Friday, March 03, 2006

IRONY: It's rare when we're allowed to

... witness both sides of a pendulum's swing.

When I started this post 24 hours ago I thought it would be an easy one. Two meetings, a luncheon, and a family latter and I'm just getting it out. At first there were only four or five blogs ahead of me and I wasn't worried; then The Conservative Cat posted twice in a couple of hours and I knew I had to hurry. Then Blogger interfered and this morning my HTML was all messed up because I hurried. Aaaarrrrggghhh!

The psychiatrist who accused Ronald Reagan of diminished mental capacity has now been accused of the same.
Gottschalk, UCI, Nigerian scamLouis Gottschalk gained prominence in 1987 by claiming that his studies of President Reagan's speech patterns showed Reagan had been suffering from diminished mental ability as early as 1980. [TimesLeader]
Gottschalk's son claims, in a lawsuit designed to save the family jewels, his father (a renowned psychiatrist) "lost up to $3 million over 10 years to a Nigerian Internet scam." [MS/NBC]
Under the Nigerian "419" scam — named after the country's legal code for fraud — criminals send junk e-mail to thousands of unsuspecting people offering them a share in a large fortune if they can only provide a smaller amount of money up front. The criminal takes the money and then disappears. [SFGate]
The debate evidently centers on how much was actually lost and whether the senior Gottschalk was fully aware of his actions.

Gottschalk, UCI, scamDr. Louis A. Gottschalk, an 89-year-old neuroscientist who works at the University of California, Irvine medical plaza that bears his name, acknowledged losing $900,000 to "some bad investments," according to court papers.

Guy Gottschalk filed a lawsuit last month asking a judge to remove his father as administrator of the family's $8 million partnership. He alleges his father destroyed bank records to cover up his losses. [MS/NBC]
Okay, this is the guy who treats people for mdiminished mental capacity, runs a medical practice at the hospital involved in the doner egg scandal a decade ago, the liver debacal last year, and who insists that all seniors (recall he's almost 90) have some debilitating mental disorder and shouldn't work in extreme decision making capacities.
He alleges that his father traveled to Africa to meet a shadowy figure known as "The General" and destroyed bank records to cover up his losses.

"While it seems unlikely, even ludicrous, that a highly educated doctor like (Gottschalk) would fall prey to such an obvious con, that is exactly what happened," the son's attorney wrote in court papers. [SFGate]
Of course it wasn't unlikely that two Republican presidents "would fall prey to" diminished capacity.

CNN, in a transcript from October, 2004, titled
Medical Secrets Behind Presidential Health, dicusses Gottschalk's claims with a panel.
GUPTA: In 1964, "Fact" magazine quoted dozes of liberal psychiatrists analyzing Republican presidential candidate Barry Goldwater. Some examples: "A dangerous lunatic..." "a result of rigid toilet training..." Goldwater sued for libel and won.

(on-camera) Since then, the American Psychiatric Association tells its members not to analyze public figures from a distance. Of course, some psychiatrists still do, with varying degrees of scientific rigor.

(voice-over) In 1984, Dr. Louis Gottschalk, a prominent neurologist and psychiatrist, studied the debates between then President Ronald Reagan and his challenger, Walter Mondale. Gottschalk is 88 years old now. He goes to work every day in the building that's named after him at the University of California in Irvine. He works with the Gottschalk-Gleser(ph) scale, also named for him. It's a neurologic test of a person's ability to think clearly -- by looking at speech - does that person repeat himself? Does he lose focus on what he's saying - you derive a score. A score between zero and one is considered normal.

RONALD REAGAN, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT (video clip): The system is still where it was with regard to the progressivities I've said...

GUPTA: In the presidential debates that year, 1984, Mr. Reagan's score was 2.14, out of the normal range, signaling moderate impairment.

REAGAN (video clip): I have no hesi - hesitancy in saying so, and - the prayers are answered.

GUPTA (on camera): He looked a little lost there.

DR. LOUIS GOTTSCHALK, NEUROLOGIST, UC IRVINE: I think so, too. He'd repeat himself so much, and sometimes wouldn't finish sentences.

GUPTA: Did President Reagan have Alzheimer's when he was president?

GOTTSCHALK: I think he did. Some form of it.

GUPTA (voice-over): Ridiculous, say those who were close to the president. They say symptoms never appeared while he was still in office. They point to major triumphs of his second term. Landmark arms control deals and the crumbling of the Soviet Union. Alzheimer's creeps into a person' mind over a period of many years. In the president's case, the process likely started well before 1994, when he announced his condition publicly in a handwritten letter. But that doesn't mean he showed symptoms in office. And it may not have affected him at all for years.

DR. JOHN HUTTON, WHITE HOUSE PHYSICIAN, 19841988: I never, absolutely never - as the expression goes, he had forgotten more than I ever knew. You know, it was the type of thing that I never really noticed anything of any sort.

EDMUND MORRIS, REAGAN BIOGRAPHER: The unshakeable evidence is his diary entries. Every night this man wrote an account of his day as president. Every night for eight years. And the entries of his last days in office are as lucid and controlled and logical as they were when he became president.


GUPTA: Why should someone believe this, that President Reagan, while president, had Alzheimer's?

GOTTSCHALK: Well, the clinch(ph) word is "should." I don't know that I would go that far. I don't believe that everybody will believe scientific findings.

GUPTA: Gottschalk, who didn't publish his study until Reagan's term was ending, denies any political motivation. Democrats also faced questions about their mental state. The minds of presidents Woodrow Wilson and FDR were slowed by serious illness. Republican Dwight Eisenhower suffered a stroke and Lyndon Johnson's biographer, Michael Beschloss said Johnson struggled with depression and paranoia.

Do you think top officials such as presidents or leaders at various states should be tested in some way for cognitive dementia?

GOTTSCHALK: I think so. But whether it can ever be done, I doubt.

BROWN: Well, as the former director of the NIMH and forty years of psychiatry, I think it's a terrible idea. I don't think any set of psychiatric and psychological examination would tell us any more than a person of wisdom and maturity would say about the president's status.

GOTTSCHALK (voice-over): It's all right to have a physical abnormality, but to have a mental problem is very touchy. [CNN transcripts]
In all fairness to the elder doctor I don't read his comments as that hostile to the president; after all, this was a panel discussion on CNN just prior to the 2004 elections and everything said on that network at that time had to be taken with a grain of salt.
The younger Gottschalk claims in court papers he filed the suit to prevent his father from being further victimized. [...]

A hearing in Guy Gottschalk's lawsuit is set for March 14. [MS/NBC]
Let's hope the good doctor gets a fairer hearing than Reagan or Bush got on CNN.

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