There is one thing many of us can agree on. Most politicians, some to a much greater degree than others, are narcissists. Everyone needs a healthy degree of confidence to be successful, and given the media exposure and oppositional nature of the job, elected officials and those seeking election need plenty of self assurance. However, pols suffering from an acute overdose of narcissism can be problematic, even dangerous. That would especially apply to those occupying our highest offices.
People who go to the extreme are defined as having “narcissistic personality disorder”. The Mayo Clinic lists 16 possible symptoms:
- Believing that you’re better than others
- Fantasizing about power, success and attractiveness
- Exaggerating your achievements or talents
- Expecting constant praise and admiration
- Believing that you’re special and acting accordingly
- Failing to recognize other people’s emotions and feelings
- Expecting others to go along with your ideas and plans
- Taking advantage of others
- Expressing disdain for those you feel are inferior
- Being jealous of others
- Believing that others are jealous of you
- Trouble keeping healthy relationships
- Setting unrealistic goals
- Being easily hurt and rejected
- Having a fragile self-esteem
- Appearing as tough-minded or unemotional
While you’re picking your pol and matching them up to the checklist it’s worth noting there could be a darker side to all this. In his book Malignant Self Love, Narcissism Revisited, Dr. Sam Vaknin, argues that given the Grandiosity Gap “between narcissist’s self-image and reality” he or she may seek an “Antisocial Solution” by renouncing reality. They can become delusional, defined as: “a false belief based on incorrect inference about external reality that is firmly sustained despite what almost everyone else believes and despite what constitutes incontrovertible and obvious proof or evidence to the contrary.” Translation: They see what they want to see, practically no matter what.
If you’re linking some of the 16 symptoms and definition cited above with President Obama’s increasingly detached, haughty, sometimes bizarre behaviors during the most recent series of deadly crises you are likely not alone. Even his incredulous peeps in the media are forcing themselves to use words like “out of touch”, “indifferent”, “aloof”, and “distant” when describing Obama. It seems the more serious the crisis the more likely he is to pick up and head out to fundraisers. While deaths in Benghazi, Fort Hood, Israel’s ground war with terrorist Hamas, and the Malaysian passenger jet remain in many ways the most powerful indictments of the president’s prioritizing political money grubbing over tragic events, Barack’s refusal to visit the Texas border may be the most instructive.
It was in the Lone Star State Obama collected a ton of dough, but steadfastly refused to take a short trip to see, with his own eyes, the chaos along the Rio Grande. He even ignored calls from his own party to make a visit. Politicians and pundits alike were mystified by the president’s complete lack of sensitivity in this matter. While excuses, explanations, and theories abounded it seems to us that no one made a strong enough case for the simple fact Barack Obama didn’t go because he knew it would be an undeniably, harsh look at a reality he didn’t want to see. Surrounded by cameras while surveying the bedlam accompanying a border about fully breached would not be an image easily erased. States Dr. Vakin, “Narcissist delusions rarely persist in the face of blanket opposition and reams of evidence to the contrary.” Translation: A half an hour in the midst of that turmoil would be stuck in Barack’s mental hard drive.
So the president’s conscious choice to spend time among adoring crowds paying big bucks just for a glimpse of their hero was an easy call and fit right in with Vakin’s assertion that the narcissist “usually tries to convert” those around him “to his point of view”, and “attempts to condition those nearest and dearest to positively reinforce his delusional False Self.” Well hell, at a fundraiser where folks are coughing up $32,000 a head to say “Hello”, there are no conversions necessary. Given whether he could view a catastrophic situation in “real time” or go to his “happy place” Obama chose the latter.
That’s the point, and it’s a scary one. It seems the bigger the calamity the more likely President Obama is to disappear into what Dr. Vakin describes as, “an aggrandizing narrative, a fairy-tale existence”. Translation: When the going get’s tough Barack Obama get’s going, to receive adulation and dollars at super-friendly fundraisers. But the big question is “Why?”.
Is it because?
a) reality sucks
b) those are the times his delusions need the most reinforcing
c) all of the above
We’re going with “c”.