September 2, 2007

"Self-pity is the worst thing that can happen to a presidency. This is a job where you can have a lot of self-pity."

President Bush said to Robert Draper, whose book "Dead Certain" comes out on Tuesday.
Telling Mr. Draper he likes to keep things “relatively light-hearted” around the White House, “I can’t let my own worries — I try not to wear my worries on my sleeve; I don’t want to burden them with that.”

“Self-pity is the worst thing that can happen to a presidency,” Mr. Bush told Mr. Draper, by way of saying he sought to avoid it. “This is a job where you can have a lot of self-pity.”

In the same interview, Mr. Bush seemed to indicate that he had his down moments at home, saying of his wife, Laura, “Back to the self-pity point — she reminds me that I decided to do this.”...

In response to Mr. Draper’s observance that Mr. Bush had nobody’s “shoulder to cry on,” the president said: “Of course I do, I’ve got God’s shoulder to cry on, and I cry a lot.” In what Mr. Draper interpreted as a reference to war casualties, Mr. Bush added, “I’ll bet I’ve shed more tears than you can count as president.”
Yes, a powerful person cannot express self-pity. It just doesn't play. It brings on -- as it should -- hoots of derision. It fuels satire and contempt. We know Bush contemplates the similarity between Iraq and Vietnam, and he must, then, think about whether he seems like Richard Nixon. Nixon was always trying to use self-pity in the public sphere, and it was always a ridiculous disaster.

In a newly released 11-page memorandum, Nixon plays self-pity to an absurd extreme:
... Nixon, in his own words, went "far beyond any previous president in this century in breaking our backs to be nicey-nice to the Cabinet, staff, the Congress, etc., around Christmastime in terms of activities that show personal concern, not only for them, but for their families."...

[T]his is a president who is troubled that his humanity is not being harnessed for his re-election campaign. "There are such little things, such as the treatment of household staff, the elevator operators, the office staff, the calls that I make to people when they are sick, even though they no longer mean anything to anybody," he writes...

"No president," he continues, "could have done more than I have done in this respect and particularly in the sense that I have treated them like dignified human beings, and not like dirt under my feet."...

"To sum up," he writes, "what is needed is to get across those fundamental decencies and virtues which the great majority of Americans like -- hard work, warmth, kindness, consideration for others, willingness to take the heat and not to pass the buck and, above all, a man who always does what he thinks is right, regardless of the consequences. ... In almost two years, none of this has gotten across ..."


hdhouse said...

This, for me, should be a provacative posting. I had great admiration for some things Nixon did yet on the other hand he was such a sociopathic figure, surrounded by near thugs it is a wonder we survived. But he was two distinct who did great things and one who did greatly evil things.

Maybe Mr. Bush's self-pity stems from his self realization that great things are not in his bag of tricks and history will not balance him off between the plateaus of success and the depths of failure.

Wouldn't that, afterall, be the most pitiful self-realization...that one side of the scale is completely empty?

Gedaliya said...

sociopathic figure

greatly evil

completely empty

Do really believe that Nixon was a "sociopath" who committed "greatly evil" acts, and that Bush has accomplished absolutely nothing of value during his almost seven years as president?

hdhouse said...


Tim said...


Of course. The manicheistic worldview appeals to the simplest of minds seeking validation.

Gedaliya said...

The manicheistic worldview appeals to the simplest of minds seeking validation.

Well, perhaps among some, yes, but manicheism has an ancient pedigree that defies easy explanation.

What most bothers me about such sentiments (aside from their basic vulgarity) is that they render civil discourse (at least in this medium) completely impossible to achieve. That wastes everyone's time.

I suppose, though, that lots of folks have lots of fun trading insults online, which is why they do it so much. I've certainly done my share.

Even so, I'm going to avoid it in the future, as best I can...especially here.

EnigmatiCore said...

What can you say? Blind, irrational hatred is, by definition, blind and irrational.

We saw it with Clinton, and now we see it with Bush. And the wingnuts on both sides don't recognize the reflection in the mirror as their own.

vet66 said...

Nixon was paranoid and did things that were questionable, to say the least.

Most of the lefties on this site, and in our culture, are functioning paranoids who are fearful. They, like Nixon, project their fear on the those who have the certitude of a system of values derived from morals and ethics.

Lack of a system of values condemns them to a frightening world of us against them, false reasoning, and an unrestrained logic unemcumbered by the restraints of reason.

A system of values, such as that enjoyed by President Bush and the faith based crowd, allows them a sober appraisal of their activities on a daily basis. The paranoids enjoy no such self appraisal as they flounder in the shallow waters of fear and self-delusion.

Lefties continue their delusion by referring to self-appraisal as self-pity. Interesting that the same people who can terminate pregnancies up until the moment of birth while in the same breath oppose the death (Playing GOD) can criticize people engaged in the their personal humanity (Self-appraisal) in an attempt to be worthy of GOD's creation.

The lefties accuse the rest of us for being atavistic but their behavior looks back while the rest of us look to the light-of reason and introspection.

Gedaliya said...

Your comment has too many generalizations about "lefties" for my taste. I know plenty of "lefties" who aren't paranoids without values. Sure, there are at least some number of little Stalins out there lurking about, but what use is it to paint all of your political opponents as monsters?

vet66 said...

I wouldn't characterize most lefties as "monsters" but as flawed characters. Their priorities are focused on dreamy ideals that require robust patriotism to keep the dreams alive. Failing to appreciate the fact that the "tip-of-the-spear" power projection of the U.S. military guarantees their way of life is unforgivable.

I fail to appreciate the extremes of their position from raw veganism on the one hand to anti-Americanism on the other. The world community of tyrants and autocrats who want to take the remaining global superpower down are a threat to our culture and our way of life.

The question the loony left fails to ask itself is which course is self-defeating in the extreme for a humanity that appreciates the intrinsic value of life for citizens of Hollywood's "We Are The World" fame?

That song should have been titled; "I Am The World" protected by their fellow citizens who keep the bad guys at bay!

Tim said...

"What most bothers me about such sentiments (aside from their basic vulgarity) is that they render civil discourse (at least in this medium) completely impossible to achieve. That wastes everyone's time."


Sure - and welcome to the internet, by the way.

The problem is any individual who sincerely believes Nixon, during a time of Mao, Brezhnev, Pol Pot, Idi Amin and countless others, was "evil" automatically disqualifies himself from civil discourse, regardless of reasons as to why they might believe Nixon "evil." My characterization of that may have offended you, but as insults go, it hardly registers.

Extreme, irrational, ideological partisanship distorts completely, and the notion one might engage in civil discourse when such is evidenced is quaint, indeed.

DBrooks17 said...

This is a little off-topic, but I find Gedaliya's comments interesting. The general level of political discourse is numbingly hyperbolic and demagogic. I once enjoyed the partisan give-and-take on political blogs, but I have become tired of it all. Too many ignore any facts that don't fit their chosen world view, and, worse, they ramp up the emotional rhetoric to absurd proportions in even the most mundane politcal discussions. My very dearest friend sat at my kitchen table last week, and told me that he thought that "in some ways, Bush is worse than Hitler." I replied that he was comparing the President to a man who went about the systematic eradication of millions of people--men, women, and children, not to mention the total subjugation of an entire continent--and by what reasonable criteria could he judge Bush as worse than that. His answer? "Because he has done it to us." "Done what," I asked. His reply was lacking in any details, but long on emotion. This is someone who I see as a brother--a well-educated, mostly reasonable person. I know there are people who comment here who probably agree with him. It reminds me of the same types on the right who wanted to convince us that the Clintons were personally involved in the deaths of 80-100 people. It's just unhinged. That type of "discussion" illuminates nothing other than the frightful state of the commenter's mindset. It also obscures the fact that most Americans, whatever their political leanings, desire most of the same things from their government and fellow citizens. That reality doesn't play well in the current political environment which has basically ruined any opportunity for meaningful, sober political reflection. I would say that if one finds a majority of their personal identification/worth tied up in their political affiliations, then they should take a deep breath, get off the computer for a while, and find more fulfilling pursuits.

C. Schweitzer said...

To me, these comments show a level of emotional maturity and introspection that belies attempts to paint Bush as an intellectual lightweight.

Can you even imagine Bill Clinton expressing himself this way? Self-pity combined with a persecution complex seemed more his staple emotions.

In any case, I imagine what sustains Bush is his sense of doing what he believes in his heart right.

I don't pretend to know how this experiment with democracy in the Middle East will turn out in the decades to come, but I do know that Bush at least had a new idea of how to address problems there in a new way.

Even if this grand experiment were to fail, at least Bush tried something new and bold, where all of his political opponents never offered anything new but rather the old, much failed ways of toothless diplomacy that never produced one tiny lick progress in that region.

If the experiment succeeds (which I pray daily it does), the Bush will go down as a visionary.

Gedaliya said...

I would say that if one finds a majority of their personal identification/worth tied up in their political affiliations, then they should take a deep breath, get off the computer for a while, and find more fulfilling pursuits.

Well said, and advice well taken.

Jeff said...

If Bush were to contemplate Iraq as Vietnam, his presidential parallel would be LBJ, not Nixon. Remember Johnson, the Democratic president who started that war? Or escalated it beyond JFK's modest initiatives?

Cedarford said...

dbrooks17 - Very good comments on the mindset of CDS and BDS. Not arguing more reasons that factually prove that a derangement syndrome arose in opponents of Clinton or Bush II, but why.

As for Nixon, part of his tragedy was that he battled against unlikeability, and important influencers determined to "get him back" for his anticommunist activities that had affected their friends, university chums, even family - and persecuted innocent progressives - like Hiss and the Rosenbergs. He was paranoid, but paranoid for a reason for a good deal of his career...with McCarthy dead, Roy Cohn given a pass, and RFK cocooned in Camelot and martyrdom, Nixon was the unfinished business the Left wanted to destroy...All his landslide '72 victory did was make them work harder to bring him low.

Self-pity is a defense mechanism for people who feel they are unfairly maligned in the present. If not discarded, it leads to lasting bitterness.

Nixon Derangement Syndrome followed three Presidents that were also truly hated by a substantial portion of the public, aminly on ideology and by weaving the Presidents personal flaws into the hatred - Jackson, Lincoln and FDR.

There are Presidents who had better image defense - deeply likeable, but deeply ruthless men like FDR who could sell out a friend or even a whole nation (Poland) if he found it expedient to. Though FDR was hated by tens of millions who thought he was selling out traditional America for a neo-Bolshevik, new Big Government America where the Federal Gov't might tell citizens how to run their lives....
Or JFK, who considered people outside his close posse as things to be used..little empathy.

Nixon also suffered from an inability to emotionally isolate himself. Like Reagan, who lacked self-pity because he didn't feel the urge to it over events he should have felt self-pity about - like failing to recognize who his son was at his high school graduation.(Michael Reagan).

At the end of his life, his neighbors from California and Saddle Brook NJ made some telling, and very unexpected tributes about Nixon. Not just his keen intelligence, but saying that how surprising it was to see what a normal nice and caring person he was - not fake. How well he related to young children who didn't know who he was..How humble he was, with no prentensions and interested in all things around him. Not like what they thought. And commenting on how much happier he might have been if he never had been in politics - but that if he hadn't, perhaps that America would have been the worse for it, despite Watergate.
His daughter, Julie Nixon Eisenhower, said her Dad's last few years were of a happy man, fully at peace with himself, happy to be involved from playing games with his grandkids, to writing a letter recommending a neighbor's kid for college to talking to President Clinton about policy when Clinton called.
"You can see it in the pictures we took a few months before he passed, compared to earlier ones when he was President. He was glowing from within in his last years. Look at his eyes.."

Somehow, Nixon went out without that bitterness. Good on him, or his psychologist, if he did get help in his post-Presidency.

ricpic said...

Only strong people? The expression of self-pity on anybody's part is not a good idea. We all have it. Ideally, none of us should express it. The expression of self pity does the expresser no good and even in small doses very quickly irritates the expressee.

vnjagvet said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
vnjagvet said...

I believe self pity is often episodic. Many folks who are clinically depressed exhibit such behavior. It is sometimes not a permanent part of their personality.

From my one personal contact with Nixon, I believe he may have been such a man.

As a twenty-year-old, I witnessed the most remarkable example of personal grace and control I have ever seen. The example was Nixon presiding over his own defeat by JFK in the 1960 election.

As VP, in January, 1961, it was his duty to preside over the counting of the electoral ballots in the House Chamber before all Members of Congress and the Senate. Of course, since he had lost what was the closest election in the 20th Century, he could have been excused for being stiff and formal much like Hoover with FDR in 1933 and Truman with Eisenhower in 1953. He was neither. He spent a good 20 or 30 minutes before the session started personally and cordially to greet many of the Members and Senators on the Floor. He really worked the room.

Then, when it was all over, instead of slipping off the floor to his office, he walked out by himself to meet his wife and daughters who had been in the gallery where I was lucky enough also to have been.

In the middle of the landing connecting two sets of stairs, he paused to shake hands with two of my fellow-students and me. He actually struck up a conversation and asked us each who we were and why we were there. When we introduced ourselves and told him we were taking a semester fellowship on American Government at American University, he spent what seemed like 10 minutes telling us what a great system we were studying and how rewarding a life in politics could be. "And believe me", he said with a chuckle, "I have seen the good and the bad".

He was warm, friendly and not at all what I (a Kennedy worker and campaign supporter) was expecting.

My colleagues, also Kennedy supporters, later marveled at this performance on what must have been up until then, the toughest day of his political life.

Gedaliya said...

Thanks for that.

peter hoh said...

To me, the stunning revalation in this article is that the President is not sure how it came to pass that the plan to keep the Iraqi army intact was not followed. Damn. Shouldn't some heads have rolled?

Palladian said...

"A system of values, such as that enjoyed by President Bush and the faith based crowd, allows them a sober appraisal of their activities on a daily basis."

Like Larry Craig!

dick said...


Interesting story. Wonder just how different the latter half of the 20th century would have been had Nixon won that election, I am sure that Vietnam would have been very differently handled and the whole conservative movement would have emerged differently as would the whole McGovern group of LLL dems. No McNamara, no Carter, maybe even no Reagan or Clinton. the whole Camelot era would have been missed as would the Swimming Senator.

Luckyoldson said...

The man is truly pitiful.

I loved the part where he says he can't wait to get out there to fill up them "coffers," giving speeches no less. (And he's already worth...$21,000,000)

This guy makes my Lab look like a fucking genius.

Luckyoldson said...

vet66 said..."I wouldn't characterize most lefties as "monsters" but as flawed characters"

Good Lord...try not to explode.

Luckyoldson said...

C. Schweitzer said..."...If the experiment succeeds (which I pray daily it does), the Bush will go down as a visionary."

Bush...and "visionary" in the very same sentence.

In just the past month 1,800 Iraqi civilians have died...which would be comparable to 23,000 Americans dying.)

Where the fuck have YOU been the last 7 years??

Luckyoldson said...

Draper writes that Bush was "gassed" after an 80-minute bike ride at his Crawford, Tex., ranch on the day before Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast and was largely silent during a subsequent video briefing from then-FEMA Director Michael D. Brown and other top officials making preparations for the storm.

The day BEFORE a hurricane is going to hit New Orleans...and George isn't preparing for how our government will deal with the impending tragedy, loss of life and property...he's taking a bike ride.

Pity the fool...?

jeff said...

Never understood why people believe the president of the united states should be intimately involved over every single action or event effecting the United States. Some of you do want a surrogate father figure in charge, with centralized power over every single thing in our lives. Remember when Carter maintained the schedule for the white house tennis courts? What a wonderful 4 years those were.
Good news, Edwards just came out in favor of mandatory regular dr visits. Wonder what the penalty is for missing them.

Fen said...

Yes Lucky, I think Bush even ate lunch the day before Katrina hit... If only New Orleans had Rudy as Governor or Mayor.

Thursday, August 25

5:00 PM EDT: The National Hurricane Center upgrades tropical storm Katrina to "Hurricane Katrina".

7:00 PM EDT: Katrina makes landfall in Florida.

Friday, August 26

11:30 AM EDT: Katrina is upgraded to a Category 2 hurricane.

5:00 PM EDT: The National Hurricane Center issues an advisory forecasting that Katrina would soon be a Category 3 hurricane.

5:00 PM CDT: Louisiana Governor Kathleen Babineaux Blanco declares a state of emergency for Louisiana (see public document).

Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour declares a state of emergency for Mississippi (see public document).

Saturday, August 27

President Bush officially declares that a "state of emergency" exists in Louisiana and orders Federal aid to the affected areas to complement state and local relief efforts.

5:00 PM CDT: New Orleans Mayor C. Ray Nagin declares a State of Emergency and issues a voluntary evacuation order

11:00 PM EDT: The National Hurricane Center issues a warning suggesting that Katrina is moving in a western direction in an area that includes New Orleans.

Sunday, August 28

1:00 AM CDT: Katrina is declared a Category 4 storm.

8:00 AM EDT: Katrina is declared a Category 5 storm, the highest possible rating.

Approx. 10:00 AM CDT: New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin orders mandatory evacuations of New Orleans.

Louisiana Governor Blanco sends letter to President Bush requesting various federal aid.

President Bush declares Florida a federal disaster area in light of damage done by Hurricane Katrina.

Monday, August 29

6:10 AM CDT: Katrina, a Category 4 hurricane with 145 mph winds, makes initial landfall near Buras, La.

Shortly before 8:00 AM CDT: Storm surge sends water over the Industrial Canal. Soon afterwards, Army Corps of Engineers officials believe "a barge broke loose and crashed through the floodwall, opening a breach that accelerated flooding into the Lower Ninth Ward and St. Bernard Parish."

8:14 AM CDT: The National Weather Service New Orleans office issues a flash flood warning stating there had been a breach in the Industrial Canal levee with 3 to 8 feet of water expected in the 9th Ward and Arabi.

Approx. 9:00 AM CDT: Eye of hurricane Katrina passes over city of New Orleans. 6 to 8 feet of water covers New Orleans Lower 9th Ward.

Mid-Morning: President Bush makes emergency disaster declarations for Louisiana , Mississippi, and Alabama, freeing up federal funds.

hdhouse said...

well thank you for the play by play of katrina. an earlier poster said - "jeff said...
Never understood why people believe the president of the united states should be intimately involved over every single action or event effecting the United States."

hot off the wires jeff but Mr. bush should involve himself with the major ones don't you think? or was terry shievo's midnight flight back to washington one that hit his radar while a hurricane the size of texas was give the same due as most tornados.

it is obvious that mr. bush is in a "woe is me, i'm soooo misunderstood mode" now ...hence this thread. his time is running out and he really has nothing to show for 7 years. really nothing at all except a pile of events that have overtaken him. some of you got upset because i termed nixon as evil but then again noted that he did great things as well as systematically break the law..or are you forgetting that most of his senior staff went to jail? and if it weren't for ford he would have too?

my original point, in summary, was that nixon's self pity was perhaps his weighing a pile of good against a pile of evil (presidents breaking laws are indeed evil and presidents who strike revenge against political enemies harm this republic) while Mr. Bush, wallowing out his second term of nothing now suffers massive public disapproval without zip to balance it off with. he is in one mess after another of his own creation and can't find comfort in his actions, only in his "faith" that he is doing God's work...ohh the Blues Brothers "we are on a mission from God".

I would have assumed after my original post that there would have been dozens of "hey wait, here is mr. bush's list of pluses" so he wouldn't feel so know..hey george, don't feel bad, look at all you accomplished...type of thing. but no. gedaliya asked if i really believed what i wrote and i replied "yes".

absent any proof of anything else, what is a person to think. nixon was a sociopath who wallowed in episodic jaunts between good and evil while mr. bush wallows in years of empty accomplishments where there is no solace except for Laura saying "hey babe, you're the one who wanted to be president"...come in and wash up for din din and put your toys away.

Luckyoldson said...

After all we now know about Brownie, FEMA in general, etc....leave it to FEN to defend Bush's handling of the Katrina mess.

As if the President shouldn't be locked on to any and all information regarding an impending disaster in the days leading up to it happening...instead riding his fucking bicycle.

No wonder the Republicans are in trouble.

dick said...


Of course, the fact that the president cannot force the governors of the state to release the National Guard to let the frds act on the crisis and the fact that the FEMA is set to go into effect 3 days after the crisis and the state and city are to handle it for those first 3 days, you might be right. Unfortunately in the case of NOLA the governor refused to release the troops to the feds and the mayor decided not to implement the emergency plans and the feds were there in less than 2 days. Other than that you might have a point. Of course if you read the Popular Mechanics analysis of what happened and you read what the head of the Louisiana NG had to say, that knocks your points right out of play, but keep trying. Some day you might make a half-decent point.

Fen said...

As if the President shouldn't be locked on to any and all information regarding an impending disaster in the days leading up to it happening...instead riding his fucking bicycle.

He was already responding to Katrina hitting Florida. I'm sure he continued his other duties as POTUS and CINC, with full confidence that the local Mayor and Governor would competently react to the impending approach of Katrina. If he made any mistake, it was not realizing that the corruption of New Orleans had already doomed it.

Perhaps we should pass a law that all Democratically controlled cities be put under Federal control as soon as they are in crisis - as its obvious the Dems are too incompetent and corrupt to manage their own cities.

hdhouse said...

dick...yes the president does have the authority to use the national guard...he federalizes them.

and fen, don't be dumb ok? Bush was in California on fundraisers and playing golf after new orleans went under water. remember? or do you just blot out things that don't agree with your world?

Fen said...

Bush was in California on fundraisers and playing golf after new orleans went under water. remember? or do you just blot out things that don't agree with your world?

No Hd, I'm agreeing with you: Bush should have realized that Democrats Nagin and Blanco were too incompetent and corrupt to handle the floodwaters, and placed the city of New Orleans under Federal control. Thank God NYC had Rudy instead of some Democrat...

If fact, I maintain that ALL metropolitan areas run by Democrats should be placed under Federal control, because Democrats are too stupid to plan an effective evac [even with an After Action report from a hurricane hit the previous year] and because Democrats are too corrupt to see to the safety of their own city. Its SO much easier for them to play the blame game, like Nagin screaming for buses while 300 of them sat swamped less than 2 miles from the SuperDome.

Hell, I'm surprised you Moonbats didn't blame the UN for "abandoning" New Orleans.

Note to Red-Staters in Blue City-States: Live in metropolitan areas at your own risk. Local government is too corrupt and incompetent to handle any crisis.