BO: I love me, I love me not...
By Mark Alexander
There's an old adage about advanced academic degrees: "The more you learn, the more you discover you don't know." Thus, you can learn so much that you know almost nothing -- until you've learned your way to idiocy! This, unfortunately, is all too obvious among the many professional pontificators on college and university campuses.
Over the course of three decades, I earned a few advanced degrees, but that academic knowledge is tempered by the reality checks that come with real world experience -- though the idiocy factor can creep in with complacency.
My first graduate degree was in psychology and the last was in public affairs. (Yes, after the Clinton years "public affairs" acquired a whole new connotation.) While the public policy studies have most directly informed my career, the psych degree was useful, too. Regardless of one's profession, some understanding and insight into human behavior is often useful.
In Mario Puzo's 1969 novel, The Godfather, mobster Michael Corleone recalled this advice from his father, Don Vito Corleone: "Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer." That's a paraphrase from the most influential military philosopher in history, Sun Tzu Changqing, the Chinese general credited with authoring The Art of War (c. 400 BC). Indeed, Sun's chapter on "Intelligence and Espionage" advises that the best way to defeat your enemy is to know him well.
To know one's adversary, don't start with his actions. Instead, start with the underlying motivation for his actions. That insight will help predict future actions, and thus shape useful countermeasures. This is true in any contest, whether in military combat or in the marketplace of ideas.
Over the last six years, the battle for American ideas -- for those principles that will define our nation's future -- has been characterized by more political discord than any other period in at least 50 years. Some would argue 150 years.
That contest is framed by conservatives on the Right, who endeavor to contain, if not repel, Barack Hussein Obama's frontal assault on Liberty. A resurgence of Grassroots conservatives in 2010 gave Republicans control of the House, but that did little to stop Obama. In 2014, Republicans kept their stranglehold on the House while decimating Democrats in the Senate and, notably, in gubernatorial and statehouse elections across the nation. This was a deep win for Republicans and particularly conservatives.
But despite those gains, Obama, an ideological Socialist, and his leftist cadres across the nation, have managed to regain full control of the political battlefield. In fact, it would seem they never broke stride.
One significant reason old guard Republican "leaders" have been so ineffective against Obama is because they lack the political spine of up-and-coming conservatives elected in recent years.
In addition to a dearth of backbone, they also lack an understanding of Obama's motives -- which is to say his underlying personality disorder.
Barack Obama is a textbook case study in Narcissistic Personality Disorder, as outlined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders -- the standard reference used for psychiatric evaluation. (Somebody get Dr. Charles Krauthammer on the line.)
By definition, narcissists are deeply insecure and, consequently, have an unrelenting need to be admired by others. Their low self-esteem is often imprinted from early childhood, and for many it is associated with ineffective fathering or, worse, parental abandonment. Narcissists have a grandiose sense of self and of entitlement, and they have an excessive dependence upon others for self-definition and self-esteem regulation. Though they may project an image of great confidence, it is nothing more than a facade. The most malignant form of narcissism is accompanied by intelligence and charisma, which enables the deception of others in order to secure positions of power and influence.
The diagnostic criteria for NPD includes a "pervasive pattern of grandiosity (in fantasy or behavior), need for admiration, and lack of empathy, beginning by early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts," which manifests as "a grandiose sense of self-importance; ... a preoccupation with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love; and a belief that he or she is 'special' and unique and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people (or institutions)," and the subject "lacks empathy: is unwilling to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others ... shows arrogant, haughty behaviors or attitudes."
Does this sound like anyone you know? Perhaps a certain "community organizer" who convinced a mindless majority of voters to crown him king?
Most associate narcissism with "self-love," but the root of narcissism is self-loathing. Obama's reckless unwillingness to seek common ground and common good with others is not due to his hatred of Republicans, but his hatred of himself.
To understand just how much he hates himself, look no further than his faux White House bio, which has not been altered since 2009. Obama recreated his life narrative: "[My] story is the American story -- values from the heartland, a middle-class upbringing in a strong family, hard work and education as the means of getting ahead, and the conviction that a life so blessed should be lived in service to others."
"The American story"? "Values from the heartland"?
Not unless such values are the natural byproduct of a terribly fractured family model, vitriolic religious discipleship and lifelong mentoring by overt Marxists. These factors combined to create the perfect dysfunctional personality storm.
"Middle-class upbringing in a strong family"?
Obama's family -- if it can be called that -- is in fact a model for arrested emotional development rooted in his abandonment, first by his Muslim Kenyan father, then by his atheist mother who moved to Indonesia with her second Muslim husband and later shipped young Barack back to his grandparents in Hawaii.
"A life so blessed should be lived in service to others"?
Only if by "service to others" he means a life defined by "service to self."
Our nation was founded and has been sustained by Patriots who devoted their "lives, fortunes and sacred honor" in service to others. Obama is not one of them.
I should add that Barack Obama did not bring upon himself or deserve his tragic childhood -- and, to that extent, the distressed and terrified child he conceals behind his narcissistic facade deserves our compassion.
However, in the current political context, it's important to understand Obama's pathology. His personality disorder fits the typology of every political tyrant in modern history, and, if John Boehner and Mitch McConnell want to gain control of the political debate before Obama leaves office, then they best seek to understand what motivates him before trying to outmaneuver him.
Obama's narcissistic facade is dependent on a capacity for unlimited hubris and a highly developed penchant for deception, both of which are trademarks of this pathology.
His limitless arrogance is always in full bloom and was notably on display in his last "I'm Just Awesome!" State of the Union address. As for living the BIG Lie, consider that Obama preaches to the masses about "equality" and "economic justice," while he and Michelle LaVaughn lead lavish lives of the rich and famous, all at taxpayer expense, including hundreds of millions of dollars spent on endless exotic vacations.
Tragically, the net result of Obama's self-hatred is that he appeals to the worst in people, the darkest human traits -- and with dire social and political consequences.
By comparison, the most successful presidents of both parties have consistently appealed to the best in the American people.
Indeed, Ronald Reagan perfected the inspirational model of appealing to all that is good and right in his fellow Americans.
In his 1989 farewell speech, President Reagan noted, "I won a nickname, 'The Great Communicator.' But I never thought it was my style or the words I used that made a difference: it was the content. I wasn't a great communicator, but I communicated great things, and they didn't spring full bloom from my brow, they came from the heart of a great nation -- from our experience, our wisdom, and our belief in the principles that have guided us for two centuries."
Reagan's words -- in stark contrast to Obama's "I won," "you didn't build that," "they cling to guns or religion," "we're gonna punish our enemies" -- reflect the substance of servant leadership, humility and a belief in appealing to the best in people rather than the worst.
It is why President Reagan won the admiration of even his archrivals, domestic and foreign, including outspoken liberal House Speaker Thomas "Tip" O'Neill and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev.
His final words at the 1992 Republican convention reflect that appeal: "And whatever else history may say about me when I'm gone, I hope it will record that I appealed to your best hopes, not your worst fears, to your confidence rather than your doubts. My dream is that you will travel the road ahead with liberty's lamp guiding your steps and opportunity's arm steadying your way. My fondest hope for each one of you -- and especially for young people -- is that you will love your country, not for her power or wealth, but for her selflessness and her idealism. May each of you have the heart to conceive, the understanding to direct, and the hand to execute works that will make the world a little better for your having been here. May all of you as Americans never forget your heroic origins, never fail to seek divine guidance, and never lose your natural, God-given optimism. And finally, my fellow Americans, may every dawn be a great new beginning for America and every evening bring us closer to that shining city upon a hill."
Until such a leader emerges again, Republicans have no hope of defining the political debate without divining Obama's underlying motives. In the meantime, we should keep in front of us this warning about narcissistic charlatans from Alexander Hamilton in Federalist No. 1: "Of those men who have overturned the liberties of republics, the greatest number have begun their career by paying an obsequious court to the people, commencing demagogues and ending tyrants."
Mark Alexander is the executive editor of the Patriot Post.