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Posts Tagged ‘Narcissism’

Andrew Sullivan is nothing if not prone to revisiting his earlier enthusiasms.  I suppose there is a kind of authenticity in that . . . “often wrong, but never uncertain!”  He loved Bush for a while, but grew disenchanted on account of Iraq and the gay marriage issue. Then he liked Ron Paul for a spell until Paul’s old school conservative views from the early 90s were revealed.

Now he is down on Obama due to the Libyan campaign (and in particular the lack of any public relations campaign). I checked Sully’s website not sure if he’d be against the campaign or say that anyone opposed to it was the second coming of Neville Chamberlain. His strong enthusiasms are not matched by equal philosophical clarity.

But Sullivan does make a good point that every patriotic American should agree with:

My anger is not simply at what I regard as the folly of starting a long war with someone as insane as Qaddafi, but at the way this war was foisted on the public with absolutely no warning.

It shows contempt for the American people, and their views, and contempt for the Congress and its role in deliberating before going to war. As [James] Fallows notes, this entire debate was entirely about changing one man’s mind, not the country or the Congress or the people. Only the emperor counts, and if he happens to be wrong, tough luck. Who would have thought we’d elect Barack Obama to replicate the worst aspects of an unaccountable executive?

Sully is confusing his idealized image of Obama with Obama the reality.  Obama is not replicating anything.  He is taking the natural tendency of the American executive–to obtain and protect power in its operational sphere–and wedding that to un-American big government ideas.  He believes in government, his foreign policy views derive from his concern that his domestic big government programs may be harmed by foreign wars, and, more than the average politician, he really really believes in himself.  Obama doesn’t have much faith in America, however, so when he’s alienating the majority of Americans (as in healthcare) or thumbing his nose at historical American practice (as in the Libyan operation) he feels like he’s being faitful to his core mission.

Obama’s incoherent embrace in 2008 of the war in Afghanistan while poo-pooing Iraq should have been a clue.  By then, both were the same types of campaigns fought for the same reasons using the same strategy.  True, Afghanistan harbored the 9/11 attackers and began as a revenge operation, but by 2008 both wars were nation-building efforts to spread Muslim democracy and root out homegrown anti-government insurgents.  By 2008, neither campaign had much of anything to do with revenge or international terrorists, other than a prop in the propaganda that supported the campaigns.  That Obama could embrace this kind of incoherent nonsense bode ill of him, and I wrote as much at the time.

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A Little Comic Relief

Charlie Sheen, whom I know almost nothing about, has apparently lost his mind.  Anyway, a cool website connects his meglomaniacal quotes with cute pictures of cats. And if you know anything about cats, it’s obvious that they have much more in common with narcissistic Hollywood actors than most of us would care to admit.  Enjoy!

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Obama is starting to lose it.

Most politicians are more than a bit narcissistic.  You have to really believe in yourself to run for office, and no one has been drafted to run, Cincinnatus-like, since the age of Andrew Jackson.  That said, moderately narcissistic men can also be great leaders through balancing qualities such as empathy, brains, imagination, experience, patriotism, and good ideas.

Obama is not such a man.

He does, however, really really love himself.  And unlike other recent presidents, such as Bush or Clinton or Carter, he seems to find himself to be the most interesting subject imaginable.  If Carter’s fatal leadership flaw was micromanagement, and Clinton’s self-destructive appetites, and Bush a lack of imagination and ability to change, Obama’s is his huge blind-spot to his own failure to connect with and persuade the American people, a failure of communication that derives from his utter self-obsession.  His writings and his personal interests typically grow from this exaggerated interest in himself and his confused identity; this explains his strong interest in black history, anti-colonialism, Kenya, and Islam, and this also explains his relative lack of interest in law, legislation, public policy, and much else that should be in his portfolio.

Now that he has accomplished much of the agenda he set out for his first term in office, he is a bit confused and disoriented.    His agenda has succeeded in (a) doing nothing to revive the economy and (b) making Obama very unpopular with both Democrats and Republicans, as well as Independents.  His disorientation flows from his lack of capacity for self-criticism and change, and he lacks this capacity because he has for so long been  isolated, self-obsessed, and disinterested in what others have to say, that he cannot read the tea leaves of mass public discontent.  He’s like the salesman whose pitch does not solicit and evolve based on feedback from the customer.  He’s selling brand new and expensive Toyota Priuses to a nation that would just like to buy a car that runs.

Obama does not connect with the American people.  He never really did, after all.  Rather, an image of him as the healer of racial divisions, an image concocted by David Axelrod and the America media, won the election of 2008.  The real Obama–the untested, short-tempered, immature, self-obsessed, liberal elitist with a chip on his shoulder about America and its people–is becoming increasingly erratic and ineffective.

This week, Obama blames his core supporters for his troubles:

People need to shake off this lethargy,” Obama told People magazine. “People need to buck up … if people now want to take their ball and go home, that tells me folks weren’t serious in the first place.”

That’s one way to put it.  Notice the “need to” rhetoric; this is the tell-tale rhetoric of someone totally disinterested in what other people are inclined to do, would rather do,  have a perfect right to do.  Obama is an aggressive narcissist.  He sees himself as much more than a mere elected official, subordinate to the people, who are ultimately sovereign and whom he ultimately serves.  In his eyes, he’s the embodiment of a movement for national renewal and national redemption, hope and change and all that.  He is the true will of the people, expressed in its highest, most aspirational manner. But perhaps the people are not up to the challenge.  That’s your problem, and it’s your fault if his presidency results in failure.

After all, let’s not forget how his wife Michelle suggested Obama’s presidency would work back in the campaign:

And Barack Obama will require you to work.

He is going to demand that you shed your cynicism, that you put down your division, that you come out of your isolation, that you move out of your comfort zones, that you push yourselves to be better, and that you engage.

Barack will never allow you to go back to your lives as usual – uninvolved, uninformed…

So you see, if you don’t like him, you’re just not trying hard enough.  If you protest him and his policies, you’re engaged in “division” and “cynicism.”  And if you fail him by not getting out to vote as he tells you that you “need to,”  it’s your fault he’s so incredibly unpopular, and you ultimately fail yourselves.

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