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Oct 03, 2005

All I Need Is You: The Psychology of George And Harriet

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Because so few images of Harriet Miers are available, you probably have already seen the photo of her with Bush in the canyon.  (As soon as I heard the news, I even used it in my rather snarky piece on HuffPo this morning.)

It's not just the single picture, however, that reflects her role as Bush confidant and most passive of SCOTUS nominees.  It's the context of that image in a 2002 White House photo gallery -- particularly, its placement couched below four intimate "home (only) on the range" rancher boy shots, and above two even more personal and romanticized photos -- which provides the most telling impression of why Harriet Miers is the next Supreme Court designate.

You just can't look at this series without noting that Ms. Miers is the only woman present, and that, otherwise, the images are dripping with testosterone.  That's because, a weak man consumed with power has no choice but to constantly remind others what a man he is.  In such men, you find two kinds of women surrounding him.  One is the domineering type, who he is beholden to.  (Like Laura Bush, who I'm guessing is the one who picked this candidate.) The other is the neutered type, who is no threat to the "alpha women" and makes Bush feel -- just to keep up the illusion -- like someone actually listens to him.

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You could say this appointment smacks of cronyism (the new favorite anti-Bush charge).  Psychologically though, I think that's giving Bush too much credit.  As a Chauncy Gardner-type, Bush is too defensive and lightweight to have generated that many "high power" relationships outside his immediate circle.  (Which is not to say that Cheney and the rest of the team didn't graduate from "Cronyism U.")

Others would say that Bush turns to people he "trusts."  But "trust" only exists in relationships that convey authority and equality in near equal measure.  In Bush's case, the attachments he forms with others are characterized much more by dependency.  There is the set of people he depends on to quietly tell him what to do, and there is the other group he depends on to make believe he knows.

(images 1 - 8: Unattributed.  Crawford, Texas, Friday, Aug. 9, 2002. whitehouse.gov.  image 2:  Eric Draper/White House/AP. Crawford, Texas.  August 6, 2001.  George Bush with staff secretary Harriet Miers.)

Comments

An interesting tidbit via Atrios: that ranch picture with papers was taken August 6, 2001, the date of the famous PDB "bin Laden determined to strike in the US". That kind of bleaches any other interpretation of the pic.

Looks like a photo op; Bush is trying not to look too bored. He is certainly not engaged with the memos.

it's not that he needs to 'remind others what a man he is' that worries me so, it's that he believes he's that architype. i would suspect the only role he is comfortable playing is the one in the canyon/ranch pictures. harriet i would also suspect is a very support mother figure for this role.

"(Like Laura Bush, who I'm guessing is the one who picked this candidate.)"

Right on Bag. Same opinion here.

Ms. Miers wore a bright blue outfit for the intro session yesterday, Shrub wore a blue tie.
When she's confirmed her outfit will be red and Shrub will be back in his red tie.

Cheney believes Harriet fits the mold of Scalia and Long Dong Shiver. Yeah. Can you imagine either of them serving as staff secretary?

The secretary pic is the one that gets me. I used to be one. It's what girls do when there's no money for college. As I was being groomed for this all-important role (no bitterness intended), my father once explained to me why I should be proud of this profession: "Secretary has the word SECRET in it." Yeah, so what? "A secretary is the keeper of her boss's SECRETS."

Ohhhhhhhhhhhh.

And to think I had a shot at Supreme Court justice.

If the date of the photo is correct per Alopex Lagopus, she's definitely in on all the big secrets of this administration.

Note the subservience in the last pic. How many times did I find myself standing to shuffle papers and pour coffee while all the men in the room were seated? Too many.

What really scares me about Harriet is that she's always been the token woman. In my experience, the token women are just pleasant-enough-to-look-at and not-too-bright.

Sandy and Ruthie were not token women. They got their jobs by being able-to-be-looked- at-because they really knew the law and made astonishing intellectual analyses. Sandy and Ruthie were the kind of MINDS the guys wanted to have around, not the kind of props they wanted around.

We also have Harriet to thank for continually narrowing Georgie's view of the world. She looks like a total control freak to me. Way too skinny, never been married, probably wears matching shoes and purses, paper pushing.

Some background info on Miers here:

http://msnbc.msn.com/id/9584097/

but the real meat might be this one:

http://www.nytimes.com/2005/10/04/politics/politicsspecial1/04texas.html

There are good images in the accompanying slide show.


Number 10 has a better view of the pin on her right shoulder... what organization? She wears it in other pics, so it isn't jewelry, but an announcement. The outward cross and flag is to be expected from her. There is another pin in the center, too, so it looks like she is wearing a bunch of service decorations or something to show that, yes, she is *so* qualified! The blouse has an ascot tie which is tailored like the judicial ties favored by the British... but colored to match Bush's tie!

Image #1, she looks so proud, but her blouse isn't tucked in??? Image #2... I hate to sound snarky, but Doonesbury has already been there with his brushes! Image 5 with cross and pin, uniform buttoned to her neck, and upright posture... she might as well be a visiting missionary/soldier. Image 7, she looks like a man in drag... but what is glowing in the background? Fires to be put out??? Image #9 shows a large ring where a wedding band normally goes. Is that to show she is "off limits" and so is safe (non-temptation) for the men in the room to be around?

Image #4... Bush looks like he is close to tears... that is more regret than he showed during his hurricane or hospital visits!

Hmmm... I wonder if the ring is another signet of membership?

In a small way I might feel a bit sorry for her if the Bush cabal goes down in flames: she has given all her waking hours to his service and has no life of her own. Might... but not likely, given that she is helping him in his wars of destruction and dismantlement.


I do have to wonder at the comments above saying that Laura is the dominant female. Huh? She is on anti-depressants and her husband publicly trashes and belittles her. I seriously doubt if Laura would push for any sort of recommendation, and certainly not for a woman who spends more time with her husband than she does... although putting Miers on the bench might get her out of the house.

OK, I'm wallowing in snark, and it is dawn, time for this vampire to get some sleep.


Carolly

I have yet to see one image of Miers in which she is not subservient. It's not just a matter of her physical shortness, it's her entire demeanor.

We can make any number of catty observations about her frumpy, outdated, Heartland taste in clothes and makeup. What's truly scary about her, though, is the image that comes through of deference and adoration for her Dear Leader.

How do we square this with someone who, after all, managed to get a law degree, head up a law firm (however badly she might have performed), and must have done some things well over the course of her career? Or is the only thing she's done well is suck up?

I can only guess at Bush's motives in nominating her. I suspect he's feeling increasingly besieged. If there are any "final throes" to be had, it's Bush--not the Iraqi insurgents--who's suffering them.

In such a mental state, he seeks something reliable and, voila! there's Harriet at his elbow. She answers several immediate needs: Her nomination is another distraction for the media away from his administration's gathering legal storms. She's okay with Reid, so he can avoid a confirmation fight that he might well lose. He probably can quell opposition from his base by predicting a third vacancy that will be their dreams come true (not so farfetched, either). And Harriet makes him feel good about himself. She's utterly reliable, loyal, deferential and useful.

Bush probably cried with relief when he embraced the idea of Harriet's nomination.

Of course, it's typical that Bush has no thought for the gravity of responsibility that comes with a seat on the Court. He cares not for history--beyond the historical project of ensuring a thousand-year Republican Reich. He has no respect for what the Court actually does, only what it can do to further his agenda. And Harriet, the garishly painted avatar of Bush's political game, the trained parrot of her benefactor's beliefs, is totally down with that.

After the first post by Alopex Lagopus there is nothing left to analyze.

---

That being said I will ramble on...

If the photos are from August 6th, 2001 then we have Bush once again playing the POTUS rather than being the POTUS (at least he could have read the memo he is using as a photo-op prop, blow it up and the title probably says "bin Laden determined to strike in the US", as stated by Alopex above).

As for Ms. Harriet Miers, she seems like a hard worker based on the reports, though lacks constitutional experience. It would appear that she does not believe in a right to privacy (nothing more federal than big government controlling bedroom behaviour). And as all in the oligarch (Bush, Dick, Rummy, Roberts, Rice, etc) she is down with big business (corporate lawyer)... and they throw in a chance on the moral values card for the partially uninformed (since the media is incompetent) that make up the base.

But then she seems like just another member of the oligarch. Donate to Gore when everyone in the power elite is a Democrat, and change it to Republican on the flip side when they come to power... just like changing your hedge fund, or trust. Run with the Bush crowd, be a lap dog for the man over the nation, and become a crony.

Bush said she went to public school, I wonder if that is a real public school, or a public school in an area of rich peoples houses, big difference. That is public school filtered by property taxes instead of gates and tutition. If she did boot strap herself into the crony circle then good for her. Be nice to know how, and what sellout or paradigm shift it involved (I say this since Bush appears to reward only loyalty and not competence, or counter points of view).

Sadly, and ironically (since it was the law at the time) she went to a segregated high school.

It is a shame she missed an opportunity to interact with more people of the nation and world. I just hope none of her decisions produces such an abomination.

I agree with the postings about subservience with this woman. And the images bear that out too.

but it made me think, knowing that Bush isn't stupid (he is ruthless and mean), that maybe she is a lamb being led to slaughter.

THink about the play the Bush white house would get out of her being whomped in the hearings.

they'd get to play the sympathy card, have an attack point to ward off the growing drum of "culture of corruption" mantra from democrats (true as it may be), and they'd have lots of leverage to then put a woman through who was just what their base wants.

eh...but, maybe he is just a dumbass. :-)....it's that enigma - asshole vs dumbass that makes him so interesting to me (in a sad, rome is burning kind of way)

Not to indulge in conspiracy theories, but this makes me wonder: did Bush appoint Roberts to judge the public's and media's reaction to him and then decide he would be able to get through as Chief justice? One can only speculate...

Nah, demagogue, Renquist was still kicking when Roberts was first appointed. Although the pass he got (deservedly so, sigh) probably led W to thinking that Meirs would also be a walk.

As to teh dominant female in W's life?

Momma.

Don't you even kid yourself that it is any different.

Nice to see the back buldge is back in that photo of Bush in the pick-em-up truck.

"eh...but, maybe he is just a dumbass. :-)....it's that enigma - asshole vs dumbass that makes him so interesting to me (in a sad, rome is burning kind of way)"

I owe you one, Mark. I just moved into this apartment and thanks to you my neighbors are now worried about the new tenant who lives alone and bursts into peals of hysterical laughter. BwAAAAAAAAAHAHAHAHAHA

Miers Briefed Bush on Bin Laden PDB, But Papers Handle Photo From That Day Quite Differently.

From the above link:

"But does that mean that Miers had anything to do with that briefing?"

"As it turns out, yes, according to Tuesday's Los Angeles Times. An article by Richard A. Serrano and Scott Gold observes that early in the Bush presidency “Miers assumed such an insider role that in 2001 it was she who handed Bush the crucial 'presidential daily briefing' hinting at terrorist plots against America just a month before the Sept. 11 attacks.”


We'll never really know what papers she was handing the boss at the exact moment the photo was taken, but she certainly knows STUFF. Secret stuff.

Bush's ear plugs speak thousands of unheard words.

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