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Saturday, February 27, 2010

Health care summit as symptom of Obama's personality

After the recent White House call for a grand "health care summit," it's hard not to think of that ridiculous dog and pony show as revealing of Barack Obama's self-image. Did he really think that by gathering a group of Democrats and Republicans around a table he would, through the sheer force of his magnetic personality, get them to agree on the most contentious issue facing the country right now, one on which there has been such bitter debate these past eight months?

Obama seems to feel that his words and his charisma can sway anybody. He thought that by acting friendly but slightly censorious he would convince Achmadinejad to give up his nuclear ambitions. Or Putin to stop his Georgian escapade. Or Karzai to stop his corruption. But these are hard-nosed men, not in the least susceptible to Obama's cooings.

The Republican senators who were at the health care summit are also hard-nosed, even if they don't have the semi-dictatorial powers of the three men mentioned above. And when Obama called for them to show more "bipartisanship" (his definition of which is for the other side to agree to his agenda), and they didn't, he became temperamental.

This is a sure sign of a narcissistic personality. The following definition of a narcissism is from

"Narcissistic personality disorder is a condition characterized by an inflated sense of self-importance, need for admiration, extreme self-involvement, and lack of empathy for others. Individuals with this disorder are usually arrogantly self-assured and confident. They expect to be noticed as superior. Many highly successful individuals might be considered narcissistic. However, this disorder is only diagnosed when these behaviors become persistent and very disabling or distressing. Vulnerability in self-esteem makes individuals with this disorder very sensitive to criticism or defeat."

By this definition, of course, many politicians could be characterized as narcissists. And when someone becomes President of the United States, it would certainly be hard for him to overestimate his own importance. But has there ever been a President before who has felt that his very magnetism will sway other world leaders to act in ways which they see as counter to their own interests? Has there ever been a President before so "sensitive to criticism" that he complained to a news organization [Fox] which had the temerity to criticize him during the campaign, and then after his election, continued to single that network out for its critical coverage?

This is an oversimplification, but the reason people become narcissistic personalities in the first place is often because they were unloved as children, and the bonds they formed with parents were simply not that strong. (When no one else loves you, you must love yourself.)

Obama never really knew his father, who left the family when he was two. He saw him only one more time in his life, briefly, at age nine. Obama's mother sent him off to stay with his grandparents when he was ten, then left him again when he was sixteen, both times so she could be by herself in Indonesia. If Obama's mother could desert him twice, each time for at least a year, before he graduated high school, that would tend to indicate less than the usual amount of maternal instinct. (Obama himself has said that his mother provided no stability in his background.) None of us will ever know exactly what the nature of the bond between mother and son was, but from a distance, it appears weak. And in general, a weak relationship with one parent and nonexistent one with the other is a fertile background for narcissism.

Narcissists, among other things, tend to have a misguided faith in their own powers of persuasion. If Obama isn't one, he is doing a very good imitation.


Anonymous said...

How about this comment from Obama when he was challenged about the imbalance of speaking time between Republicans and Democrats part way into the proceedings:

"You're right, there was an imbalance on the opening statements because - I'm the president."

Thanks for reminding us President Obama.

According to one reference on the web the final tally of speaking time:

Republicans 110 min. (17 speakers)
Democrats less Obama: 114 min (21 speakers)
Obama himself: 119 min.
Obama + Dems: 233 min.

- Ed

John Craig said...

Thanks Ed. I hadn't heard of that comment by Obama. Reminds me of when, soon after his election, the Republicans reminded him of his campaigns speeches about how he would be the post-partisan President, and asked him why he wasn't delivering on that promise, and he just replied, "I won."