Charles Krauthammer

Diane Rehm: ``Why do you think he (Bush) is suppressing that (Sept. 11) report?''

Howard Dean: ``I don't know. There are many theories about it. The most interesting theory that I've heard so far -- which is nothing more than a theory, it can't be proved -- is that he was warned ahead of time by the Saudis. Now who knows what the real situation is?''

-- ``Diane Rehm Show,'' NPR, Dec. 1

It has been 25 years since I discovered a psychiatric syndrome (for the record: ``Secondary Mania,'' Archives of General Psychiatry, November 1978), and in the interim I haven't been looking for new ones. But it's time to don the white coat again. A plague is abroad in the land.

Bush Derangement Syndrome: the acute onset of paranoia in otherwise normal people in reaction to the policies, the presidency -- nay -- the very existence of George W. Bush.

Now, I cannot testify to Howard Dean's sanity before this campaign, but five terms as governor by a man with no visible tics and no history of involuntary confinement is pretty good evidence of a normal mental status. When he avers, however, that ``the most interesting'' theory as to why the president is ``suppressing'' the 9/11 report is that Bush knew about 9/11 in advance, it's time to check on thorazine supplies.

When Rep. Cynthia McKinney first broached this idea before the 2002 primary election, it was considered so nutty it helped make her former Rep. McKinney. Today the Democratic presidential front-runner professes agnosticism as to whether the president of the United States was tipped off about 9/11 by the Saudis, and it goes unnoticed. The virus is spreading.

It is, of course, epidemic in New York's Upper West Side and the tonier parts of Los Angeles, where the very sight of the president -- say, smiling while holding a tray of Thanksgiving turkey in a Baghdad mess hall -- caused dozens of cases of apoplexy in otherwise healthy adults. What is worrying epidemiologists about the Dean incident, however, is that heretofore no case had been reported in Vermont, or any other dairy state.

Moreover, Dean is very smart. Until now, Bush Derangement Syndrome (BDS) had generally struck people with previously compromised intellectual immune systems. Hence its prevalence in Hollywood. Barbra Streisand, for example, wrote her famous September 2002 memo to Dick Gephardt warning that the president was dragging us toward war to satisfy, among the usual corporate malefactors who ``clearly have much to gain if we go to war against Iraq,'' the logging industry -- timber being a major industry in a country that is two-thirds desert.


Charles Krauthammer

Charles Krauthammer is a 1987 Pulitzer Prize winner, 1984 National Magazine Award winner, and a columnist for The Washington Post since 1985.

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