As usual, I need to start by revealing my personal disclosure of perhaps bias, my origin of interest in, and the backdrop for this somewhat offbeat, whimsical comparison and view of these two men as Presidents. And as a sop to my own ego, I must reveal/declare that I think this is an analogy that I, personally, though perhaps still mistakenly, very likely NO ONE has thought of.
The personal source of part of how this goofy metaphorical comparison came to me is indeed, “personal.” My father’s late sister was a teacher and a big cheese in American education in the 1960’s. Her name was Antoinette Miller of Houston Texas. My father and his family grew humbly in East Texas in a now ghost town that no longer exists named then, “El Mina,” Texas in the New Waverly-Conroe area and later moved during their childhoods to Huntsville. My father’s sister was the eldest and ambitious and went to college at “Texas Teachers’ College” as it was called then. One of her then classmates and somewhat close friend whom she came to know was Lyndon Baines Johnson. She rose to prominence in the NEA early in her career and was actually national President of the NEA at somewhat earlier age than most in that position. She was a national reformer and advocate and believer in the public schools as a national resource and treasure. She worked in the post-WWII years to strengthen the University of Texas state university branch system. She also in the same spirit of working to make higher education more affordable and available in this country helped in a minor but significant, persistent way, to push for the educational benefits in the FDR administration and completed by President Truman, in the GI Bill for returning veterans of World War II. my aunt’s friendship with President Johnson was deep, though largely not known nationally, but it was the basis for his appointing her his educational ambassador at large. She focused for several summers during his presidency years, visiting and studying the educational systems in India and Russia of all places! My aunt maintained her friendship and working relationship with President Johnson in her own behind the scenes style during his rough years in the Vietnam War era. I remember her stories of calling up “Lyndon,” and according to both my father and “auntie Antoinette,” she would give the President, her old college buddy, blunt Texas type unsolicited advice on his conduct of the Vietnam War. Knowing my incredibly strong-willed aunt, I can only imagine that poor LBJ had to grit his teeth and hear her out for the sake of their long-term, not well-known friendship dating back decades.
Sometimes some of the best ideas do not come from state or national planners or “inside the Beltway.”
A group in western North Carolina in the out of the way mountain tourist area of Blowing Rock-Banner Elk, NC, led by a local innovative thinker has come up with a variation on a genre of an idea kicking around the country for over a decade nows. Its core idea is preservation and re-purposing of old, abandoned but still intact properties. The property of concern is typical of a growing number of such relatively new “leftovers” as medical care models in this country continue to evolve from the 50 years ago widespread model of cottage industries small private group practices of doctors and small community hospitals serving local communities and areas.
As the current Presidential campaign/circus proceeds with unheard of antics on a daily basis, I have become reminded over and over again of the importance of the modern phenomenon of narcissism. As a tongue in cheek pictorial example to set the tone for this series of posts in the few weeks before the national election, I have chosen the famous but perhaps forgotten by many of our younger generations of the prototypical fashion dandy of Britain in the early 1800’s, Beau Brummel. In a way, he could be the male forerunner of the phenomenon of fame seekers such as the ubiquitous Kardashians.
In spite of the now rampant, free-wheeling, arm chair psychologizing and analyzing of the Republican nominee for the Presidency Donald Trump, there persists in the blather and smoke of the nondebate political exchanges among the candidates, an issue that still is important. This is the somewhat famous “Goldwater Rule,” formulated and made part of the American Medical Association’s section of Psychiatric Ethics in 1973. It basically stated that psychiatrists were being unethical if they held forth on diagnosing, attaching specific psychiatric labels and such to Senator Barry Goldwater of Arizona who was in 1964 the Republican nominee for the Presidency. A magazine published for approximately 3 years by Ralph Ginsburg, a prominent counter-culture writer in the 1960’s.
Section 7.3, which appeared if the first edition of the APA’s code of ethics in 1973 and is still in effect as of 2016, says:
On occasion psychiatrists are asked for an opinion about an individual who is in the light of public attention or who has disclosed information about himself/herself through public media. In such circumstances, a psychiatrist may share with the public his or her expertise about psychiatric issues in general. However, it is unethical for a psychiatrist to offer a professional opinion unless he or she has conducted an examination and has been granted proper authorization for such a statement. [From Wikipedia
Mass shootings have become such a “fact of life” in the Western world, that there are now website “trackers” of these awful events. This seems to have started with the question of whether mass shootings “have always been with us,” or whether they are indeed, becoming more frequent. Writers, observers, political figures, journalists, and others have been opinionating on this question now for several years. The positions that various public pronouncements have taken, have been all over the map on this vexing question. Persons of a traditionalist point of view have not given en masse the perhaps expected response that we should worry so much publicly about this supposedly new mass phenomenon. Persons who have been publicly sanguine about this issue have been social conservatives who often react with a “don’t rock the boat,” view and can be those from the Conservative Right, or those from the often worry-wart Socially Left. Political persuasions have interestingly enough, not seemed to have shaped persons’ opinions as much stereotypical thinking might have trained one to expect.
Just days ago, August 1, was the 50th anniversary of the gruesome 1966 University of Texas at Austin Tower sniping murders in which Charles Whitman, a 25 year old student shot 16 people to death and wounded 30 others. It took three brave police who forced their way onto the walkway on the tower, to shoot him to death with their pistols to end the massacre. Since as a psychiatrist, long interested in this kind of phenomenon since early unsettling forensic contact with a few shooters, I came across through my trust ever roving “search bots,” this article from NPR news on one of their blogs, recounting this fateful incident, “Gun Violence and Mental Laws, 50 Years After Texas Tower Sniper,” by Lauren Silverman.
I was quite young then, but my father’s entire extended family was from Texas and we were riveted to the television as the “tapes” of the scene were played over and over on the evening news for a few days. I had been to the mall/quad/courtyard in front of the Tower before and since the incident, but watching the scene, especially the scene of the young man covering the body of a friend with his own in the open and being shot at, was literally unbelievable in that day and time. The entire nation stopped for a few days as the horrors of the event were absorbed and the trauma processed as best one could. I recall that it was one of those events that one who lived through it, would remember the rest of their lives, where they were when they heard the news and recalls the shattering effect of the evening television news scenes. It ranked in “trauma impact” up there with the assassination of President Kennedy, the Cuban Missile Crisis, the landing of Apollo 11 on the moon during that night in 1969 and other such indelible events that our brains cannot expunge.