Archive for July 4, 2011

Careerist narcissists: The new political elite – By George J. Marlin

July 4, 2011

The following appears in the July 1-7, 2011 issue of the Long Island Business News:

For most of our nation’s history, public officials governed part time and then returned to their day jobs outside of politics. In towns, villages and neighborhoods, storefront entrepreneurs served as mayors, legislators or on boards because they believed it was their civic responsibility to do so.

Local residents, working hard to raise families and to make ends meet, and without the time to stay on top of community issues, were grateful they had neighbors willing to take on these low-paying or volunteer positions and act for the common good.

In the early 1970s, however, there appeared a new careerist political class whose members pushed out part-timers from the public arena. Seeking and holding public office meant everything to them. Their career, livelihood and self-identity depended on it.

These “me generation” narcissists craving political power believe they are the only ones fit to govern, not because they are lovers of the downtrodden or have experience, but because they are measurably smarter than the public at large and that society will benefit from their counsel.

They also possess grandiose views of their talents, excessive interests in themselves, a craving for attention and admiration, and a consciousness of superiority. This type of narcissist, according to the noted social philosopher Christopher Lasch, “depends on others to validate his self-esteem. He cannot live without an admiring audience.

“For the narcissist, the world is a mirror, whereas the rugged individual saw it as an empty wilderness to be shaped to his own design.”

Success for these narcissists “consists of nothing more substantial than a wish to be vastly admired, not for one’s accomplishments, but simply for oneself, uncritically and without reservation.”

The poster boy for this new class of political narcissism is recently deminted Congressman Anthony Weiner – although there are numerous other examples in New York.

Weiner, for example, has never had a real job in the private sector. Straight out of SUNY Plattsburgh, he went to work as an aide to then-U.S. Rep. Charles Schumer. In 1991, at age 27, he was elected to the New York City Council and in 1998 was elected to Congress.

Weiner is a political narcissist who has excelled at self-promotion, campaigning, fundraising and self-exaltation. “Please understand I am a very important man,” he lectured an Internet groupie. All that mattered was his political ambitions and sexual prowess, not sound judgment, duty or character.

Shameless, he was willing to do whatever it took to cling to his office. His handling of Tweetergate proves it: When lying didn’t work, he tried public flagellation, and when that failed, he declared himself a victim, an expectant father and then checked into a treatment center. He held out as long as he could because he has had no existence apart from his role in public life. Weiner will never adjust to civilian life. He will be a lost soul forever living off of past glories and attempting political comebacks.

Weiner and fellow political narcissists – New York Power Authority chief executive Richie Kessel springs to mind – have in common an inflated sense of themselves. For them the world is an extension of their wills and emotions. Because they are the anointed ones, the people should be submissive to their exercise of power. Any who challenge their vision are unworthy, insensitive, evil and intellectually and morally bankrupt.

Since they venerate only their egos, they are willing to disregard law and shame in pursuit of accolades and power.

Catholics and America’s Founding – By George J. Marlin

July 4, 2011

This article I wrote appeared on The Catholic Thing web site on July 3, 2011.