Hail to the Chief

In the centenary year of the publication of Freud’s great book The Psychopathology of Everyday Life it is fitting that the new president of the United States should inaugurate his period of tenure with a ‘Freudian slip’.

Eager to demonstrate enthusiasm and a proper sense of duty, George wanted to show the world he was ready to roll up his sleeves and get on with it. The master of the ship with his hand firmly on the tiller. For the TV cameras and assembled reporters he made the parting gesture of a man in a hurry: “So let’s begin the work we were hired to do…”

I’ll just say that again: “So let’s begin the work we were hired to do…”

Freud said that slips of the tongue, just like jokes, often let the truth slip out, despite our conscious intentions. He remembers the time when the leader of the Austrian parliament, anticipating a hostile and raucous debate, opened the session with the words “I now announced this sitting closed“, revealing his true feelings.

A similar principle applies to George Bush. In democratic societies leaders are elected (‘by the people’ as they say), and we have to assume that George meant to say: “So let’s begin the work we were elected to do”. But his mistake let the truth slip out (and, to be generous, perhaps indicates a degree of unease about the role he is forced to play). Is George Bush letting us know that he is indeed no more than a hired hand for the faceless men who have financed him?

Perhaps if there are any social scientists reading this they could email the names of these people and their corporate, financial and ideological interests. Then, as the years go by, we will be able to judge for ourselves how far his policies support these interests and whether or not he really is doing the job he was hired to do.

God bless America… and Hail to the Chiefs!

Two days after I wrote the above there was a story in the Independent (Jan 24 2001):


“With the paint hardly dry in the Oval Office, George Bush is wasting no time in undoing the legacy of his predecessor. Just as he has moved to block support for charities supporting abortion abroad, he is now preparing to open up a priceless Arctic refuge to oil exploration”

Leave a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *