.” – Scripps Howard News Service report on Bush inaugural activities.

It is clear that George W. Bush is suffering from a terrible pathology, a sick paranoia. It has been pointed out by people who have known him and should have been noticed by anyone paying even a tiny bit of attention. What is less clear is that the whole nation is quickly catching up with his level of insanity.

We know the Bush story. A mediocre man was pushed along into schools, jobs and businesses that he simply wasn’t qualified to handle. Living up to the Peter Principle he rose to the level of his own incompetence and became president.

Perhaps it is time to stop criticizing Bush for his shortcomings and talk about the nation’s shortcomings too. It is fitting that he leads a nation completely unqualified to be a world leader in any way.

Two years after the nation was propagandized into occupying Iraq the Bushmen recently confessed, a little. “By the way, remember that WMD we warned you about? Well, forget we said anything. We didn’t see any so we aren’t looking anymore.” The public reaction was a far cry from what it should have been.

The same week that the Bushmen pleaded guilty to perjury regarding the need for war, the media chose to place their spotlight on the CBS National Guard memo debacle. CBS was set up by someone, we will never know who, to use unauthenticated documents in telling the true story of Bush’s absence from the National Guard. When four CBS staffers were fired for their mistake the rest of the media turned on their own.

Instead of investigating how the United States Congress, the United Nations, and the American people were lied to about WMD, the press gleefully joined in the witch hunt. Thousands of Iraqis are dead because of lies, but the media and the public who follow them made a bigger issue about a true story told in a bad way. Madness ruled yet again.

A nation that threatens inaugural performers with arrest if they make one false move is of course descending into paranoia. First, we feared and hated the other. We were told that Arabs, Muslims, and all foreigners posed a threat to our safety. The paranoia justified the Department of Homeland Security takeover of the Immigration and Naturalization Service. Now all foreigners entering the United States are photographed and fingerprinted like common criminals posing for mug shots.

Like every other human emotion, paranoia is contagious. It can be directed only at one group for so long. Eventually everyone becomes a suspect. Outgoing Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge has proposed that American passports require fingerprints. The suggestion came and went without comment from the vast majority of the public, following along like sheep, doing the emperor's bidding without question. That is a sure sign of insanity.

The coronation ceremony for the Mad King is emblematic of the times. The spectacle costs $40 million, most of it coming from large corporations. Media giants like General Electric (NBC) and Time Warner are among the contributors. Corporate media bias in favor of Bush is hardly surprising.

The paranoid king has turned his enthronement into a military operation but won’t reimburse the District of Columbia for the $11 million it will have to spend for security. The good Mayor, Anthony Williams, has protested a little bit. He protested a lot more when the City Council acted in the interests of their constituents and initially said no to the crazy idea of doling out corporate welfare for a useless baseball stadium.

The Mad Mayor threw a hissy fit and ran as fast as his little feet would carry him to the exalted studios of Fox news. He whined and complained that the pain in the neck council wouldn’t give him a blank check for his idiotic project. He even invoked the name of the Almighty:

”What's going to happen is I'm confident that God is a just God and an understanding God, and we will have baseball here. I do believe that.”

If the president is crazy it isn’t surprising that the mayor of the nation’s capital is not playing with the fullest of decks either.

The crazy monarch Bush will probably prevail in his effort to eviscerate Social Security. He and his minions have already begun the process of convincing Americans to act against their own self-interest. They will do this by telling outright lies and twisting already twisted emotions.

They will act like a consumer products company that sells soap or paper towels. They will convene focus groups in market research settings and find a way to convince Americans that a safety net for their old age is a bad thing and the enrichment of Wall Street at their expense is a good thing. Advertising campaigns always need tag lines to go along with them. What will it be for the end of social security? “Private accounts, I’m lovin’ it.” It is all quite mad.

In the old fairy tale two con men convinced a frightened populace to say that a naked emperor was wearing clothes. At the end of the tale a child spoke up and told the truth. If that story were written today the child would be sent to Guantanamo without being charged with a crime. Members of Congress would say that it was in the best interest of the nation. The people who sent him there would become the emperor’s top aides and the opposition would welcome them with open arms.

Margaret Kimberley’s Freedom Rider column appears weekly in   Ms. Kimberley is a freelance writer living in New York City.  She can be reached via e-Mail at [email protected]. You can read more of Ms. Kimberley's writings at


January 20 2005
Issue 122

is published every Thursday.

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