Russell M. Drake
Call him hypnotist-in-chief. He earned it. Among modern era statesmen, only Adolf Hitler comes close to George W. Bush’s skill level as operator of the public consciousness. Consider: After three years of terror and death at the hands of a terrorist band run by two guys hiding in caves, after a bloody, failed invasion of the wrong country in search of who knows what, after a jobs market crash matched only by the Herbert Hoover Administration, and after mismanaging huge national budget surpluses into over-the-cliff national deficits – all supported by the most outlandish lies – Bush still holds a firm grip on the minds of more than half of the people who say they’re going to vote.
The hypnosis has been so effective that it has enabled Bush to survive repeated blunders that might well have led to another man’s impeachment and removal from office, even by members of his own party. He did it with fear hypnosis, verbal confusion hypnosis, peace hypnosis, deference hypnosis, radio hypnosis, the help of the press, and the Big Lie technique pioneered by Hitler.
Bush’s political hypnosis talent, like Hitler’s, lies in taking classroom hypnosis theory and technique and projecting it to mass audiences.
Whether America is awake or not, it’s five minutes to twelve.
Bush’s most famous lies have centered around the reasons (23 counted by University of Illinois senior Devon Largio in her 2004 honors thesis) given for going to war against Iraq. The ever changing justifications for the war put Bush groupies into a state of verbal confusion hypnosis where they more or less gave up thinking for themselves and believed anything Bush said, a condition explained by Jesse E. Gordon in Handbook of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis.
Trying to sort through 23 reasons in search of the right one can be confusing, particularly when they’re given in rapid succession, over and over again.
Some might see Bush’s 23 reasons as nothing more than a scoundrel’s desperate scramble to cover his trail except that he does it elsewhere, as in his rambling State of the Union addresses where he may produce a dazzling list of jobs creation spending that quickly evaporates into thin air. Remember the hydrogen car, or launching a man from the moon to Mars?
The initial reason for war advanced by Bush was that Saddam Hussein posed an intolerable threat to the safety of Americans. In a hysterical, almost panicky call to war at the Cincinnati Museum Center, October 7, 2002, Bush belabored Saddam as a “murderous tyrant” with “an arsenal of terror” that included “a massive stockpile of biological weapons that has never been accounted for and is capable of killing millions.” Further, Bush cried, Saddam had the know-how and materials to make nuclear bombs and “a growing fleet of manned and unmanned aerial vehicles” capable of delivering chemical and biological weapons “in a region where 135,000 American civilians and service members live and work.”
Later exposed as pure hokum, Bush’s hypnotized minions bought this swindle lock, stock, and barrel. With his Weapons of Mass Destruction charges under increasing scrutiny after none were found, Bush shifted to torture themes which he used to high effect in his January, 2003 State of the Union address:
In The Group Mind, first published in 1920 by Putnam, author and social psychologist William McDougall says, “It is well recognized that almost any emotional excitement increases the suggestibility of the individual, though the explanation of the fact remains obscure.” According to recent research, the answer lies in the fact that fear messages induce subjects to react not with their logical “left brain” but with their more emotional “right brain.” The theory is explored in Mindsight, a soon to be published book by psychiatrist Daniel Siegel.
Always a step ahead of his critics, by March, 2003, on the eve of his invasion of Iraq, Bush had whipped the American public into a frenzy of war hysteria hypnosis with his fevered visions of the peril posed by Saddam.
Bush began preparations for war long before 9/11 and Hussein. The Bible on which he swore to uphold The Constitution was still wet with his palm print when the gears of war began grinding in his brain. Soon, the new president was issuing belligerent statements against other countries and their leaders, trashing traditional allies, bullying the United Nations, refusing U. S. participation in a world court to try war crimes, turning thumbs down on a global warming pact, and making policy decisions that adversely affect the poor and downtrodden of the planet.
Bush primed the terrorist bomb as surely as if he had assembled it himself. The conclusion that he did it deliberately to provoke violence that would enable him to go to war is nearly inescapable. That he wanted war to insure that he could serve two terms in the presidency is another inescapable conclusion. It could not have been lost on Bush that almost all lasting public policy has been achieved by presidents of long tenure, such as Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Harry S. Truman, Dwight David Eisenhower, Lyndon Baines Johnson, and Ronald Wilson Reagan.
Two terms would give him the time to set in motion a chain of events that would cement conservative policy so solidly in place that it would be shatter resistant, if not immune to change by succeeding administrations. “Reforming” most social programs in a way that would curtail their access by ordinary citizens, and appointing federal judges and Supreme Court justices agreeable to the process would be not just a worthy goal, but an achievable one.
Making war to hold on to political power is not a new idea. English statesman and writer Edmund Burke accused George III and his prime minister Lord North of using force against the American colonies to render critics impotent, and strengthen their hand in other ventures of empire. “Let them but once get us into a war, and then their power is safe, and an act of oblivion passed for all their misconduct,” said Burke in his Letter to the Sheriffs of Nottingham. FDR, LBJ, and Nixon were all accused of making war to extend their terms and agendas.
Ultra hawk Dick Cheney may be the Bush administration’s biggest “war makes power” advocate, a trait exhibited early in his government career and honed in successive White House assignments. The bellicose vice president, as chief of staff to President Gerald R. Ford, first teamed up with Donald Rumsfeld to convince Ford that “the way to turn himself into a real president was to stir up crises in international relations while lurching to the right in domestic politics,” writes T. D. Allman in “The Curse of Dick Cheney,” Rolling Stone online, August 25, 2004.
War is always a fait accompli. Bush knew that getting the U. S. into a Middle East conflict was an irreversible act and said as much to conservative Britons in a speech at Whitehall Palace, November 19, 2003, when he cast the war as a contract with the Iraqi people that could not be broken without going back on “our word.” Outside the palace, 100,000 Londoners called for his head.
Bush is seen all over the world as the second coming of Hitler. Type in “bush hitler” in your search engine address line, punch “go,” and you will get about 565,000 “hits,” nearly twice as many as runners-up Saddam Hussein and Bill Clinton, tied at 288,000 each.
Much of this is little more than simple name calling by people who don’t like Bush, but others see a real Bush-Hitler connection. Perhaps the clearest likeness between the two men lies in their use of emotionally induced hypnosis to plant in the mass consciousness an image of themselves as protectors of their subjects from threats to national survival both inside and outside the fatherland. His image as protector may have helped Bush siphon off some of John Kerry’s lead with women voters.
In a June, 2003 article written for The Nation about Bush’s “mastery of emotional language, especially negatively charged emotional language,” clinical psychologist Dr. Renana Brooks observed that “Bush creates and maintains negative frameworks in his listeners’ minds with a number of linguistic techniques borrowed from hypnosis and advertising to instill the image of a dark and evil world around us.”
Dr. Justin A. Frank, professor of psychiatry at George Washington University Medical Center, in Bush on the Couch: Inside the Mind of the President, published this year, finds Bush so seriously impaired mentally that he should be removed from office, not a reassuring diagnosis for someone with his finger on the button. One reviewer of the book identified Frank as a “Democrat.” Another called his work a “provocative blend of psychological case-study and partisan polemic.”
To study the Bush-Hitler connection outside the hot partisan air of presidential election politics, go to either of two books from an earlier period: ‘Hypnotism, the ne plus ultra of Hitler hypnosis books’, by George H. Estabrooks, first published in 1943, and ‘The Crowd’, by Gustave Le Bon, first published in 1897. Both writers show how leaders like Bush and Hitler get public support by spreading emotional contagion or, simply, fear.
Bush’s subliminal messages to justify religious war against “evildoers” are right out of Madison Avenue. Writing in The New Yorker of July 12 & 19, 2004, David Greenberg tells how Bush speechwriter Michael Gerson, “himself an evangelical, laces the President’s addresses with seemingly innocuous terms that the devout recognize as laden with meaning: ‘whirlwind,’ ‘work of mercy,’ ‘safely home,’ ‘wonderworking power.’”
Hypnosis goes deep, to the core of one’s being, which is why it has found wide acceptance in treating disorders such as over-eating and smoking. By getting where the addiction lies hypnosis can suppress the addiction and replace it with positive behavior. In its effectiveness, hypnosis has been compared to prayer, to which it is clinically nearly identical.
Perhaps the biggest challenge Bush has given the public is asking them to think of his war-making as, actually, peace-making. Bush has been almost studious in application of the hypnotic word “peace” to sugarcoat his designs for war. “Peace” has become his slogan.
George W. Bush misses no chance to reaffirm his dedication to peace and to denounce those who he says threaten peace. Saying that his proposal to attack Iraq should be seen as an act of peace, he mounted the pulpit of the United Nations, September 17, 2002 to bully the international body with his peace message: “The United Nations must act. It’s time to determine whether or not they’ll be a force for good and peace or an ineffective debating society.”
When Hitler preemptively invaded countries he invoked the Almighty and said he was doing it to keep the peace. Bush stood before Congress and the press, sent an emissary to the Orwellian sounding United States Institute of Peace, went on the radio, and appeared at factories and military bases, hawking his peace message while putting U. S. forces in place to invade Iraq.
With his regular Saturday radio addresses, Bush works heroically on turning Americans into automatons of subservience to his goals. Radio is the most hypnotic of the media as, in the words of Jean Dauven, “It is through the spoken word that the hypnotist exercises his power.”
The audio nature of broadcast fosters an illusion of privacy that allows the hypnotist to flatter the listener that he/she is being addressed exclusively, enhancing the listener’s suggestibility.
Bush’s thin nasal whine is not a good radio voice, and he reads like a school boy underlining every word with his forefinger. But his messages are so loaded with fear, greed, mawkish patriotism, and invocations of the Almighty that they are effective hypnosis nonetheless.
As Bush races to the wire in the 2004 presidential election race, he is being borne by the press on wings of approbation. Almost to a man, the big city dailies backed the invasion of Iraq. The New York Times and the Washington Post issued mea culpas, too late.
As an even bigger favor, the press granted Bush immunity from debate throughout the campaign year, just as it did in the 2000 election – giving him a virtual free pass to the White House. It was a gift wrapped in arrogance and negligence with overtones of complicity, even conspiracy, but however it is defined, one of journalism’s biggest all time failures.
Even as it kept Kerry’s candidacy under wraps, the press had the bare faced audacity to complain, “The American people still don’t know much about Kerry,” and “He needs to clearly define himself to voters.” By studiously ignoring John Kerry’s call for monthly debates all year long, by shutting off the one avenue Kerry had to a level playing field in his contest with the opportunistic incumbent, the press handed Bush the presidency on a plate. If Bush loses the election, it won’t be because the press had anything to do with it but if he wins he owes them a steak dinner.
What is at work here is deference hypnosis, meaning respect for an individual because of his superior position. Deference hypnosis bestows a stature that doesn’t have to be earned and may not be deserved. The press has shown susceptibility to deference hypnosis by bowing to Bush both as rookie presidential candidate and as president.
Le Bon said of deference hypnosis, “The mere fact that an individual occupies a certain position, possesses a certain fortune, or bears certain titles, endows him with prestige, however slight his own personal worth.” Le Bon could have been talking about George W. Bush. With his incumbency, his famous family, his professional sports credentials, former ownership of the Texas Rangers baseball team, his ties to the Saudi royal family and Big Oil, Bush is a walking case of deference hypnosis.
With the pressure to debate removed from his schedule, Bush was free to take the George and Laura Show on the road, preaching unchallenged his gospel of peace through war, freedom from government regulation and taxes, and privatization of Social Security and Medicare.
Before audiences of small business owners and farmers August 18, in St. Paul, Minnesota, and Hudson and Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin, in two of the “battleground” states that he narrowly lost in 2000, Bush was at his shirtsleeved best, hoarsely beseeching the crowd in all the old familiar ways:
“So I had a choice to make: either to forget the lessons of September the 11th and trust a madman who is a sworn enemy of America, or take action necessary to defend this country....Even though we did not find the stockpiles that we expected to find, I want you to remember that Saddam Hussein had the capability of making weapons, and he could have passed that capability on to our enemies....I’m really proud of our military. We’ve got a fantastic military.....
“We want more people to own things....We stand for institutions like marriage and family which are the foundations of our society....I’m running for four more years to continue to rally the armies of compassion all across America.....On September the 14th, 2001, I stood in the ruins of the Twin Towers....Workers in hard hats were yelling at me, ‘Whatever it takes....do not let me down.’....It was a powerful day.....Thanks for coming. God bless....”
Bush is nothing, if not consistent. Repeating the fear themes from 9/11 and the run up to the Iraq War is a technique of repetition hypnosis that carried over into the Republican Nominating Convention in New York with Rudy Giuliani’s 9/11 nostalgia and Zell Miller’s hysterical rant, and still dominates Bush campaign rhetoric.
“The influence of repetition on crowds is comprehensible when the power is seen which it exercises on the most enlightened minds. This power is due to the fact that the repeated statement is embedded in the long run in those profound regions of our unconscious selves in which the motives of our actions are forged,” said Le Bon.
As of September 26, the fear hypnosis was working in the “swing state” of Missouri. A voter survey in Clay County by the Guardian Unlimited newspaper concluded, “America’s heartland is afraid.” No one will ever accuse George W. Bush of stealing FDR’s line, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”