Fleeting Glimpses into the Twisted, Dark Hearts of Two Politicians
By Edwin L. Young, PhD
Two remarkably telling media moments will always surface in my memory as examples of cracks in the hermetically sealed, public personality, façades of two politicians, namely those of George Bush and John McCain. Their instantaneous reactions at historical tipping points gave me a laser-like penetration into their unfiltered private persons. What I saw laid bare their sweepingly perverse inner political landscapes and the treacherously self-serving hearts that comfortably nestle, at home, within them.
When the election results were coming in during the 2000 race between Bush and Gore, George was in a hotel room with his mother, father, and wife. Though it was late in evening, they were having dinner. The television was not on. They appeared to be devoid of anxiety and feeling relaxed, confident, and secure. A cameraman was filming them live on TV at just this moment. The phone rang. George W. picked it up. It was Jeb calling to report on the progress of the Florida returns. Suddenly, George’s facial expression dropped. He looked incredulous and mumbled something suggesting incredulity into the phone.
Heretofore, during this evening, the results clearly had been trending in his favor. Now he turned to his family, looking as though he had been told a Guillotine was poised to drop on his neck at that very moment, and said with a tone of absolute shock in his voice, “Jeb says the returns had suddenly switched and were going in Gore’s favor. Florida is going for Gore!” He dropped back down in his Lazy-Boy and just sat there in silence with a grim look of incomprehensible disbelief and consternation.
I said to myself at that moment that this could only mean one thing and that was that he had been assured by Jeb that the vote in Florida had been rigged, successfully and unassailably, for him to win. I realized, in that instant, that for George using whatever illegal or illegitimate means available to rig an election for him to win was as natural as sitting down for a quite and comfortable evening meal with his family. For George, that was just the way the political landscape was laid out. For George, corrupt political tactics were as natural as sitting down to eat a breakfast of champions in the morning was to millions of innocent young kids throughout the rest of the unsuspecting wholesome population.
However, George had a mother and father for whom using political dirty tricks was a perfectly normal and necessary way of life. It was their family culture; their family heritage. With his father before him as his role model, George had learned that he had to be either a successful charming, unprincipled, scheming con artist or to be looked upon by his parents with scorn and contempt.
Strange how like a tesseract, that fabled crack in space that opens a view into parallel universe, a quirky, eerie, momentary slice of behavior at one critical tipping point within the public life history of a person can become, in a manner a manner of speaking, just as revealing of the coloration of their entire private, inner self. Just as a subtle gesture can tip one off to an otherwise unanticipated dénouement in a play, in the same manner a person’s spontaneous, unrehearsed, gesture or tone can become an unwitting betrayal of the essence of a person’s entire way of being in the world. At the same time such ephemeral performances, while they may seem to be genuine and well intentioned, yet, nevertheless, are successfully serving as a powerful fulcrum that suddenly flips the political world off its more benevolent axis. In reality these subtle, seemingly, innocuous acts may be belying just how deeply entrenched is their secretly malevolent despotic view of the world.
There is a match between their way of being in the world and their worldview and, such as it is, their nature is, or should be, unfamiliar and even unfathomable to most of us. These behavioral clues or displays are like a person’s signature, or their responses to a Rorschach test, which involuntarily leaks to the trained interpreter what the true nature of the person is and what the world, as it is seen through their fiendish eyes, is. A quite disturbing view, this glimpse into the tesseract of the immaterial, human world has become! I commend it to you all, if you are not already artists in its practice.
This glimpse of Bush’s behavior is not the kind of evidence that a TV audience, considered as eyewitnesses, would unanimously report if interrogated. However, I began studying facial expressions and voice characteristics at the age of nineteen and studied, observed, and practiced being alert to such signs throughout my career as a therapist. This kind of evidence has taught me to question reliance on the culture of consensus, tradition, and sonorous voices of authority echoing with their booming timbre of hollow confidence throughout the halls of institutions’ of the establishment. Furthermore, this kind of evidence has made my own mental antennae perk up and be alert for future similar incongruous stirring and disturbing signs regardless of how eccentric, tenuous, or intangible they may seem to the untrained observer. Of course, what followed on the heels of that fateful election night and the next few days confirmed my suspicions that Florida Governor Jeb Bush and the other republican state office holders had successfully rigged their election in brother George’s favor. The evidence that was uncovered of the course of the following months and years was open to the world, a majority of which became convinced of the corrupt rigging of the Florida election. Consequently, success with this mode of mental attunement has caused me to develop the art of recording to long-term memory such intuition-awakening glimpses.
Now I must move on to the telling, tipping-point glimpse into the tainted, musty, inner world of John McCain. It was on the night of what I recall as the final one in a long series of debates between republican presidential candidates. The two remaining contenders were John McCain and Mitt Romney. Mitt (Biographical sketches at) was son of George Romney who was a successful entrepreneur, leader in his religion, past governor of Utah, and was a charismatic, popular, presidential candidate in the 1967 primaries. This was the period when Nixon seized the nomination away for the first Romney and then, tragically, commandeered the White House. Then and now, two similar periods, history repeating itself, distinguished for their implicit irony and all too possible ill-fated fate. During a final debate, we see ‘His Eminence’ Romney to the left side of a soft-spoken ‘Crown Prince’ McCain. ‘Straight Talk’ McCain was emanating the look of a cunning, stealthy predator, while Romney, looking prim and proper, seemed to be speaking in an unpremeditated manner, yet like a clarion-toned, well-trained, elocutionary artist.
Romney had this well promoted public persona of a very clean-cut, honest, intelligent, well-educated, highly competent, diplomatic politician who was not adept at gamesmanship. My moniker for Romney is ‘His Eminence’, Triple Crown Winner of Best in Show among the Mormon, Political, and Business breeds. In fact, Romney, an extraordinarily brilliant man, did have a superlative record in college and graduate school. To be fair in comparing the two men, I should mention that McCain’s Vietnamese captors, when learning that McCain was the Rear Admiral’s son, dubbed him their ‘Crown Prince’. Perhaps this was a sneaky oriental joke, a bit of a lampoon, to chafe his lower ranked, less curried, fellow wounded captives. Perhaps, also, they meant to use the crown’s spikes as a metaphor to spur into the ‘rear’ of the loins of his ‘royal’ US Navy Rear Admiral father. Be that as it may, here we have Mitt and John, two men of prominence, but what a study in contrasts!
In 1975, Romney graduated from a joint Juris Doctor/Master of Business Administration program coordinated between Harvard Law School and Harvard Business School. He graduated cum laude from the law school and was named a Baker Scholar for graduating in the top five percent of his business school class. He went on to have a remarkable career in business. Romney, the ex master of the Olympics in Salt Lake City and governor of perhaps the most educationally and aristocratically sophisticated state in the union. Romney has never divorced and has an adoring wife with whom he fathered five healthy, intelligent, and successful sons. He is the perfect model for the family values wing of the far right.
The career history McCain’s family (McCain biographical sketches), his father and grandfather, was exclusively military and McCain had followed suit. His father, being a high-ranking naval officer, was constantly moving. John was small, shy, and an underachiever. His father had little time for John. Moving from base to base and one ramshackle, makeshift school after another, he never developed close lasting relationships with peers or anyone for that matter. He won his status at each new school by being a testy little troublemaker and negative peer group leader. He wanted to be a famous military man, like his father and grandfather, but also, from an early age, he wanted to be president, perhaps because of his father’s disinterest in him. McCain, however, had only attained renown as an ex-Navy fighter pilot, albeit highly decorated, and prisoner of war, but he had a battle-scared history that could rival Hollywood war films.
While growing up, McCain disdained the education establishment and traditional education. Throughout his schooling, he had been oppositional and defiant toward authority. With his friends, he was known as the wildest of wild hell raisers. He was a daredevil. He was known as a party boy and womanizer. He was also known as a charming manipulator; a trait that aided him, along with his the influence of his renowned father, in rapidly rising through the ranks in spite of very poor performance on the intellectual side of things and a string of reprimands in his personnel folder. I would say that he is not unlike Bush in this one regard. Nevertheless, he was an aficionado of military history and the arts of warfare.
McCain had been a prisoner war with these Vietnamese. His plane was shot down during a daring air raid on North Viet Nam and he was taken prisoner. The crash left him with both arms and a leg broken. During the five and half years’ ordeal of imprisonment and concomitant interrogations that involved torture, his buddies had saved him from several threats of suicide due to the severity of the torture. During his torture, he had surrendered his military identity, strategically important information, and the militaristically critical information that he was the son of the famous McCain, now Rear Admiral, Commander-in-Chief, Pacific Command. These confessions were considered an act of treason but were expunged, probably due to his father’s status. In spite of the fact that the Vietnamese had informed Admiral McCain of his son’s whereabouts, he continued to bomb that region. His deeply ingrained trait of defiance and his longing to win his father’s approval probably accounted for his dauntless resistance of the Vietnamese determination to break his spirit.
Right before the end of the war, in 1973, McCain was released from prison. He was subsequently medically discharged and proclaimed a ‘war hero’. McCain’s fame is actually for enduring five and a half years of torture and emerging severely crippled, as was the case with hundreds of his fellow prisoners. In his absence, his wife, an intelligent and attractive woman, was in a car crash that left her disfigured and as severely crippled as was John. Ross Perot paid for her medical and rehabilitation bills and he was never repaid. Perot stated in Newsweek issue of January 2008 that he had no respect for McCain, thought of him as unabashed roué, and even refused to laud him for his behavior during imprisonment that considered anything but heroic, and something he was overdramatizing and shamelessly cashing in on. According to McCain’s longsuffering and forbearing wife, rather than admit to his cruel disregard of her condition, she explained his abandonment as due to a mid-life crisis and becoming a womanizer, as men typically do. He eventually divorced her in April of 1980. He had met a highly attractive Colorado woman, Cindy Lou Hensley (Cindy McCain’s biographical sketch) who was an heir to a giant beer corporation fortune and top rung on the elitist ladder. They had been seeing each other for a year before his divorce was final. They married just a month after the divorce, in May of 1980.
After recuperating, in July 1977 McCain was appointed to the Senate Liaison Office within the Navy's Office of Legislative Affairs (an assignment his father had once held). The office's role mostly consisted of providing constituent service and acting as a facilitator among legislators, the Department of Defense, and lobbyists. His skill at partying served him well with the Senate Liaison Office personnel, Senators, and lobbyists.
McCain had all the marks of a parvenu who had found his sugar mamma in Cindy Lou Hensley. With the help of his wife’s fortune and the family connections of her father and the reputation of his own Rear Admiral father, he got himself elected to public office. In 1982, he was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives from Arizona's 1st congressional district. After serving two terms there, he was elected to the U.S. Senate from Arizona in 1986. He could list no other credentials that would qualify him for being a Senator other than having been a gopher, orchestrator of extravagant parties, and an imprisoned and tortured (and what one might call with liberal embellishment) ‘war hero’. He has remained a Senator ever since with a lack luster record and a reputation for being a legislative quick-change artist. That is the extent of his experience relevant to his becoming president of the US. Certainly, no one would claim that simply being a ‘war hero’ for five and half years qualifies one for becoming our next president. The right has a gift for glamorizing the rotten!
Picture the stage as the debate opens. ‘His Eminence’ is sitting right next to McCain, the son of a famous Viet Nam era Navy Rear Admiral, a military elitist, a charming sanctimonious hypocrite, and a man whose character borders on being amoral. Sitting next to tall, handsome, squeaky-clean, iconically cultural conformist, diplomatic to a faulty, Romney, we see McCain, whose whole life and character has been funneled toward war, toward pugilistic super patriotism, and toward fighting the barbarous rest of the world. McCain is like a superannuated version of the Col. Nathan R. Jessep role that Jack Nicholson played in “A Few Good Men”.
He knows that the republican base suspects the highly intelligent, extremely well educated candidates, such as Romney. He knows that they adore Bush types with modest IQ; disdain for education; a penchant for dirty political street fighting; putting loyalty to the oligarchs above principles; having the ability to feign sensitivity and compassion when in fact being ruthlessly insensitive; and a knack for articulating convincing confabulation of the facts. As a testament to the extent of McCain’s own sleazy, duplicitous character, Donald Segretti, convicted felon of the Nixon campaign days and mentor to Karl Rove, had been McCain’s Orange County co-chair for his 2000 presidential bid. This telling part of McCain’s political life history demonstrates a landmark along the way as he evolved into a superlative opportunistic grifter, inveigler, and master of the underhanded ‘ratfucking’ tactics that he is now using in the campaign process against Obama.
If you want a more dangerous sequel to the abominably destructive Bush era, consider what it might be like if the aforementioned qualities were combined with McCain’s zealous predilection for killing the rest of the planet’s population whom he considers to be a mere perilous pack of subhuman barbarians. I can imagine him mounting “Little Boy” and catapulting out of the ‘Enola Gay’ like in the movie “Dr. Strange Love” when Major Kong rides the hydrogen bomb down, whooping and hollering like a bronco rider. Except in McCain’s case, if he were in Kong’s place, he would be blandly, softly singing “Bomb, bomb, bomb” as he did at a private fundraiser with his conservative base.
So, here we have the final two Primary contestants in loosely scripted successive debates, around the end of January, 2008, facing what are supposed to be even-handed interrogators, first with CNN and then MSNBC. In the midst of these final debates, I spotted these distinctly similar moments of what I so vividly remember as the tipping-point incidents. These moments foreshadowed what the character of the post-primary, presidential election campaign would be like. It was not only what McCain and Romney were saying. Regardless of who was speaking, I studiously looked at the facial expressions of both men. These were speaking more volumes than were their comments.
The most noticeable aspect of the facial expressions of McCain and Romney is what I label as a smirk on McCain’s face and irritation and shock on Romney’s face. McCain kept control of each debate. McCain kept taking an accusatory tone and claiming Romney of taking positions on issues that he either denied or explained that a recent position was different because the circumstances were different. McCain would either come back with the accusation of flip-flopping or simply saying that Romney was not being truthful. Throughout both debates, the questioners allowed McCain to persist in this tact even if they knew that McCain’s accusations were false. Romney was never given the chance to explain that the mature, reasonable thing to do when circumstances were different would be to adapt one’s position to the change rather than, obstinately and bull-headedly, to persist with an ideologically based, unaccommodating, obsolete, unworkable, prior position as Bush had done. Romney was kept on the defensive and never got the chance to cite the many issues on which McCain had flip-flopped. McCain was allowed to continue this mode of attack even when it was clearly not in the interest of producing valuable information in the debates. In other words, the questioner literally was allowing McCain to bully Romney.
Romney’s looks of irritation and shock came on those multitudes of occasions when McCain was persisting, or was being allowed to persist, in these bullying, false accusations. This bizarre, unilateral, duel was carried out with outlandishly absurd repetition without the least attempt by the questioner at getting the debate back on a path that would be informative, relevant, and productive for the audience. I am not sure, this may have only happened in the last debate, but perhaps at least one time during each debate, after McCain, with his sadistic smirk, was really overbearing in his persistent bullying, Romney got a look that I definitely felt was a look that is typical of people who have had a sudden epiphany.
My subjective interpretation of this look of epiphany was that he suddenly realized that he was being set up; that he was in a trap whereby if he rightfully and intelligently defended himself his complex explanation would lose the audience. However, the other alternatives at hand such as counterattacking would make him look like he had been seduced into descending to McCain’s level. Nor could he forego countering because this would look like surrender. He knew that McCain would persist until Romney blew his cool, no matter what. This meant that regardless of what he did, he was ‘had’. His epiphany was telling him that he had no way out; he had lost. This sniveling, smirking little runt not only had won but also he had been allowed to win by the network. There could be no other explanation. In other words, he realized that the powers behind the network were also behind McCain and that they had settled on a way to defeat Romney that no one would ever figure out. His campaign was over. Furthermore, were he to try to expose the set up, no one would understand or believe him and Romney’s political career would forever be over.
Rigging of a campaign had risen to a much higher level of sophistication than ever before and done so very simply and smoothly. What a coup! This time there would be no mess to be publicized in documentaries like the way Florida’s officials prevented people from voting, no hanging chads to dispute, no large blocks of votes to be excluded from a recount, and no unconscionably biased Supreme Court ruling to intervene. If you follow my argument, and if it seems plausible to you, then you have just gotten a glimpse into the twisted, dark hearts of two politicians, namely Bush and McCain. However, now you have a bonus (admittedly an ill-chosen word). Now you should be able to see how those people who are at the top of the conservative political echelon are complicit with the media moguls. Indeed, now you are looking into the twisted, dark hearts of your own nation’s political system.