Monday, February 15, 2010
NPD...and Sarah Palin
February 15, 2010
First thing this morning, Abby walked into my office and put a clipping on the light-table next to me, saying, “He thinks like you do.” Well, that could go either way, depending on to whom she was referring. So, with some trepidation, I picked it up and read it. This time I feel redeemed. Leonard Pitts is a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist for the Miami Herald. He is often acutely insightful and uses words with the skill of a Olympic fencer wielding an épee. In this case, his subject is Sarah Palin and here is the link to the full piece:
If you have your doubts as to whether the previously mentioned ‘idiocracy’ is in full flower, please make the effort to read this. Heretofore, all the proof I need to rely on will be summed-up in two words: Sarah Palin. Ever since she bounced out of obscurity onto the national stage, I have been alternately amazed, amused, and outraged, even infuriated. Her methods of attacking her opponents are so repugnant, her tone so sarcastic and condescending that I can barely stand the sight of her. She not only reveals the vapid nature of her miniscule intellect every time she opens her mouth, but she practices hypocrisy on a monstrous level…the most unforgiveable transgression of all. And, she does it all in a state of complete oblivion, apparently. She seems to think that being a hypocrite, a liar and just plain ignorant is all just fine. What matters is that, …people love me and my message. And, infectious as it is to some people, she has every reason to believe we are entering a new age of populist politics in which Truth is irrelevant, intellect is over-rated, and acting in an honorable and respectful fashion is out-dated.
I was doing some research and found the following excerpt from a psychological evaluation: “His primary rules were: never allow the public to cool off; never admit a fault or wrong; never concede that there may be some good in your enemy; never leave room for alternatives; never accept blame; concentrate on one enemy at a time and blame him for everything that goes wrong; people will believe a big lie sooner than a little one; and if you repeat it frequently enough people will sooner or later believe it.”
I was researching a concept known as ‘the Big Lie’. It seems to have a peculiar resonance with what is going on in the far right in this country. People like Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, and Bill O’Reilly are now making up the ‘truth’ as if it were a relative concept instead of something based on actual facts. The “Truth” as they see it, is what they declare it to be. Palin is given to doing this also. For instance, when she says she didn’t quit the governor’s office. She vacated the position for the good of the state and the country. Right. It so happens that the above quote is referring to none other than Adolf Hitler, and is from an OSS report that was published internally during WWII. Ironically—and disturbingly—it could easily be applied to all the aforementioned pundits, INCLUDING PALIN.
I also have been looking at information on something referred to in the mental health profession as NPD, Narcissistic Personality Disorder. As I look down the following list of symptoms and traits, it also seems to be alarmingly applicable to this short-list of pundits…right down to the last one.
• Has a grandiose sense of self-importance (e.g., exaggerates achievements and talents, expects to be recognized as superior without commensurate achievements)
• Is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love
• Believes 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)
• Requires excessive admiration
• Has a sense of entitlement, i.e., unreasonable expectations of especially favorable treatment or automatic compliance with his or her expectations
• Is interpersonally exploitative, i.e., takes advantage of others to achieve his or her own ends
• Lacks empathy: is unwilling to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others
• Is often envious of others or believes that others are envious of him or her
• Shows arrogant, haughty behaviors or attitudes.
Hitler was obviously a deeply deviant sociopath, but he also evinced all these symptoms, and he practiced—indeed perfected--The Big Lie…just like the entire Fox News political punditry staff does. They are often making up the truth out of whole cloth and putting it on the air as being ‘true’ somehow, just because they say it is. This is true of the Birthers, the Truthers, and the Tea Partyites. All of them feel absolutely free to make-up ‘facts’ and claim their skewed version of reality is THE TRUTH. There is a complete disconnect from the idea that anything referred to as being true needs to be based on actual facts. When a birther is confronted by the fact that Obama was born in Hawaii—simply TRUE, folks—their reaction is: “Well, that’s your opinion,” as if it were something unable to be grounded in the actual fact of his birth. It goes waaay beyond just being stupidity at work, and well into a form of delusion, in which the truth becomes just what you WANT it to be.
Sarah Palin wins my nomination for the position of POSTER-CHILD for the IDIOCRACY, largely because of her stance that being intelligent, having a decent education, and relying on sound judgment more than knee-jerk emotions….are all irrelevant, out of synch with ‘the people’. If we want to put another idiot in the White House, having barely survived eight years of the last one, here she is, and it will tell the entire world that we apparently learned nothing from the past.
For the present, I am going to hold onto hope—with a palpable sense of dread, however—that we will not go down that path. But, as Leonard Pitts opines, if we do, at least we will have a clear sense of the direction we are headed as a nation. And, if we choose the path that has been paved by Beck, O’Reilly, Limbaugh….and Sarah Palin….we will most certainly reap what we have sown, and I would NOT be willing even to ask God for help, when we are so clearly unwilling to help ourselves.