November 2nd, 2012

Peggy Noonan needs to read an article on narcissism

Then maybe she will figure out the answer to what’s puzzling her so about Obama:

Why did the president make such mistakes? Why did he make decisions that seemed so unknowing, and not only in retrospect?

Because he had so much confidence, he thought whatever he did would work. He thought he had “a gift,” as he is said to have told Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. He thought he had a special ability to sway the American people, or so he suggested to House Speaker John Boehner and Majority Leader Eric Cantor.

But whenever he went over the the heads of the media and Congress and went to the people, in prime-time addresses, it didn’t really work. He did not have a magical ability to sway. And—oddly—he didn’t seem to notice.

It is one thing to think you’re Lebron. Its another thing to keep missing the basket and losing games and still think you’re Lebron.

And that really was the problem: He had the confidence without the full capability. And he gathered around him friends and associates who adored him, who were themselves talented but maybe not quite big enough for the game they were in. They understood the Democratic Party, its facts and assumptions. But they weren’t America-sized. They didn’t get the country so well.

It is a mystery why the president didn’t second-guess himself more, doubt himself. Instead he kept going forward as if it were working.

No, Peggy. It’s no mystery at all.

[NOTE: In the Wiki article about narcissism, here are some ideas about the possible causes [emphasis mine]:

The cause of this disorder is unknown, according to Groopman and Cooper. However, they list the following factors identified by various researchers as possibilities:

An oversensitive temperament at birth
Excessive admiration that is never balanced with realistic feedback
Excessive praise for good behaviors or excessive criticism for bad behaviors in childhood
Overindulgence and overvaluation by parents, other family members, or peers
Being praised for perceived exceptional looks or abilities by adults
Severe emotional abuse in childhood
Unpredictable or unreliable caregiving from parents

Valued by parents as a means to regulate their own self-esteem

See also splitting [emphasis mine]:

People who are diagnosed with narcissistic personality disorder use splitting as a central defense mechanism. According to psychoanalyst Kernberg, “the normal tension between actual self on the one hand, and ideal self and ideal object on the other, is eliminated by the building up of an inflated self-concept within which the actual self and the ideal self and ideal object are confused. At the same time, the remnants of the unacceptable images are repressed and projected onto external objects, which are devalued.”

The merging of the “inflated self-concept” and the “actual self” is seen in the inherent grandiosity of narcissistic personality disorder. Also inherent in this process are the defense mechanisms of devaluation, idealization and denial. Other people are either manipulated as an extension of one’s own self, who serve the sole role of giving “admiration and approval” or they are seen as worthless (because they cannot collude with the narcissist’s grandiosity).]

73 Responses to “Peggy Noonan needs to read an article on narcissism”

  1. Wolla Dalbo Says:

    Just because you are a facile writer, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you also have the ability to perceive correctly, analyze things, and arrive at the obvious conclusions.

  2. S. Weasel Says:

    What an odd comment, Wolla (may I call you Wolla?). Either you find her comparisons persuasive or you don’t.

    In fact, that observation is so odd…I wonder if you’re a spam comment with the URL stripped out.

  3. cornflour Says:

    Maybe Wolla Dalbo’s comment referred to Peggy Noonan. Wolla, please clarify. Otherwise things could wander off astray.

  4. Mrs Whatsit Says:

    Wolla’s not exactly a stranger here and is clearly talking about Noonan, not Neo.

  5. S. Weasel Says:

    Oh! That didn’t occur to me, cornflour. That would make much more sense.

    A facile writer with poor analytical skills describes Noonan well.

    Never mind.

  6. Lizzy Says:

    Peggy Noonan: Please stop by Dr. Sanity’s blog and read her detailed posts on the definition of narcissism (, and then her post “Narcissism, Pathological Lying and Politics” (bonus: Neo is quoted).
    After that, quietly reflect on how it was that you were taken in by the illusion of Obama’s fitness for office in 2008 and why you are just now realizing his incompetence. The rest of us will carry one without your political insight.

  7. Dan Says:

    Wolla’s comment was indeed an odd comment. It was internally inconsistent. A facile writer would NOT have the ability to perceive correctly, analyze things and arrive at obvious conclusions.

    I agree with Neo’s post. The President’s speech always struck me as narcissistic. Too many “I”s and “me”s

  8. M of Hollywood Says:

    you didn’t bold the first on the list: An oversensitive temperament at birth. Being born into an unsettled mixture of races and into two people who had whacked out self concepts was a bed of oversensitivity.
    And then he “matures” in the oversensitive American public of 2003-2007, giving him a second bout of being born, or, rather, borne, into social oversensitivity.
    I knew it would be painful for the polity to see his fall, since his fall would be public. I almost felt compassion for him–for us– to see him hugged by Christie and out sporting his bomber jacket, for I know how deeply he needs love since he has an emptiness inside. When I heard him speak, it stopped. Even though abused by too much admiration, he is, technically speaking, an adult and is responsible for his actions, his speech.

    If the Press leans left, the public is better served by it when the administration leans right, for the the Press will be hungry for actual news and will be vigilant in its criticism. By contrast when the administration leans left, the Press will lean with them and not report failures, indeed like Peggy, not even see them, abdicating its job. When Bush was in the WH. the press, you could say, did its job of critique.

    If Romney wins next week – or is declared the winner sometime in December when the hanging chads rest, I plan to go on a media diet and return to real life. I plan to allow my trust in Romney to rise, my faith in America to protect, and (at least this is the plan) I will stop following the news like a cat follows a bug. Then, perhaps, unaware, I will grow unaware, as the followers of the oversensitive one are now. They may have gone through this process in 2008: he won, Bush and Cheney were gone, and they could go to sleep on their bed of trust. So maybe I’ll keep one eye open.

  9. Wolla Dalbo Says:

    Well, I did author the first comment above, and I am not just Internet SPAM, nor am i potted meat–and lousy meat at that. Moreover, I thought I had expressed my point with some precision.

    My point being that Noonan is good at writing, but not necessarily good at perception and analysis. But, that given her weak competition in the writing department, her lack of perception and analytical skills could be relatively unnoticed, and swamped by a focus on the high quality of her writing.

  10. George Pal Says:

    It occurs to me that narcissists may lack the ability to recognize a narcissist. Lacking the ability to perceive through external filters and left to depend on their own internal overly regarded filters may make, for a narcissist, spotting a narcissist impossible. That’s not to say Ms Noonan’s narcissism compares to the monolith that is Obama’s but still, they are both of a kind. Ms Noonan and others like her – David Brooks – saw in Obama a reflection of themselves and fell in love.

  11. NeoConScum Says:

    Dear Peggy: Blondie, you’re the LAST to know, apparently. Good Freakin’ Grief, the evidence of The Boy King’s absence of abilities has been there from(before)the beginning. Sheeesshhh…!

    That said, as low and realistic as my expectations were from his oath taking onward, I’ll admit to His Majesty’s FAR EXCEEDING even my cynicism/skepticism.

    Just one little ‘Tell’ of his personality disorder from the BEGINNING: Nope, not the gift of a dvd to Queen Elizabeth of his speeches…Nope, not the banishment of Winston’s bust back to the Brits…Nope, not the claim that the seas would f***ing recede & the earth would f***ing heal…The True Narcissist Idiocy Disorder’s Tell’ was: Replacing the dozens of American historical-patriotic paintings in the halls of the West Wing which George W. Bush had displayed there..Ready??.. Replacing them with photos of HIMSELF by-the-hundreds…Replaced each month by hundreds more of HIMSELF.

    Any questions, Pegster..??

  12. Mr. Frank Says:

    Aside from all the psychology Peggy missed, what about the record of non accomplishment of Obama for all to see. He was a law review editor who never published any reviews. He was a lawyer who never won a case. He was a college teacher who never did any research. He was a state senator who never passed any legislation. He was a community organizer who never organized anything. He was a senator with no record of legislation. Why did Peggy think the guy would be effective as the president? Because he was cool and she wanted to be one of the popular kids?

  13. texexec Says:

    Noonan and many others in the Northeast political network place too much emphasis on book larnin’ at Ivy League colleges and universities, and intelligence, and not enough emphasis on wisdom and perception.

    How in the world did she get a job with Reagan?

  14. kcom Says:

    I found this part of the Wiki entry very interesting:

    Yet, they have a fragile self-esteem and cannot handle criticism, and will often try to compensate for this inner fragility by belittling or disparaging others in an attempt to validate their own self-worth.

    Obama has spent his entire presidency belittling and disparaging others, from President Bush to the Supreme Court to Paul Ryan to the bitter clingers, and on an on. Four years later, he’s still blaming things on George Bush.

    Which reminds me of this pathetic ad he has running on TV (at least where I live). Have you seen it? Here’s the opening lines, as narrated by Morgan Freeman:

    Every president inherits challenges. Few have faced so many.

    Wah! Wah! Wah! What a little whiny baby! Does he really think past presidents have had a free ride compared to him? Seriously? That commercial seems entirely narcissistic to me. He should be embarrassed to be running it.

  15. Occam's Beard Says:

    Why did the president make such mistakes? Why did he make decisions that seemed so unknowing, and not only in retrospect?

    More to the point, why did you fail to perceive the failings of the man until they beat you over the head?

    To echo the estimable comments above, especially of NeoConScum and Mr. Frank, the signs were all there, published in the font the NYT used to use for declarations of war. Make the oceans recede? Seriously? Anyone who didn’t laugh at that (and/or wasn’t alarmed by its malignant narcissism) needs professional help.

  16. EJohnson Says:

    In addition to narcissism, How about Dunning–Kruger,
    unskilled and unaware?  He has absolutely no qualifying experience for the job.

  17. Mac Says:

    “Make the oceans recede? Seriously? Anyone who didn’t laugh at that…”

    I don’t follow the news as closely as many of you do, and for a long time after those remarks began circulating I assumed they were satire from some conservative. Really, I did, and I was genuinely shocked to hear that Obama actually spoke them seriously. How did people in the audience not laugh aloud?!

  18. Conrad Says:

    “It is a mystery why the president didn’t second-guess himself more, doubt himself. Instead he kept going forward as if it were working. ”

    I’m not sure I buy “narcissism” as the reason BHO didn’t second-guess himself when things weren’t working. I would argue that, for Obama and his collaborators, things HAVE been working, for the most part. Noonan’s problem is that she still naively assumes that her desired objectives for Obama’s presidency — economic growth, lower unemployment, better race relations, etc. — were his goals as well.

    I don’t think that hard-core leftists stewed in the ideology of Marx and Alinsky are really that concerned about the short-term fortunes of the people. If his policies happened to coincide with increased peace and prosperity during his first term, that have been fine with him, especially since it would presumably help him nail down a second term. However, the goal was not peace and prosperity per se. What Obama really wanted to accomplish was a vast increase the size and authority of the federal government so that Washington bureaucrats can gain the upper hand over the private sector and place government at the center of people’s lives.

    Ultimately, the goal is to wrest control over outcomes. Leftists want to be able to make people happy who DESERVE to be happy, and make people suffer who DESERVE to suffer. Mainly, they want to be the ones who determine outcomes in life, not markets, not “fate,” not free men and women operating as autonomous economic actors.

    The Obama agenda is all about building a foundation of control by the federal government through which the left can exert essentially dictatorial control over future generations of Americans. It’s clearly not about delivering tangible, positive results for average, middle-class people today except, again, insofar as that may be necessary to win a second term.

    Noonan is way off the mark, but I’m afraid that even attributing Obama’s “failures” to narcissism is missing the boat. If we’re cognizant of what Obama’s trying to do, then he’s clearly not failing.

  19. NeoConScum Says:

    EJohnson..Exactly. Or, as I kept commenting on blogs all the way through the ’08 koolaid-amnesia,”Obama hasn’t led so much as a night shift in a Circle-K Mini Mart.”

  20. Donna B. Says:

    So many parroted the line that Obama was a great orator. I never heard him say anything in any way that I thought should be called great. I wondered for a while what I was missing and finally decided I was not missing a thing.

    It’s almost the same with Peggy Noonan’s writing. I’ve never considered it to be special. It’s hard to read because of her smoothly soothing tone that skirts around the subject like fog. Did she used to be better before I knew who she was?

  21. Sam L. Says:

    Wolla, most of us got it. You’re sufficiently familiar to us. I think Peggy has some Obama symptoms. I gave up on her a few years back.

    NeoConScum, I did not know about the photo gallery.

    Mac, they were, or wanted to be, true believers. Big market for Kool-Aid in those days. And still.

    The Won’s oratory and voice irritate the heck outta me. It just does. So I guess I can see why the left complained about W’s speeches.

  22. neo-neocon Says:

    Conrad: it occurred to me to add a section in the original post explaining that it’s not just narcissism, but that some of the president’s goals have been met, and that these goals are not necessarily what people thought they were when they elected him.

    However, I’d written about that in so many other places I didn’t want to go on and on about it again. In addition, I don’t think Obama has been as successful as he wanted to be at (a) achieving all his leftist goals; and (b) ingratiating himself with the American people (after all, he faces at least a good possibility of being booted out). So he has had some failures, whatever you consider his goals to have been. And I doubt he recognizes those failures, either.

  23. Sharon W Says:

    I started questioning Noonan’s insight and judgement when she lauded the eulogies and behavior at Paul Wellstone’s funeral…yes, that long ago! She constantly was all over George W. Bush (I was a critic of his when it came to his liberal spending programs, as well), in a way that just piled it on, when he was being slammed 24/7 from every corridor. It annoyed me. I absolutely stopped reading anything she wrote once she came out and wrote a column on how there was nothing wrong with Rev. Wright and Obama’s having sat under that “Pastor”. I haven’t looked back, and only feel irritation when I come across her name.

  24. Paul A'Barge Says:

    Good grief.

    Doesn’t anyone around here read Stanley Kurtz?

    Obama is clearly willing to abandon centrist voters and place his own likeability at risk for the sake of creating a socially and economically liberal Democratic coalition that would allow him to govern securely from the left.


    You just can’t keep hammering Obama over Narcissism. And you can’t keep reading Noonan’s nonsense. This isn’t about Obama and his ego. This is about Alinsky-level political planning for the long term.

  25. neo-neocon Says:

    Wolla Dalbo:

    You might want to take a look at this post I wrote a while back on the subject of how it is that many writers are not especially perceptive or critical thinkers. I also wrote this post on the subject of why it was that wordsmiths in particular were very susceptible to being part of the phenomenon of Obama veneration.

  26. Mr. Frank Says:

    The scales also seem to have fallen off of Ann Althouse’s eyes today. I fear all this discovery has come too little too late. These people in the media and academia who were so much smarter than the rest of us sure have given us a good screwing.

    The young people, minorities, and single women who drag Obama across the finish line are going to get it good and hard with a weak economy.

  27. expat Says:

    I think the narcissism precedes the ideology. If you think you are extraordinary, you are drawn to ideas that most people living in the real world don’t share. You hang out with the cool people and the rebels. The feedback you get from them reinforces your own self image. Sure, you pursue their ideals, but you always have a place under the bus available for them if they fail to give you the honor you are due.

  28. John C. Drew, Ph.D. Says:

    This analysis rings true for me. I met young Obama while he was a sophomore at Occidental and have read all the biographies on his early life. I also think that he probably thought he had “killed” off Romney earlier in the year and didn’t realized that the attacks on Romney for being a leader at Bain were not working. In my view, Obama takes confidence from the stability of his socialist ideals and does not seem to realize that his socialist ideals are what is killing us now.

  29. Cornfed Says:

    Okay, is that really true that he put up hundreds of pix of himself in the West WIng? Give me a source, please. If true, that’s just astonishing.

  30. Minorkle Says:

    Noonan is a wonderfully skilled writer. Unfortunately for her, she lives in an environment that ostracizes any conservative or divergent thought. I have a friend who was once a very down to earth person until he married into East Coast wealth. He is now a flaming liberal. Mayor Bloomberg and even ex Cali Gov Arnold fall for this peer pressure. Being liked and viewed as “reasonable” are powerful lures.

  31. Lauren Says:

    Give Noonan a break, folks. Does it occur to you that she purposely didn’t use the term “narcissistic”? That she’s as familiar with it as you or I since it’s been invoked ad nauseam by fire-breathing conservative writers in the blogosphere to describe Barack Obama. Noonan, like other writers, reads other commentaries. And she’s not stupid. So why did she avoid using it?

    She didn’t use it, dear hypersensitive reader, because NOT using it–alluding to it instead by describing the behavior–is much more powerful, thought-provoking, and persuasive. Calling Obama a “narcissist” is not a clinical diagnosis; it’s name-calling pure and simple. It’s as mindless and meaningless as “idiot” “doofus” “dunce” or any harsher words you can think of. Name-calling is what children do and it persuades no one and inspires no higher level thinking on the subject. Does anyone ever really think, “Hmmm, I wonder why she called my friend an idiot. Maybe there’s something to that….”? But when you question the BEHAVIOR, wheels start turning and the listener (or reader) is left to form their own conclusions. After all, Noonan, unlike so many fire-breathers, has respect for the intelligence of her readers and believes they will arrive at a similar conclusion. Obama has an overly high opinion of himself. And even if they don’t think “narcissist”, they will still think “not good”.

    Get it?

  32. Instapundit » Blog Archive » NEO-NEOCON: Notes for Noonan on Narcissism. (Found, including nifty alliterative headline, at Pow… Says:

    […] NEO-NEOCON: Notes for Noonan on Narcissism. […]

  33. Amy Says:

    Lauren, I too read Noonan as being deliberate in not connecting the dots. I read her every week and have been for more than a decade. She has a literary persona of being this kindly, curious, sometimes puzzled, earnest, nice-old-lady observer of things. (Sometimes I find this irritating.) She asks questions and wonders aloud. Kind of Socratically, it seems to me. Leaving a space for others to draw conclusions. But they have already been pointed (nicely) in the general direction of the truth by the questions themselves. Even if Noonan is not conscious of doing this (but I think she is), it’s true.

  34. Amy Says:

    Also… neo, you have been connecting the dots on Obama’s narcissism for a long time, way before Noonan pretended (or not) to be puzzled about his strange lack of self-doubt. I’m pretty sure this blog was the first place I read about the possibility our president was suffering from (inflicting us with his) narcissistic personality disorder. Gave me a shiver to read about it then, and it still does now.

  35. Llarry Says:

    As the son of a man with narcissistic personality disorder and the brother of two siblings with the same affliction, I can tell you for certain that Obama has it.

    The hallmark is that they lie even when they know there’s no chance of the lie working. They never, ever, under any circumstances admit to being at fault, even when it comes to the tiniest, most insignificant piece of trivia.

    My father and my siblings have totally screwed up their lives because they believe that they’re smarter than everyone else and that they always know best. When their stupid, childish, hare-brained schemes blow up in their faces, they either lie or simply move on to the next misadventure.

    Here’s the worst aspect of these people: They believe that if we’re dumb enough to swallow their BS, we deserve whatever we get. It’s our fault, not theirs.

    They are the most destructive, implacable people on the planet. They’re incurable, too. All you can do is threaten them into submission. If you make them afraid of you and you tell them right to their faces that you know what they’re doing, they’ll leave you alone and go off to find different victims.

    That’s why it’s vital to remove Obama from power. He will not change, ever.

  36. Deserttrek Says:

    noonan supported obama in 2008 and was enthralled. i think they are both narcissitic in their own ways. he thinks he is great and she thinks people care what she thinks

  37. Dutch 1960 Says:

    The Wiki for “Narcissistic Personality Disorder”. Fits O to a tee. Interesting that it often develops in childhood due to “excessive attention or A LACK THEREOF” from parents. Hmm…all that “father” stuff, and just where was Mom back in the day?

  38. Hodge Says:

    Neo — narcissism is one of the “dark triad” of pathologies, the other two being psychopathy and Machiavellianism. Hmn…not sure that The One doesn’t qualify for all three. The best definition I ever heard about these folks came from an upper level grad student when I was just entering my PhD (psych) program: “What you need to know is…they don’t CARE about YOU.”

  39. Llarry Says:

    After all, Noonan, unlike so many fire-breathers, has respect for the intelligence of her readers and believes they will arrive at a similar conclusion. Obama has an overly high opinion of himself. And even if they don’t think “narcissist”, they will still think “not good”.

    Get it?

    Yes, I remember Noonan’s respect for her readers when she was trashing those of us who didn’t agree that Sarah Palin is an idiot snowbilly.

    Noonan voted for Obama. She’s in no position to opine on anything. That one unbelievably moronic, inexcusable vote negates everything she’s ever said or done.

    Obama was out there in the open for all to see. I’d never heard of him until 2004. When people began talking about him as a presidential candidate, it took me all of 45 minutes on the Internet to discover that he had a perfect, unbroken record of corruption, incompetence, dishonesty, and association with shady or criminal characters.

    His entire political career–such as it was–consisted of supporting legislation that enriched his donors. Sound familiar?

    Yet Noonan argued that he was so intelligent that once he became president he’d have no choice but to govern as a conservative, because he was just so gosh-darned pragmatic and, like, all smart ‘n junk.

    Not only was there no evidence that he’d do that, there was also no empirical evidence of his intelligence. In fact, in his speeches he promised to do exactly the opposite of what Noonan said he’d do, and when his Teleprompter broke down so did he. He’s a vapid, shallow actor, and anybody with an ounce of perception saw it.

    There’s no evidence that Noonan is intelligent enough herself to known what the term “narcissism” means. Her catastrophic self-delusion in voting for Obama shows that she’s not even slightly introspective or knows a thing about the human psyche.

  40. Hodge Says:

    …but then that sorta describes the great majority of politicians, I guess. …sigh.

  41. Dutch 1960 Says:

    Llarry, I too am the son of…who also was neglected as an only child. As far as I can tell, he really believes every random and contradictory thing he makes up on the fly. He says it, it is self evident, to question it is, just, well, crazy. Yet sometimes I think he doth insists too much, so I cannot be 100% sure. In any case, as the only one in the family that seems to really be aware of the situation, I have checked out completely and he is happier too. He can’t tolerate any questioning of his pronouncements at all.

  42. apophat Says:

    Narcissists don’t necessarily recognize other narcissists but they are attracted to them simply because the way a narcissist presents him/herself seems perfectly natural and in accord with the narcissist who is observing/judging the other.

    I suspect the roots of narcissism are in the brain not the environment in which they are raised. It’s sort of the diametrical opposite of the autism spectrum disorders. Narcissists have an overactive frontal lobe, are extremely social and probably have very good memories, the latter quality possibly enhancing their own self image because they mistake good memory for actual intelligence.


  43. Robbie Says:

    I had the same experience as Mac above; I thought for a long time the line about the oceans receding was a joke, and was shocked that he really said it.

  44. tiger Says:

    Noonan is vacuuous, a shallow thinker and a poor writer.

    How she managed to parlay one line – ‘It’s morning in American’ – into a career and at the WSJ, no less, is beyond me.

    When she asks questions such as this, even rhetorically, she comes across as oblivious and unaware.

    Remember: she is a conservative that supported Obama 4 years ago; her judgement is suspect. Sames goes for Kathleen Parker.

    A conservative/Republican that supports a Democrat is neither conservative NOR Republican.

  45. pbird Says:

    I feel vindicated in my opinion of Noonan now, somewhat. When I first encountered her I was impressed…

  46. Robert Hanson Says:

    While I am normally in total accord with Neocon’s posts, I find myself utterly out of accord with the comments above. I think it’s a brilliant article by Noonan. Yes, it’s easy to yell narcissist, and socialist, and idiot. And truth to tell, all of those probably do describe our POTUS. But the moment you do that, the choir sings in concert with you, and anyone not already of that opinion tunes out.

    What Peggy does here is set a mental course for those who did buy the Obama kool-aid, and are now embarrassed to have done so, and are desperately trying to understand how they could have been so wrong. She says take my hand, this is the way out of your intellectual failure, you don’t need to feel so ashamed for it. And you don’t have to feel it was some personal failure on your part.

    Many made the same mistake, and of course it’s true that the MSM Obama cheerleaders are the ones who mislead them, but so what?

    What is needed here is a path for those who somehow didn’t know, and were misled by a oh-so-leftist media, to change their minds and abandon the Won without feeling so much shame at their failure to see the truth in real time that they retreat into total denial. Noonan is providing that path, and making it seem so reasonable, that one need not feel ashamed to follow it.

    Yes, WE all know better, but the fact that the polls don’t show Romney ahead 90 to 10 means that many people still don’t know what we know. Sugar coat their awakening if it makes it more likely they will take their medicine. I’m not interested in “I told your so”. I’m only interested in moving the country back onto a Conservative trajectory and repairing the damage the Progressives have done.

  47. SteveH Says:

    What Llarry said. I can’t think of a single person who voted for Obama in 08 that i would consider either enlightened or intelligent. The proof is in the pudding of the last 4 years. To not have seen it coming is a level of ignorance that can’t be denied.

  48. Dutch 1960 Says:

    Apophat, I would agree with good memory but I am not so sure about the social part. In my personal experience, and in observing our prez, social environments are opportunities to pontificate, and that is all. Not to listen, unless it is to listen to praise from others, but instead to speak. When the narcissist speaks earnestly, it is with a passion that can enthrall and fascinate. At the first sign of resistance that cannot be overcome by earnestness, the conversation turns to condescension, and the singling out of the resistant one for specific and personalized ridicule. My take is that they don’t really like socializing with individual people, because it is a lot of work to keep the game going. Better to speak abstractly to a group.

  49. NeoConScum Says:

    Cornfed(6:33pm): My first source on the photos-of-the-Boy King on the West Wing walls was…You’re going to LOVE this…Eddie Schultz on his MSNBC Koolaid Show. About 3+years ago. Ed had been over for a visit at the White House and was semi-gushing about it and then he commented, rather matter-of-factly, about the zillions of Obam-Bam photos on the walls…He seemed to think it a tad peculiar, but not a Big Deal. I spit a tooth and have NEVER forgotten.

  50. SukieTawdry Says:

    But that’s always been Noonan’s problem. She doesn’t understand what impels this man. His behaviour is a mystery to her.

  51. Mikey NTH Says:

    Dr. Sanity called this back in 2008 if I am remembering correctly.

  52. Mikey NTH Says:

    Lizzy, thank you for confirming my recollection.

  53. blert Says:

    Well, as I’ve posted, perhaps here, before:

    As an eyewitness, I saw Barry’s Grandmother take him to the verbal woodshed time after time. after time. Heck, every time I ran into them ( an elevator ride down from the fifteenth floor ) she was raving her head off — chewing tall handsome Barry out — like a scene cut from Full Metal Jacket.

    Strangely, his ‘tutu’ ( Hawaiian for grandmother ) is never mentioned as an influence in his life — when it’s plain on the record that she was his second mother — running the household like a dictator/ control freak — all during his teen years — and beyond into college.

    ( I was witnessing him in 1983, when he was visiting during the holidays. )

    The condominium tower lies adjacent and east of Makiki Street, north of the H-1 freeway. It towers over the lesser structures nearby and can be seen with Google Earth.

    His tutu had a penthouse ( 16th floor ) facing the freeway. ( i.e. south ) It was, and surely remains, a very nice upscale condo in a very, very low crime area of Honolulu — within walking distance to Punahou prep school.

    And yes, even in 1983 I had a premonition that he’d either enter politics at the national level or go Hollywood. He ended doing both.


    As narcissistic as he is, he’s best thought of as an extremely high profile reactive-dependent — a Gonnabee.

    He fits the profile to a tee.

    The thing about Gonnabees is that they are almost uniquely unsuited to executive responsibilities — making infantile decisions right and left — and then raging against his crew when things don’t work out so well — very big into blaming.

    If left in place long enough, Gonnabees invariably implode the entire organization — taking a company right into bankruptcy.

    The Benghazi fiasco has Gonnabee written all over it.

    He sat there paralyzed, for hours, as his guns for anti-Assad Salafists blew apart. It was, and remains, beyond his keen that Iran could and would run a counter-intelligence gambit — a false flag operation — as an anti-anti-Assad move.

    And now we have Clinton cutting the anti-Assad forces off from further American support; which was the whole purpose of the assault. (!)

    Even now, the MSM can’t come to grips with the MASSIVE compromise our crypto-security has suffered. For it must be true that the Benghazi crew had encrypted communications with Washington; and the assault drove into the heart of our facility before it, and code key lists, could be destroyed.

    It is leaking out that the security elements hired by a Welsh contractor — underneath a State Department deal — were larded with Salafist themselves. Hence, the internal arrangements of the compound became almost common knowledge.

    And, FYI, Benghazi = ‘city of holy warriors.’

    Is it any wonder that the place has always been a meeting zone for islamists?

  54. William Long Says:

    The best article I’ve seen on Obama’s pathological narcissism and its danger to our nation is “Understanding Obama: the Making of a Fuehrer” by Ali Sina.

  55. apophat Says:


    Yes, of course. By socialized I did not mean they like any kind of real intercourse, only that they like people as long as they can see the people as feeding their own needs to see themselves as exceptional. As others have said, narcissists do not easily brook any kind of criticism at all.

    A good tangentially related read is: Evil Genes: Why Rome Fell,Hitler Rose,Enron Failed,and My Sister Stole My Mother’s Boyfriend by Barbara Oakley. She draws a strong relationship between her sisters BPD and the polio the sister had as a child that damaged her brain.

    By and large I’ve come to the conclusion as have many others that our brains and genes drive our behavior and we spend a whole lifetime making up stories to explain why we do what we do.


  56. R.C. Says:

    Every president inherits challenges;

    Few have so consistently done the exact opposite of what those challenges required.

    (Except in space policy, oddly. Obama got the space policy right. What’s up with that? Oh, I get it: He doesn’t give a crap about space, so he’s content to throw a bone to the private sector. Lord, how we wish he hadn’t given a crap about economics, energy, healthcare, and foreign policy!)

  57. Steve D Says:

    There’s a great show on television called ‘The Biggest Narcissist’. The person who talks about themselves the most wins.

  58. Jack Says:

    Exactly my thoughts when I read Noonan today. How solid can her core be if Obama fooled her that much in 2007-2008? She wrote for Reagan. Wrote a lot of good stuff for W. but when she openly pushed Obama, I started wondering just who pays her, because she seemed way too smart and too good a writer to so easily not see a really obviously bad guy.

  59. Steve D Says:

    Oh wait. That’s ‘The Biggest Loser’.
    Same deal. We live in the age of narcissism, guys.
    Obama is showing us the future.

  60. Steve D Says:

    ‘He doesn’t give a crap about space, so he’s content to throw a bone to the private sector.’

    According to Zubrin, Mars may someday be the new America.

  61. Tex Taylor Says:

    William Long,

    That article was excellent. Wish I had seen that four years ago. It expressed my first impressions of the danger of Barack Obama in more ways than I can count.

    Barack has done little since to change that in four years as President.

  62. Micha Elyi Says:

    …I thought I had expressed my point with some precision.
    –Wolla Dalbo

    Using pronouns without antecedents clobbered your wished-for precision.

  63. currently Says:

    Llarry nailed it at 8:53 pm.

    Can’t add much to that.

  64. Kirk Parker Says:

    Neo, reading La Noonan so the rest of us don’t have to!

  65. apodoca Says:

    Peggy Noonan is too impressed with her own “brilliance” to understand ‘narcissism’. Plus, she voted for the guy; to see ‘narcissism’ she’d have to explain to herself how she could be so brilliant and so wrong.

  66. CameronH Says:

    I am unmoved by all of this psycho-babble. In Australia we call these people Incompetent Bulls**t Artists.

  67. Steve Baker Says:

    Peg Noonan served President Reagan well, and her column in the Wall St Journal was always well written and insightful … until 9/11.

    Anyone who read her article about that event could see that she had been changed.

    I personally tried to give Ms Noonan benefit of the doubt, but when she cast her support to Obama four years ago I had enough.

    I’m embarrassed for her, and could even apologize for her, but I wish she would retire.

  68. Comanche Voter Says:

    Peggy occasionally gets hit by a clue bat. But mostly she just stumbles around in vague,and sometimes contradictory fashion. On occasion. like a blind squirrel, she finds an acorn.

    But it seems to me that what really motivates Ms. Noonan is a desire to stay on the “A” list–well maybe more accurately, the “B+” list for invites to Washington D.C. cocktail parties. She’s a fading almost has been–a somewhat improved version of Maureen Dowd who is a “never was”.

  69. wannabe Says:

    Cornfed Says:
    November 2nd, 2012 at 6:33 pm
    Okay, is that really true that he put up hundreds of pix of himself in the West WIng? Give me a source, please. If true, that’s just astonishing.

    No I DON’T think it’s true. When googling images for “halls west wing” I found this:

    Which is hosted by a PARODY website:

    I think NeoConScum is either confused or concern-trolling.

  70. Narcissism | TTRTTC Says:

    […] Noonan [is not nearly as bright as her reputation would indicate and] needs to read an article on narcissism. This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. ← Freedom of Speech […]

  71. Chargle Says:

    I honestly can’t remember the last president who wasn’t characterized as being a narcissist by some segment of the pseudo-intellectual population.

  72. neo-neocon Says:

    Chargle: most presidents (not all) have more-than-average doses of narcissism.

    That is not the same as having narcissistic personality disorder, which is what we’re talking about here. I used the term “narcissism” as a shorthand expression, although the article I linked to in the post is about the personality disorder (not just generally narcissistic traits). But I probably should have made the distinction more clear.

  73. dicentra Says:

    It occurs to me that narcissists may lack the ability to recognize a narcissist.

    My father is a cerebral narcissist and a retired professor of psychology. He can diagnose narcissism and other personality disorders in other people but absolutely not in himself.

    Nope. He’d be the first to know if HE were a narcissist. Just ask him.

    Some people are especially vulnerable to charming narcissists and sociopaths. They find the narcissist’s projected, mythical self irresistible. Just as the narcissist craves adoration, some people crave someone to adore.

    Oddly enough, academia is filled to overflowing with both types. Western academia was enthralled by Mussolini, Stalin, Mao, and to an extent, Hitler. Their bigger-than-life personae as Saviors Of Mankind was like catnip to the intelligentsia, who want nothing more than a strong man to Set Things Right (they being too impotent to do it themselves).

    The monsters of the 20th century were militaristic and über-macho, as suited that era’s sensibilities; Obama’s metrosexuality suits the pieties of today.

    I am unmoved by all of this psycho-babble. In Australia we call these people Incompetent Bulls**t Artists.

    Yes, well, now you know the clinical term for same. If you’ve ever been in close quarters with a narcissist, you’d recognize that there’s more going on than simple dishonesty or ego tripping: narcissists inhabit a different planet than the rest of us. You can tell that something’s deeply wrong.

    I honestly can’t remember the last president who wasn’t characterized as being a narcissist by some segment of the pseudo-intellectual population.

    That’s because for some people, calling someone a narcissist is merely useful as opposed to factual. You can rule out Bush II as a narcissist in two easy steps: 1—He successfully completed a 12-step program (narcissists can’t admit that something is wrong with them) 2—He ignored criticism or responded to it graciously (narcissists erupt in rage and plot vengeance).

    Obama has every single positive symptom of NPD and none of the rule-outs.

About Me

Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.

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