George H.W. Bush: Mental Lassitude, 1992

The listless second half of the Bush presidency, as well as his uninspired campaign for re-election in 1992, raises the question of whether he suffered depressive or other psychological sequelae of his thyroid disease. There is no objective evidence for this yet -- it is pure, weak speculation.

Watching a few semi-candid clips of Bush from October 1992 1 only strengthens an impression of mental lassitude SEE BELOW. Asked by Larry King what disease he (Bush) had just had, Bush replied "Crohn's? No, not Crohn's. Uh, just thyroid." An apathetic- and listless-appearing Bush also seemed to think that Halcion (a sleeping pill he had taken) was a decongestant. Comment: Either Bush was amazingly ignorant of his medical issues, or he was not firing on all cylinders.

stops Halcion
On Feb. 5, 1992 the White House announced that Bush would no longer take Halcion, a sleeping pill that had been banned in Great Britain and was ultimately withdrawn from the American market. There had been questions whether Halcion was responsible for the President's "tangled syntax" or his illness in Japan 2a.

Listening to him discuss Halcion with Larry King, it seems that Bush was a fan of the medicine SEE BELOW.

The movie Spin shows two clips of Bush talking to television host Larry King during short non-broadcast intervals.

The first clip, from October 7, 1992, started with a discussion about Bush's thyroid condition (Graves disease) and also mentioned the sleep drug Halcion, which Bush had taken until he very publicly discontinued it earlier that year 1a:

King:You feeling well by the way?
King:Are you feeling well?
Bush:Pretty good. Lucky. Running still and played tennis yesterday.
King:What is that disease you had?
Bush:Um, um. Crohn's? No, not Crohn's. Uh, just thyroid. I don't know what...
King:[interrupting] What, they treat it, right?
Bush:Make you take a drug every single morning. A little blue thing. Synthroid or something and it wasn't heart. It's what, it's what the thyroid does to make your heart fibrillate but it's been very good.
King:[interrupting] You know I took Halcion for a long time after my heart surgery.
Bush:Are you off it now? I don't know that it's bad, Larry.
King:It's the best sleeping pill in the world but not daily.
Bush:No oh no. But now it's gotten such a bad rap.
Crohn disease is a gastrointestinal disorder.

In the second clip, four days before the 1992 election, Bush remarks that he had "a darn cold" and fever 1b. He looked tired, apathetic, and seemed mentally slow. After confessing his cold, King and Bush again discussed Halcion 1c:

King:... there is a new pill coming from Israel better than Halcion.
Bush:You mean for sleeping or decongestant?
Halcion has no decongestant properties.
Cited Sources
  1. Springer, Brian. Spin. [Movie, 1995]. Accessed 6 July 2006.
    a  6:27 into the movie  b  48:21 into the movie  c  49:15 into the movie

    Comment: This movie is largely composed of clips from 1992 television satellite feeds. These feeds are usually not broadcast in their entirety. For example, satellite feeds can include recordings made during commercial breaks or before a show starts. With the proper equipment, anyone can pick up satellite feeds (although they may be encrypted). 57 minutes 26 seconds. Movie accessed at:

  2. Bumgarner, John R. The Health of the Presidents: The 41 United States Presidents Through 1993 from a Physician's Point of View. Jefferson, NC: MacFarland & Company, 1994.
    a  p.295

    Comment: Devotes one chapter to each President, through Clinton. Written for the layperson, well-referenced, with areas of speculation clearly identified, Dr. Zebra depends heavily on this book. Dr. Bumgarner survived the Bataan Death March and has written an unforgettable book casting a physician's eye on that experience.

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