I’ve heard from various people that, once the midterm elections are over, with the only real questions being (1) whether the Republicans also take the Senate and (2) by how much they take the House, Obama will change his tune. After all, Bill Clinton did, and he emerged from the debacle strong enough to retake the White House in 1996.
I am absolutely certain that Obama will not change his tune. If there was a betting office for these things, I’d actually put money on my certainty. (That tells you how certain I am, ’cause I never gamble.)
My conviction about Obama’s rigidity is rooted in the nature of Obama’s narcissism. Clinton was also a narcissist, but of a very different stripe.
Here’s the deal: narcissists are people who have black holes where their egos should be. Whether because of nature or nurture, they do not have a healthy self-identity. They are able to create a self-identity only by reference to those around them.
There are two pathways for a narcissist to choose. The first is the Clinton pathway, which is to work hard to make everyone like you. If you do that, you are constantly proving to yourself what a great guy you are, because everyone likes you. This is why Clinton, despite his many, many, many personal issues is such a charming, likable human being. (It also explains his obsessive womanizing, because each woman who falls in his arms helps reaffirm his sense of his own attraction.) When this person is faced with a wall of dislike, such as the 1994 mid-term elections, he will immediately switch tactics so that he can feel the love again.
The second narcissistic pathway is to elevate yourself by denigrating others. This is entirely distinct from the “I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and gosh darn it, people like me,” approach, which is aimed at building oneself up. (And yes, I know that Al Franken is also a malignant narcissist, but it’s still a great line.) This second type of narcissist doesn’t praise himself, he demeans others. It goes along these lines: “I know I must be handsome, because he’s ugly. I know I must be smart, because he’s stupid. I know I must be competent, because he’s incompetent.” This second narcissist also tries to surround himself with people who will reflect well on him. “People will know I’m successful because my wife is beautiful. People will know I’m smart because I hang out with college professors.”
This tactic, by which the narcissist tries to use the presence of superior people, and an obsessive focus on their real or imagined shortcomings, the yardstick for measuring happiness never works. As the old saying goes, “wherever you go, there you are.” Because the narcissist has a gaping hole where a healthy ego is, no matter how he surrounds himself with successful, attractive people, all the while being sure to denigrate him so that he retains some personal altitude, he’s always unhappy. And all he knows how to do is more of the same: He surrounds himself by smarter, more beautiful people, whom he must demean so that he can bob along above them.
That’s Obama. That’s Mrs. Obama too, which is why these two, having reached the pinnacle of world success, look so miserable.
Assuming I’m correct about Obama’s borderline personality disorder, it’s fairly easy to predict that, after the devastation of the coming elections, he will double down on his policies, rather than accommodating the new, very powerful opposition. He cannot acknowledge that change is necessary, because the fault isn’t his; it’s everyone else’s.
I warned in 2007 about the danger of electing a malignant narcissist of Obama’s cut to the highest office in the world. When it comes to the ordinary “us versus them” of politics, Obama transcends even “progressive v. conservative,” and transforms it into “me v. everyone else.”
John Yoo, at the GroupaPalooza I attended, mentioned that Obama has his constitutional duties bass ackwards. In the past 20 months, with his own party in charge, and with his manifest dislike for America, he’s been too strong at home, where he is supposed to act as a brake on Congress, and too weak abroad, where he should be a powerful commander in chief. Beginning in 2011, I predict that Obama will suddenly see the light regarding his constitutional responsibilities at home. Faced with a Republican Congress, rather than sensibly bending to the people’s will, he will use the veto like a cudgel, blocking conservative initiatives at every turn.
Obama’s probable intransigence means that the damage already in place won’t be stopped. The best that can be done is to prevent further damage. The good news, though, is that he won’t be setting himself up for a 2012 victory, leaving the field open for both Hillary (who will savage him in the primaries) and for a viable (do we have one?) conservative candidate.
UPDATE: Sultan Knish has some fascinating insights from the crystal ball too. (h/t Sadie)
UPDATE II: Peter Wehner, dissecting Obama’s Rolling Stone interview, makes my point perfectly. BTW, it’s fascinating that, despite the fact that Yawn Whiner was practically slobbering on Obama’s feet during the interview, Obama still managed to come off as a nasty, embittered, self-serving man.
UPDATE III: Aside from the savagery of Jon Stewart’s attack on Obama, the clips he has of Obama’s unbelievable partisan speech, something more appropriate for a campaigner than the leader of a whole nation, you also see the viciousness of a narcissist scorned:
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