An Abusive Relationship

By: Erik Rush

If you’ve never been in an abusive relationship (physically or emotionally, what is being increasingly referred to as “toxic” these days), no doubt you know at least one person who is now or has been. Often it’s a wife who’s torn between trying to keep a family together versus her sanity or her life. If she’s lucky enough to escape, she’ll often be very careful about whom she lets get close and seeks some professional help if she’s smart.

Then there’s the other type of person (of course, any of these instances could be a man or woman, married or otherwise) who continually bounces from one toxic relationship to another, wasting years as they deny reality, the admonition of family and friends and finally get out – only to immediately find someone else equally or far more manipulative, cruel, antisocial or just plain unbalanced.

The only thing bystanders (friends, loved ones, etc.) can generally do is be frustrated with or emotionally detach from such an individual; despite the sufferer’s pain often being largely of their own making, this doesn’t diminish the heartbreak of observing such a life, hearing the stories, and watching self-esteem or physical health – or both – wane.

For those who might be concerned that I’ve suddenly gone “Dr. Laura” on them, I’m obviously not a psychologist (nor do I play one on TV), but it doesn’t take a Ph.D. or and M.D. to identify the manifestations and behavior patterns of these victims – if one must call them such – in the aforementioned scenarios.

“What does all this have to do with anything of an even remotely sociopolitical nature?” you say. Damn glad you asked.

It’s a sad fact (which gets sadder with each passing week) that President Bush has had an abysmally disappointing second term, perhaps even moreso viewed by those who’ve supported him. Although the rout of the Republican majority in the 2006 midterm election couldn’t have been anything but disappointing, I don’t know whether or not the President is personally disappointed with this term. As relates to the future of America and the disgust and disillusionment of Americans across the political spectrum, how G.W. Bush feels right now is the least of our worries.

Now, don’t get me wrong; whether one is a president I wanted in office or not, it is perhaps the most difficult job on the planet, and in 2000 would still be the unluckiest of the historical draw for whomever occupied the oval office. I believe that some presidents I’d just as soon have had drop dead of some latent congenital malady were sincere about trying to do the right thing.

An inadequate job is still, however, an inadequate job.

The two hottest plates Bush has had to juggle – Iraq and immigration – seem to have brought out the worst in him lately. His behavior patterns and the emotion he’s allowed to slip out resemble someone in an abusive relationship from which they perceive they cannot or should not escape. Bear in mind: I’m not suggesting the President do anything as drastic as resigning, I’m only pointing out some observations.

Who plays the role of the “abusive party” in this case is somewhat elusive; it could be Congress, factions therein, an inner conflict of ideals, or the Presidency itself. In my last column, I pointed out that certain battles should be fought when one is in a position of strength. As I’ve also said before, Bush’s recent tenacity, emotionalism and robust appeals would have much better served him in 2005; now they simply come off as veiled insecurity, uncertainty, intellectual dishonesty and obstinacy.

“Democrats in Congress are also behind schedule passing the individual spending bills needed to keep the Federal government running. At their current pace, I will not see a single one of the 12 must-pass bills before Congress leaves Washington for the month-long August recess… By failing to do the work necessary to pass these important bills by the end of the fiscal year, Democrats are failing in their responsibility to make tough decisions and spend the people’s money wisely.

“This moment is a test. Under our Constitution, Congress holds the power of the purse. Democratic leaders are in control of Congress. They set the schedule for when bills are considered. They determine when votes are held. Democrats have a chance to prove they are for open and transparent government by working to complete each spending bill independently and on time…”

- The President’s Weekly Radio Address, Saturday, July 07, 2007

Tough talk for a weekly address; lately, his public discourse has been even more confrontational. Why did we have to wait until the Republicans lost their majority to hear it? Conservative Independents and Republicans were all but begging for such unequivocal rhetoric, but all was silence.

In the case of Iraq, Bush has been caught between the Leninists in the congressional leadership (who by no means represent the majority of congressional Democrats), Republican leaders and Americans at large who can plainly see policies in Iraq are not working, and those in his cabinet who call for staying the course. For some incalculable reason it appears that “staying the course” precludes any decisive course adjustments (in which there would be no shame), even when an immense field of icebergs lie dead ahead. One prominent Republican Senator after another has abandoned Bush on his Iraq policy, most recently Senator Pete Domenici of New Mexico.

With regard to the suicidal and borderline treasonous immigration bill that has done even more to widen the rift between Republicans in Congress: On one side we appear to have as many Republicans as Democrats responding through their votes to a massive grassroots movement to kill the legislation that would do everything from ignoring enforcement first – which most Americans clearly want – to granting instant amnesty to more than 30,000 street gang members of illegal status. What this grassroots movement, headed up by organizations such as NumbersUSA accomplished was to cause members of Congress to realize that perks and lobbyist dollars and power and potential future political triumphs will not matter one whit if their constituents vote their behinds out of office.

Those in Congress who have remained behind Bush during this dangerous border legislation fiasco have done so due to shortsighted, self-serving political rationale, and (I am convinced) personal financial investiture. Again, the Republican leadership has broken with Bush in a big way, and it isn’t conservatives who are outraged; it’s Bush, his cabinet and Leninists in the congressional leadership. What does that tell you?

Is this grandstanding all ego on the part of our President? Is it a sense of real belief that these preposterous and marginally-rational policies and proposed legislation are indeed viable? Is it misplaced confidence in the wrong people? Or does he just feel trapped, like the abused in a doomed romantic relationship? His behavior certainly indicates something akin to this: Rationalization, defensiveness and – above all – denial.

There are a lot of people with whom I “talk politics”, both in and out of the sociopolitical commentary game. A few of my friends who are overworked or who’ve been vacationing (and who fall into the latter category) have recently asked me: “So what’s going on in the world of politics these days?”

All I’ve been able to do is shake my head in answer… Getting answers out of me these days is like pulling teeth.

Erik Rush is a New York-born columnist and author who writes a weekly column of political fare. He is also Acting Associate Editor and Publisher for the New Media Alliance, Inc. The New Media Alliance is a non-profit (501c3) national coalition of writers, journalists and grass-roots media outlets. An archive containing links to his writing is at His book, “It’s the Devil, Stupid!” is available through most major outlets. His new book, Annexing Mexico, has just been released.

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