Not that politicians and pundits are mentally ill in a clinical sense, but politics in American national life today can only be presented in pathological form. Politics no longer involves the public use of reason; it is instead a matter of psychopathology, and is already treated as such by politicians and the public alike. Only this can account for the political centrality of the “gaffe” or slip of the tongue, an eminence that verbal inadvertencies have not enjoyed since the early days of psychoanalysis. But verbal or other symbolic blunders (Michael Dukakis looking not macho but dweeby in a battle tank; George W. Bush standing before a hubristic MISSION ACCOMPLISHED banner) are only the raw material or starting point for the practice of politico-psychopathology. The end result is an analysis—usually an accusation—of the “true” meaning not only of a politician’s words but of his hidden nature and undisclosed program. Almost invariably the true meaning reveals a taboo intention or identity.
more from Benjamin Kunkel at n+1 here.