On the Narcissism of Presidents: Trump v. Obama

Last week CO posted a piece I wrote about how the left has been responding to Trump. When I pointed out Obama’s narcissism, several lefty posters somehow took that to mean that I didn’t think Trump is narcissistic. They argued the point vigorously, and one poor soul took the time to look up and source a dozen egotistical Trump quotes, to prove the point. Although some of their posts were troll-y (trollish? troll-esque?), they did make me think more about that topic:

1.Some degree of narcissism is inherent in running for president. Not many people ever look in the mirror and think, “You know what I’d probably be a good leader of? The entire free world!” By definition, all of our presidents have had that moment in their lives, and that strikes me as very weird, and more than a little off-putting. On the other hand, if I had to choose one type of narcissism over another, I’d rather see Trump’s cartoonish, often juvenile style – slapping his name on everything in sight, going on about how terrific each of his actions is going to be – than Obama’s style of deadly serious pomposity that led him to think that he could do anything he deigned to put his hand to, including replacing our health care system and our immigration laws, and taking it upon himself to “fundamentally transform” our society.

2.Just to be clear, I know that Trump is a narcissist. CO knows that Trump is a narcissist. Single-celled organisms living in the lightless depths of the Marianas Trench know that Trump is a narcissist. The point is that Obama is also a colossal narcissist, and somehow the left and the MSM (but I repeat myself) failed to notice that for the last 8 years, only seeming to begin objecting to narcissism on 1/20/17.
If any lefties would dispute the point, let me throw out a little evidence off the top of my head:

  • Obama wrote 2 autobiographies by the time he was 45, at which time the sum total of his accomplishments was a law degree, a nebulous community organizing gig, and 20 minutes spent in the IL state senate and then the US senate.
  • He suggested a causal link between his election and the slowing of the oceans’ rise and the healing of the planet. (Insert your own King Canute joke here.) (Then give yourself an extra point for getting the tricky-to-pull-off relevant King Canute reference.)
  • His favorite words in almost all of his speeches were “I” and “me.”
  • He had fake Greek columns built in the Denver football stadium for him to stand in front of as he gave a speech. (To his credit, he did not wear a toga with a laurel wreath, though both were implied.)
  • At a state meeting with the Queen of England, instead of the traditionally thoughtful gifts that are exchanged on such occasions, he gave her an ipod loaded with HIS OWN SPEECHES!

And how about that Nobel Peace Prize? Nominations for the award in 2009 closed 11 days after Obama was inaugurated, which means that some unbalanced European sycophants thought that Obama had done something worthy of that award during his first 11 days.

For comparison, a fast food manager or rental car employee is on probation for at least 30 days, and they’ve likely had to deal with at least one drunk vomiting in the salad bar or returning a massively damaged Ford Focus by day 11. And yet, to date, no probationary Shoney’s managers or Avis employees have ever won even a single Nobel Peace prize! Not one! (I looked it up, so feel free to fact check yourself.)

By the way, here’s the text of the letter that an even marginally self-aware non-narcissist would have written if a bunch of fawning Scandanavian dopes tried to give him a manifestly unwarranted Nobel prize for work done in his first 11 days in office:

“Dear Sven and Hrothgar et al,

You have got to be shi**ing me. I know you hated the Bushie, and you and I are sympatico on the whole ‘America is not exceptional’ thing. But you’ve got to give me a chance to do something first. What kind of colossal douche would I look like if I accepted this award now?! You’re making us all look bad.

Now go find some double amputee who has spent the last 10 years defusing landmines in a battle zone or something, and give him the award, you freaking tundra monkeys.

Sincerely,

Psychologically Well-Balanced New President.”

To his credit, Obama did give a pretty humble acceptance speech, but how do you accept that award at all, after 11 days?!

Finally, I’m sure you remember that during the campaign, Trump said that he knows more about ISIS than the generals do. We all agree that that is an absurdly self-important quote, right?

I give you His Eminence, Barack Hussein O, who said in the fall of 2008 (that is, before he had won the White House, and began the 11 Days that Shook the World): “I think that I’m a better speechwriter than my speechwriters…. I know more about policies on any particular issue than my policy directors. And I’ll tell you right now that I’m going to think I’m a better political director than my political director.”

3. I would argue that leftist ideology tends to exacerbate and weaponize the narcissism that all presidents are prey to. Small government, free market conservatism teaches humility, stressing that no bureaucrat in Washington knows as much about any area of the economy or society as those who specialize in those areas. (Hence, “That government is best which governs least.”) Yes, I know, very few pols live up to that ideal, we are all flawed and etc. But at least a conservative pol who begins to over-reach has an ideology that will serve as a check, if s/he’ll try to be true to it. (I’ll grant you that Trump has not so far been… how should I say this? … particularly dissuaded by that check.)

Not so, leftism. An ideology that sees a huge role for a centralized, omnivorous governmental bureaucracy cannot help but tempt already egotistical pols into ever greater power grabs.

You say you don’t know a redwood from a crape myrtle? Doesn’t matter. You’re in the Interior Department, so you are WAY more qualified to set logging policies than those idiot families of little people who have only been in the logging business for 3 generations.

You’ve never had a job in the private sector? By all means, set fiscal policy for 330 million people.

You’ve never been a security guard, or touched a real gun, or done anything more than watching a couple of seasons of NYPD Blue? Please tell our nation’s police forces exactly how they should be doing their job.

You wouldn’t know a pancreas from a uvula? (which sounds like something dirty, but disappointingly, is not) Feel free to take over 1/6 of the US economy, and give doctors and nurses a helpful little 9600-page, rule-filled tome dictating how health care should work, down to the last mammogram and tongue depressor.

Look, I’m concerned about Trump’s ego, too, and I hope that the responsibilities of his office will temper that. On the other hand, if all he does is appoint Gorsuch, replace Obamacare with something workable, find a way to discourage illegal immigration, and cut taxes and regulations, I’ll gladly overlook 4 years of his yammering about the size of his crowds and how amazing his next deeds are going to be.

And if you just spent 8 years raising no objections while King Hussein Canute and his merry band of Lerners and Grubers ran roughshod over our laws and checks and balances, we hope you will forgive us for not losing any sleep over your objections now.

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