The Damaged Mind of George W. BushThe Madness in His MethodBy KATHERINE van WORMERIn 2004 alone, major commercial publishers have published or will publish at least25 books attacking the character and policies of George W. Bush. Outstanding amongthese are: Against All Enemies: Inside the White House's War on Terror in whichformer counterterrorism adviser Richard Clarke documented how unconcerned the Bushadministration was with terrorism, pushing for strikes on Iraq even right afterSeptember 11; Plan of Attack by Bob Woodward who in his interviews with Bush andmembers of his cabinet confirmed the early start on a war plan to invade Iraq andrevealed a disturbing statement by Bush implying the world would come to an end;and Worse than Watergate: The Secret Presidency of George W. Bush by former Nixonlegal adviser, John Dean who stated in a TV interview that Bush's obsession withIraq started before 9/11 but "I can't understand why."Missing in all these studies is the answer to that question-why. Why was Bushobsessed with Iraq? My theory is this: We must seek the answer in an ambivalentfather-son relationship coupled with the son's almost ferocious drive to provehimself to his father and to outdo him at the same time. Take into account recentscientific evidence of possible long-term brain damage associated with years ofheavy drinking and cocaine use.Elsewhere, Alan Bisbort and I, in articles on Bush as a dry drunk, have documentedthis phenomenon. Grandiosity, rigidity, and intolerance of ambiguity are theleading characteristics of what AA folks call the dry drunk syndrome. The drydrunk quits drinking, but the thinking is not really sober.Obsessions with the bottle may be replaced by other obsessions-religiousextremism, thirst for power, etc. Twelve Step programs and treatment centers aregeared to help people mature in their thinking, to avoid the stinking thinkingthat gets them into trouble.If you study or even skim George W.'s biography, you will quickly see thepatterns-the kid who lived in the shadow of his father, the mediocre performancein the same schools where his father's reputation as a sports hero and scholarstill survived, the gaining of a reputation as a prankster. George Jr.'s drinkingbouts caused trouble in the military as well. His father was hardly pleased. Asquoted in another new book, The Bushes, Bush Sr. in addressing a question on hisson's rise to power commented, "You remember when your kid came home with two A's-and you thought she was going to fail; that's exactly what it's like."This is why Iraq, not Afghanistan, was the source of Bush's mission, why hesurrounded himself with advisers who also saw the world in terms of good and eviland who had their own motives-oil business or whatever-for heading an invasion ofthis particular country. Bush was driven toward Iraq because his father had foughtIraq, a battle that was not quite finished. Today, symbolically Bush treasuresSaddam's gun, the gun that was confiscated when Saddam was captured. The youngerBush has achieved what his father failed to do-subdued Saddam. Similarly, he triedto revive missions on the moon and on Mars even as his father had unsuccessfullytried to do. In short, there is a madness in Bush's method. To understand that isto understand the why of Iraq.Katherine van Wormer is Professor of Social Work at the University of NorthernIowa and the co-author of Addiction Treatment: A Strengths Perspective, 2008,Wadsworth.