Saturday, November 13, 2010

ARMCHAIR PSYCHOLOGIST, HEAL THYSELF. As we have seen, a rightwing cottage industry has emerged in damning psychological profiles of Barack Obama. Many of its analysts are or claim to be psych professional, but at this level qualifications are not a requirement. Now Jonathan V. Last is here to tell us the President, unlike Presidents before him, is a narcissist.
It’s revealed in lots of little stories. There was the time he bragged about how one of his campaign volunteers, who had tragically died of breast cancer, “insisted she’s going to be buried in an Obama T-shirt.” There was the Nobel acceptance speech where he conceded, “I do not bring with me today a definitive solution to the problems of war” (the emphasis is mine). There was the moment during the 2008 campaign when Obama appeared with a seal that was a mash-up of the Great Seal of the United States and his own campaign logo (with its motto Vero Possumus, “Yes we Can” in Latin). Just a few weeks ago, Obama was giving a speech when the actual presidential seal fell from the rostrum. “That’s all right,” he quipped. “All of you know who I am.” Oh yes, Mr. President, we certainly do.
Despite Last's helpful italics and characterizations, these incidents make neither a definitive case nor a feature-length article, so Last piles on more. As an author Obama once changed the direction of a book he was writing, and thus Simon and Schuster "got burned for a few thousand bucks." When his fame rose he changed his agent, much like that other monster of ambition, Bruce Springsteen. Also he left his job at the University of Chicago sooner than they would have liked.

Worst of all, Last tells us at length, he was deluded enough to think he could be elected President of the United States.

"Yet you don’t have to delve deep into armchair psychology to see how Obama’s vanity has shaped his presidency," says Last, before further wearying the cushions of his own psychology armchair. Obama has bragged on his abilities and used his reputation to political advantage. He used Lincoln's bible at his Inauguration and Lincoln's china at the luncheon. His palaver about the end of the Cold War does not match that of Jonathan V. Last. He doesn't delegate much.

Were Obama a captain of industry rather than a Democratic President, I suspect this would all be presented as evidence of his Randian dynamism, and the article would be a cover feature for Forbes rather than another chunk of boob-bait in the Weekly Standard. But, to indulge in a little armchair psychology of my own, we've reached a stage in the group psychology of the Right where even accepting the Nobel Prize (with becoming modesty, though excerpted here to give a contrary impression) is offered as proof of Obama's unfitness. They have some nerve calling anyone else nuts.

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