Mannion takes on Bush’s obvious behavior issues and suggests that our petulant president may have undiagnosed learning disabilities. One of his readers, Anne Laurie, suspects that ADD, along with alcoholism, runs in the Bush family. I certainly don’t intend to contradict any of the possibilities they have posited, although any analysis (amateur though it may be) of Bush’s childhood issues is surely incomplete without an acknowledgement of that which plagues many children, conceivably those from wealthy and/or powerful families more than most—being excessively, and damagingly, spoiled.

Spoiling a child in the extreme can, much like learning disabilities or chemical dependencies, have the effect of emotionally stunting the indulged child. Bush and his siblings may or may not have been spoiled with “things,” but clearly all of them were spoiled with reassurances about their future successes, spoiled with often undeserved opportunity, and, in W’s case, this immoderation clearly continued into his adulthood, as his mistakes (Air Force antics, DUI, etc.) were handled by others on his behalf, as much as they could be. Whether Bush suffers from depression, untreated learning disabilities, addiction, we can only speculate from the sidelines, but there is undeniable evidence that he has been irreparably spoiled.

The traits of a spoiled child and indulged adult run throughout Mannion’s piece:

Who would tell him? And it's not as though he goes out of his way to find out what people think.—Indeed, he endeavors to do the opposite, surrounding himself with yes-men and blind loyalists; in effect, spoiling himself, as he shields himself from criticism and complaint.

an angry, volatile, mean-spirited, unhappy man—A man who acts angry, volatile, mean-spirited, and unhappy most evidently when he does not get his way (ref. his debates with Kerry, during which, as Mannion notes, “I sometimes thought he was going to start crying out of frustration and fear”). I don’t believe it’s a stretch to suggest that, for many of us, his ill-tempered displays at such times have evoked the image of a child’s temper tantrum.

when he should be acting most Presidential he will seem to be in his own, rather childish world—The center of his own universe. He will even seem to be completely unaware that other people can see him.—Completely unaware, or, perhaps, completely unconcerned. Witness his rude and obnoxious behavior during his interview with an Irish journalist, using a condescending tone that seems to be dripping with the sentiment that he runs the goddamned show, dammit. He doesn’t consider his behavior unacceptable, specifically because he has the expectation that it will be categorically accepted, by anyone in his presence.

There are other times when I think that he is emotionally and even intellectually retarded. Think about it. Doesn't he often come across like Tom Hanks in Big, like a 12 year old boy trying to pretend to be a grown-up?—Yes. His communications with colleagues are ridiculously immature, he insists on making up asinine nicknames for his associates and reporters and even other world leaders, he loves to play dress-up, and he makes inappropriate jokes—always casting himself as the star (hunting for missing WMDs, partying in NOLA when he was younger). He’s never grown up, because he’s never been forced to do so.

George Bush did not have patient parents.—It is often the least patient parents who are the most likely to spoil their children, the parents who find it easier to give in to junior’s whims than put a foot down firmly and draw the line, even if it means whining, howling, and crying. It’s not difficult to surmise that Bush learned this tactic early, considering he still employs it today—those in his circle who dare to oppose him are quickly dispatched to nowhere, while his devoted indulgers are promoted to their vacated positions.

The young George Bush undoubtedly had an insular childhood, while his parents refused to sully their beautiful minds worrying about the troubles of others, and in his adulthood, he has recreated that insular world. The only construct he knows, and the only one in which he feels comfortable, is that in which he is the star—the good ol’ boy jokester, the fearless leader, the #1 muckity-muck whose wisdom cannot be questioned or denied. In President Pan, where I first addressed my consternation with Bush’s habitual spoiled childishness, I wrote:

I remember being young and foolish, thinking that I knew more, knew better, than all the adults around me. I was smarter than they were, the unbearably dull old fools. Rejecting the counsel of those wiser, sensing the years in which that wisdom was earned create a seemingly untraversable distance, are familiar marks of youth, one that falls away as we ourselves age.

But imagine if someone spent his entire life never recognizing the folly of declining guidance, never learning to defer to the advice or judgment of others, always believing that he knew more, knew better, than everyone else, and so had no use for curiosity or counsel. Imagine if he were handed the power of an empire. Imagine if the boy who refused to grow up became the most important man in the world.
Well, it’s not really hard to imagine at all, is it?

Update: Pam's got more on the spoiled brat in the White House.

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