Free Markets, Free People

An Interesting Point And An Interesting Question

Marty Peretz, editor-in-chief of The New Republic, has some interesting things to say about the Obama Olympic trip. He too seems to have come to the conclusion many of us have about our new Commander in Chief:

What I suspect is that the president is probably a clinical narcissist. This is not necessarily a bad condition if one maintains for oneself what the psychiatrists call an “optimal margin of illusion,” that is, the margin of hope that allows you to work. But what if his narcissism blinds him to the issues and problems in the world and the inveterate foes of the nation that are not susceptible to his charms?

Chicago will survive its disappointments and Obama will, as well. It is the other stage sets on which the president struts–like he strutted in Cairo and at the United Nations–that concern me.

To the point:

If Obama could not get Chicago over the finish line in Copenhagen, which was a test only of his charms, how will he persuade Tehran to give up its nuclear weapons capacity or the Arabs, to whom he has tilted (we are told) only tactically, to sit down without their 60 year-old map as guide to what they demand from Israel.

Good question. To this point, “persuasion” seems to be the sum of our foreign policy strategy. What’s our alternate strategy if that doesn’t work? Or is our “clinical narcissist” beyond the “optimal margin of illusion” besides seeming to be in way over his head?



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21 Responses to An Interesting Point And An Interesting Question

  • So…can I puzzle out why many of us, without magic letters trailing our names, or titles preceding them, detected this guy was probably a classical narcissist many months ago?

  • If Obama is, in fact, a narcissist working outside the “optimal margin of illusion,” then one might believe that the process of return to the “optimal margin of illusion” could be a very depressing journey.

    I can’t but wonder if we are seeing the Presidential version of Jayson Blair.
    The name of his own account, Burning Down My Master’s House, seems to describe what is happening in DC.

  • This is what’s so weird about the right wing rhetoric. A head of government tries to convince the Olympic committee that a city in his country should get the olympics — not a rare thing to happen. The committee decides otherwise, which also happens alot. And suddenly he’s being smeared as somehow having a psychological defect? I mean, that’s so obviously over the top that it can’t be taken seriously. There is a political history of groups saying that their opponents have “psychological disorders” that need to be treated. That history is not pretty. Obama’s statements about this and other things have not been out of the ordinary, certainly nothing to imply a psychological disorder. This is your fantasy, your imagination about the man because he is active and confident. Suddenly you feel a need to say he’s got a psychological flaw. That’s the kind of over the top rhetoric that’s coming back to bite the GOP in the arse. Remember the way you mocked the far left and their “BDS?” You are behaving exactly the same way — and you don’t even seem to recognize the irony.

    • Yeah .. all those right wingers at SNL did the same thing.

    • I don’t think that it was that he went there to make the pitch that has people branding him a narcissist, as much as the content of his speech. Like many of his other speeches, there are repeated references and allusions to himself and his impact on America, on politics, on the world.

      I don’t think it’s a surprise that he would be a narcissist; achieving high office may require a level of self-confidence and conceit that he shares with a lot of former US Presidents. Nor do I think that his narcissism is to blame for any of his ‘losses’ or ‘failures.’ Those are due to the same forces that they typically are– people reject bad ideas.

      I just think that more and more, people are recognizing his narcissism because it’s so pronounced, and because he projects it so clearly to everyone. Bill Clinton was probably a bigger narcissist (Hillary too, for that matter). He was just a bit more circumspect (and that’s obviously a relative term!).

      • Clinton was definitely a narcissist (I suspect all Presidential candidates, successful or otherwise, are to some degree), but he at least had the experience and the competence to mostly back it up. He was also smarter and either had much better advisers or was more willing to listen to them. Obama’s just a walking, talking ego wrapped around a big, empty hole.

      • To be sure, I doubt he writes his own speeches. I would be more impressed if there was some kind of comparison to other Presidents. I mean to go from “he says things about himself” in his speech to charges of psychological disorders is a leap.

        The irony of complaining about the attacks by the left on Bush, which were often just as over the top, I agree, while doing the same to Obama is obvious. I mean, do people really want to be the mirror image of the most loony voices on the left?

        I agree that any figure for high public office probably has certain psychological traits, but clinical narcissism is very different than just being egotistic!

    • “A head of government tries to convince the Olympic committee that a city in his country should get the olympics — not a rare thing to happen.”

      Why, it happens all the time. Now. Erb, tell all the folks here the last time a US President tried to convince the Olympic Committee to slect an American city.

      We’ll wait.

      • US Presidents seem to do the best to boycott games (like Jimmy Carter), but heads of state do try to convince the IOC. Tony Blair spent 3 days and nights with the IOC in order to get the 2012 games. Some would argue that it showed he was serious.
        But parachuting in, tying up the whole town (with security), doing a quick “Jazz Square” and musical number, then jetting out is just … bad.
        I bet some of the IOC members were reminded of the TSA and ICE hassles that Chicago Olympics goers would have to endure.

    • Your fantasy is that we JUST now started pointing out his narcissism.
      Try and keep up will ya? This isn’t some recent fantasy that was brought on by a failed Olympic bid.

      His narcissism was fairly plain during the debates, he huffed, he sighed, he desperately wanted to interrupt, and DID a couple of times. He can’t contain himself because, well, there’s so MUCH of him to contain in his opinion.

      Since then it’s been “me me me”, “I I I” in his speeches and TV appearances. He loves seeing himself on TV, if he didn’t have a crisis to peddle, he’d find some other reason to come on and talk to us.
      You think it’s JUST us? Explain the Euro’s commenting on it, they’ve done so too.

      • Neo-neocon has had some good posts on Obama’s narcissism. She has some professional expertise in the area, and besides that she has an interesting blog that focuses on people who change their political outlook. As she did.

        It is interesting that most change is from left to right.

    • So now The New Republic is part of the right wing. Erb, you are a tool.

  • and you don’t even seem to recognize the irony
    What you me “you .. white man ?

    • Nice link Neo. It’s funny to see the juxtaposition of the dialogue and the imagery.

  • It seems that Obama does indeed think like Erb. Point to Erb.