Rx for W: Electoral Surgery
By Richard Leiby
Thursday, June 10, 2004; Page C03
We can assure you nobody will be caught perusing this book in the White House. "Bush on the Couch," authored by a longtime Washington psychiatrist who has never met or treated the president, offers "an exploration of Bush's psyche" that delves into such touchy topics as his baby sister's death, his relationship with his mother and father and his drinking history.
In the book, to be released Tuesday, Justin A. Frank, a clinical professor at George Washington University Medical Center, claims President Bush exhibits "sadistic tendencies" and suffers from "character pathology," including "grandiosity" and "megalomania" -- viewing himself, America and God as interchangeable. Frank told us yesterday that his opinions are based on publicly available materials, adding, "I've never met the president or any members of his family."
A Democrat who once headed the Washington chapter of Physicians for Social Responsibility, Frank concludes in the book: "Our sole treatment option -- for his benefit and for ours -- is to remove President Bush from office . . . before it is too late."
Frank, who has practiced for 35 years, told us he began noting Bush's mannerisms in the fall of 2002. "I was really very unsettled by him and I started watching everything he did and reading what he wrote, and watching him on videotape. I felt he was disturbed." In the book, he writes that Bush "fits the profile of a former drinker whose alcoholism has been arrested but not treated."
A White House spokeswoman would not comment yesterday on "Bush on the Couch," reiterating a statement from communications director Scott McClellan: "I don't do book reviews." (Although the White House has recommended Bob Woodward's "Plan of Attack.")
Chrissy for President!
• When we spoke in March to Chrissy Gephardt, daughter of Missouri Rep. Richard Gephardt, she told us: "Who knows? Maybe one day I'll have political aspirations myself." Now she's displaying them as an "American Candidate" -- picked to compete with nine others on Showtime's latest reality TV iteration. The winner in this fake presidential race gets $200,000. "I could use the money," she told us.
With support from her father and Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D-R.I.), the 31-year-old lesbian activist made her "campaign announcement" Tuesday night in Washington -- her first challenge on the show, which will tape for the next five weeks. "He loved it and thought it was a great idea," Chrissy says of her father, a Democrat who has twice run for president. "He's a pretty good role model to have." (Except he never actually grabbed the brass ring.)
That sign should read "Chrissy Gephardt, 2004" as Richard Gephardt's daughter is running for president - on TV.
(James A. Finley - AP)
Another possibly-soon-to-be famous local who made it to the finals: Malia Lazu, 27, a political organizer from Takoma Park, who proclaims on Showtime's AmericanCandidate.com site that she understands the problems of the poor and aims to "Put the 'Diva' in Democracy." (Hmm. Divamocracy?)
Bruce Friedrich, 34, a PETA activist from Norfolk, also is competing. "Friedrich said Monday that appearing on the show is outside his comfort zone," the Associated Press reported, "but that he's doing it because he believes 'animals deserve to have their interests considered.' " His past PR stunts to raise animal rights awareness include passing out "Unhappy Meals" to kids.
"American Candidate" was created by R.J. Cutler, filmmaker behind "A Perfect Candidate," a documentary on Oliver North's unsuccessful bid for a Senate seat. The series debuts Aug. 1. We think that's sometime in the dog days of the silly season.
Spinning One for the Gipper
• At an awards luncheon yesterday for women in government sponsored by Good Housekeeping magazine, Lynne Cheney invoked the struggles of suffragettes Jane Addams, Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Stanton Cady in securing women's rights. "Men have helped in our struggle, too," noted the vice president's wife, "and I would feel remiss today if I did not recognize Ronald Reagan, the president whom we mourn, as one of them."
The Gipper was a feminist champion? In the early 1980s, polls found that many women held the opposite view. "I realize that historians have not usually thought of him as a man who broke way for women," Cheney said, departing briefly from her prepared text at the Library of Congress. But she listed some of his appointments, including her own as the first female chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities, to make the case. Reagan named Margaret Heckler secretary of health and human services, Ann Korologos secretary of labor, Elizabeth Dole secretary of transportation and Jeane Kirkpatrick ambassador to the United Nations. Cheney called these appointments "a record for that time."
Her kicker: "It is well worth remembering that when Ronald Reagan became president on January 20, 1981, not a single woman had ever served on the Supreme Court. Before the year was out, he had nominated Sandra Day O'Connor."
• You rarely see Sen. Ted Kennedy wandering around the Capitol -- or Washington or Hyannis Port -- without his faithful dog Splash close by. And now Kennedy wants to share the perspective of his 7-year-old Portuguese water dog with children everywhere. The Boston Herald reports that Kennedy is writing a kids' book about the Senate based on Splash's view of things. There's no signed contract, but Kennedy is speaking to a publisher, his spokesman told us yesterday. No title yet, but we're sure to hear some mean jokes if it's called "Splash."
• While the Russian Embassy and the Embassy of the Czech Republic have canceled events in deference to Ronald Reagan's funeral service Friday, the alternative crowd is putting together a different kind of remembrance on the federal day of mourning. In a release yesterday, Visions Bar Noir invites '80s fans to "party hardy" and "discuss the real highlights of the Reagan era: Star Wars, Bitburg, Iran Contra, AIDS, Say No To Drugs." From noon till 4 p.m., deejays will spin Ramones, Cure and Clash tunes while the theater is screening two movies with Reagan: "Bedtime for Bonzo" (1951) and "The Killers" (1964).
With Anne Schroeder
© 2004 The Washington Post Company
Frank medical advice: "remove President Bush from office."
In some editions of the Post, the June 10 Reliable Source column transposed the maiden and married names of a suffragette. Her correct name is Elizabeth Cady Stanton.
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