Narcissism on Parade

01“When regard for truth has been broken down or even slightly weakened all things will remain doubtful.”  St. Augustine

Politicians as a general rule view lies as legitimate political tools, lies that strategically accomplish through mendacity what they could never achieve through honest means.

As Mark Twaine once wrote  “the glory that is built upon a lie soon becomes a most unpleasant incumbrance.  How easy it is to make people believe a lie and how hard it is to undo that work again.”  But Mark Twaine had never met Obama, or other left-wing politicians, the “I didn’t know, never heard of that, it wasn’t my fault,  the end justifies the means” and never let a crisis go to waste” crowd.

It is a sad fact but today most people aren’t concerned when politicians lie to them, especially if the lie doesn’t impact their lives.  Who cares, right?  If their lips are moving, they’re lying!   All politicians are liars by nature.  What they can’t seem to understand is that lies do affect their life and the life of their children and their future grandchildren, especially when those lies are used to destroy our country or as Obama promised, to fundamentally change our way of life.

To be a compulsive liar takes skill and for the people who have mastered this skill they can easily do it  convincingly, without remorse.  Getting a compulsive liar to admit he lied is almost impossible even when confronted with cold hard facts.  Compulsive lying disorder is not actually a documented psychiatric disorder, it’s  a term used to describe what may be a symptom of another psychiatric disorder such as borderline personality disorder, narcissism or bipolar disorder.

Leon F. Seltzer, Ph.D., in Psychology Today, writes that narcissists desire money, lots of it, and power, the more the better.  Since a large majority of  individuals entering the political arena have already made or inherited their fortune,  what typically drives them is the lust for power, prestige, status, and authority to gratify their need for self-aggrandizement by feeding their oversized ego.  Political office provides them with compelling evidence to confirm their sense of superiority to others—probably their most coveted need of all.

Despite the steadfast ethical values they profess, these politicians can be viewed as “moral relativists” in that what they adamantly deem immoral for others is yet somehow acceptable for themselves. Whether we characterize the personal “allowances” they make as  constituting a double standard or outright hypocrisy, these privileged concessions to self clearly broadcast their overblown sense of entitlement. Which is precisely what enables them to regard themselves as sufficiently exceptional to exclude themselves from the rules and standards they impose on others. 

Once entering public office, the whole nation has become one huge “narcissistic supply” for them, pumping up their self-esteem to levels that further confirm their bloated sense of self.   Moreover, once ensconced in office they may well feel accountable to no one but themselves—free to play their competitive power games with impunity (and frankly, the public be damned.)

While they may delude themselves that their country sorely requires their unique talents and skills, they experience little motivation to serve the peasants.  They’ve won their position primarily to serve themselves—and they can do so almost obsessively.  The saying “Promises are made to be broken” rings particularly true for them.  It’s become almost a joke that the devout pledges they make on the campaign trail bear only trifling resemblance to what they do once in office.  The ability to convince voters that they’ll best represent their interests is what defines their success.

Notorious for being empathy-challenged,  narcissist-politicians are frequently tone deaf as regards how some of their private, “entitled” actions can affect public opinion. Compartmentalizing their lives, they suffer from a peculiar moral myopia and lack of imagination.  In this sense, their exaggerated sense of privilege frequently undermines their better judgment.

Lying on Capitol Hill abounds, and it can be executed with relative impunity since politician claims, however improbable, go largely unmonitored.  Besides, no one equivocates or dis-informs with greater conviction than the narcissist-politician, whose blatant disregard for facts can at times be mind-boggling.

Eventually coming to believe their own falsehoods, they’re fiercely defensive, and even attacking, when their illogical, inconsistent, or even contradictory, positions are questioned.  Expert at lying to themselves, as well as to others, their inability to experience much guilt when they’re found out is easy enough to comprehend. And tied to this distorted sense of entitlement (or “personal exceptionalism”), they can’t really feel genuine sorrow for what they’ve done to betray the public trust.

But most tragically, as they “successfully” rise to prominence and power, the whole diseased condition of their lives infects us as well. For in devoting their lives almost exclusively to selfish, ill-conceived goals, the needs of the larger community surrounding them either get ignored or abandoned. Inevitably, we all suffer from the fraud that so thoroughly envelops them.

“Political language is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.”  George Orwell


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