Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Nora Ephron: What's Eating George Bush?

Nora Ephron asks the question I've been wondering lately too, at HuffPo: "What's wrong with the president? Is he fighting depression? Is he being medicated in some way that isn't quite working? What's up? I even bought a copy of one of the supermarket tabloids that alleged he'd started drinking again, but the article (like all articles in supermarket tabloids) was extremely disappointing; even the over-exciting picture of the President on the front page, holding a glass of wine, turned out to be an old irrelevant photograph of him making a toast at some banquet; there was no real evidence in the article that he was back on the sauce.

But I've been wondering about what's going on with W ever since he emerged from his bizarre groundhog-like vacation and responded to Hurricane Katrina as if he were under water. He had no affect at all. He was almost robotic. His meager vocabulary seemed to have shrunk even further. He conveyed no feeling for the victims -- and this was early on, way before anyone realized how many poor people were involved. It was strange. What's so hard about cranking yourself up for hurricane victims, especially when you think they're mostly white people who have lost their second homes on the Gulf Coast?

At the time I wondered if Bush was on Paxil or Lexapro, drugs that several of my friends are taking and that seem to have turned them into strangely muted versions of themselves. I asked my friend Rita, who's a shrink, but Rita is very careful about committing on subjects of this sort. She did point out, though, that sometimes, when the President talks, his mouth has a strange sideways twitch, which is apparently common in people who are on antidepressants.


The point is that it seems possible to me that when George Bush gave up alcohol in 1986, he dealt with the depression that often accompanies sobriety by becoming an obsessive exerciser. And that's what he's essentially done ever since. He's never held anything that could be confused with a job. Owning a football team is not a job. Even being governor of Texas takes only a couple of months a year, it turns out. So he was free to exercise.

But at some point this year, something happened and the exercise regimen stopped working. Bush started becoming depressed. My theory is that a certain amount of panic ensued, and more exercise was prescribed: hence, the afternoon on the bicycle in Maryland, and the reluctance to disturb an already disturbed, irritable man. (Interestingly, the incident happened just after the President returned from a four-day trip to Europe, which had not only required him to work several hours each day but undoubtedly interrupted his exercise routine.) Then came the vacation in August, the odd, sequestered vacation, a perfect time for the President's doctor to try medication, or change medication, or adjust medication. Then Katrina and the emergence in the fall of an unenergetic, irritable, muted, unfocussed President, the man you see today.

Look it up: depression symptoms. You'll read it for yourself: loss of energy, irritability, feeling 'slowed down,' inability to concentrate."


At 2:15 PM, Blogger mikevotes said...

I have no concrete knowledge of any change of regimen, but throughout the last few presidents, it has been occasionally reported that they have taken psycho-active medications. And by that, I don't mean crazy drugs, but it was rumored that Bush Sr. took antidepressants while in office, and it has been rumored that a number of presidents, and sr. staff, have taken amphetimines during certain crises.

The oddest thing to me is the new facial ticks and seeming involuntary pushing of his jaw out to the right.

These might just be stress related, though. I mean, I don't know how the president, any modern US president, can sleep most nights. Because as awful as the things we know about are, you figure there must be even worse we don't know about.

Just rambling. Mike

At 2:52 PM, Blogger mikevotes said...

By the way, I'm kind of trying to reevaluate my daily reading list.

If you ever get a minute, if you could drop over by my blog and do me a favor, I would appreciate it.

You often source things that I haven't run across elsewhere, and I've been wondering about that since I've been visiting your blog over the last couple weeks.

So, if you've got a few off-the-beaten-path sites you visit, if you'd take a minute and drop a few of them in the comments section of this post, I would appreciate it.


Feel free to delete this comment as it's not on topic.

At 7:00 AM, Blogger michael the tubthumper said...

well, when the g8 summit was on in scotland he went for a cycle round the grounds and ended up cycling straight into a policeman.

maybe that put him off the exercise!


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