It was another crazy week.
I saw a psychiatrist and I think I made him depressed. It reminded me of something Jon Winokur had written about Oscar Levant: “Levant had been in and out of mental institutions (‘I was once thrown out of a mental hospital for depressing the other patients’), was a mass of tics and twitches, and chain-smoked Newports (although his hands shook so badly, he needed help to light them).”
I was in one of those little rooms where the nurses put you to get weighed while you’re waiting. I was there for a standard checkup, nothing mental.
The temporary intern in the office who came in to check my weight and do some paperwork was a psychiatrist or maybe studying to be a psychiatrist — a nice, clean-cut young person.
He asked me if I was depressed. I said I wasn’t. He asked if I was sure. I said I was sure. I felt like he thought I was hiding something.
Undeterred, he told me that depression can be inherited and asked if anyone in my genetic lineage had ever been depressed. I told him they all were.
I can understand his focus. When one majors in crazy, it’s good to find a depressive, someone who fits your expertise. Or as Abraham Maslow put it: “If the only tool you have is a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail.”
With crazy on a larger stage, my recent favorite was that screwy smirk on John McCain’s face after he answered a question about Osama bin Laden during the first debate involving the current crop of Republican contenders for next year’s presidential race.
“We will track him down, we will capture him, we will bring him to justice, and I will follow him to the gates of hell,” proclaimed McCain. And then he flashed that nutso grin. I think he’s nuts.
McCain also contended during the debate that the war in Iraq is “on the right track.” Fortunately he’s not with Amtrak.
Nearly as bad was Rudy Giuliani. Standing on stage with the nine other Republican candidates at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library — with Nancy Reagan in the front row, with Ronald Reagan buried on the grounds, and with the massive Boeing 707 aircraft utilized as Air Force One during Reagan’s administration suspended in midair over the audience — Giuliani explained why the American hostages in Iran were released on the day of Reagan’s inauguration in 1981.
“They looked in Ronald Reagan’s eyes and in two minutes they released the hostages,” asserted Giuliani.
On Oct. 23, 1983, on Reagan’s watch, a truck loaded with the equivalent of 12,000 pounds of TNT crashed into the lobby of the U.S. Marine Corps barracks in Beirut, Lebanon. The explosion that followed resulted in the deaths of 241 American servicemen: 220 Marines, 18 Navy personnel and three Army soldiers.
It was the deadliest day for the Marine Corps since World War II.
And Giuliani would have us believe that none of this might have happened if only the terrorists would have had a chance to look into Ronald Reagan’s eyes?
In a case to establish liability for the attack on the Marine barracks, U.S. District Judge Royce C. Lamberth ruled in May 2003 that the bombing (in Lamberth’s words, “the most deadly state-sponsored attack made against United States citizens before Sept. 11, 2001”) was carried out by Hezbollah, or Party of God, with the approval and funding of Iran’s senior government officials.
Lamberth concluded that Hezbollah, formed under the auspices of the Iranian government, was fully dependent on Iran in 1983 and assisted by agents of the Iranian Ministry of Information and Security in carrying out the bombing of the Marine barracks.
If that’s the case, is it Giuliani’s position that the power of Ronald Reagan’s eyes became somehow less important, less intimidating, to the Iranian leadership between 1981 and 1983?
The craziest question during the debate was about evolution. “I’m curious. Is there anybody on the stage who does not believe in evolution?” Three candidates raised their hands.
What’s next, asking the candidates to raise their hands if they don’t believe in gravity, or if they think Galileo was wrong about the Earth revolving around the sun?