Tuesday, February 12, 2008

The best leaders are not obsessed with themselves

Real personal integrity and character comes from having a consistent set of values and exhibiting behavior driven by those values. Today's classic narcissistically-driven politicians like both Hillary and Bill can only flutter in the political winds, and zelig-like easily take on whatever characteristics their public care to project onto them.
It is easy to be tough and ruthless with political adversaries in the US political battlefield. The kind of threat political adversaries pose is hardly life-threatening (though in other, less civilized nations it may well be). Political bullies like the Clintons, for example, feel perfectly safe in viciously attacking and denigrating those who oppose them. And, when it happens occasionally that a political adversary unexpectedly shoots back and won't go away, the bully easily falls back on the "victim" role and whines about "vast right-wing conspiracies" or sheds a few tears on cue and such.
This is not the kind of person who can face real threats in the real world very effectively because this is not the kind of person who can effectively deal with threats they do not perceive as personal--why should they care much about any other kind, unless the polls indicate they should?.
Hillary Clinton did not get where she is today by being a person of integrity, honesty and courage--she got there by riding on the coattails of her charismatic husband; and by shrewdly altering her opinions to accommodate the prevailing political winds. And, oh yes, by ruthlessly destroying whoever got in her way. And even her base is able to recognize this about her, although she is extremely careful never to dirty her own hands.
Like the Hamas and Hezbollah gunmen who shield themselves with innocent women and children, Hillary and her spouse have always had a ready supply of useful fall-guys (recall Vince Foster's suicide or Sandy Berger's archival exploits, for example) to take responsibility for their misdeeds.
That is why candidates like Obama are so attractive: because this same voting base that once adored Hillary now find her too too obvious and coarse, and have swung over to the unknown, tabula rasa candidate on whom they are able to project their own fantasies without any intrusion by harsh reality...
We have already witnessed Round 1 of Hilary's attack on her opponent. Her grandiosity and ambition match that of her philandering husband ounce for ounce; and she will lash out unmercifully toward anyone who threatens her political ambitions, or send Bill to do it. The only reality you can count on is that she will definitely not lash out at Islamic Jihadists --unless it happens to be politically expedient and popular to do so.
As the campaign progresses, her views will move ever leftward to accommodate whomsoever she decides she needs to co-opt in order to achieve her ambitions.Right now, it is smart for her to play both sides--to speak toughly, and carry a little stick, so to speak, which is the "mommy" alternative, I suppose, to politically incorrect paternalism. She can let Bill do much of the dirtier work and then blame him if it backfires on her.
The best leaders are not obsessed with themselves; with polls; or with accumulating power by pandering to all sides. Those leaders may, in truth, have many other personal flaws--but not particularly of the dangerously narcissistic variety. Whatever those flaws (and we all possess them), they are characterologically able to be more concerned about dealing with external reality; rather than in preserving a distorted and fragile internal one.
Avenging petty slights and insults is not a high priority to a psychologically healthy person. Those healthy individuals are far more likely to direct their psychological energy toward dealing with real-world geopolitical threats that endanger both their country and the people they have the responsibility to protect; rather than using that country or the power of their office to counter threats to their endangered self and act on their grandiose fantasies about themselves.
The latter is the same psychological pathology that is rampant among dictators and dictator wannabes of all stripes. Their concern about others in their group/nation is purely of the “l’├ętat c’est moi” variety. Look at Saddam's behavioral legacy. Observe the recent behaviors of Ahmadinejad or Chavez or Kim Jong Il -- or any of the other despots and thugs that somehow claw their way up to the top of the food chain in their respective countries.
That the needs of the nation, or the people they serve, might be different from their own; or that doing the right thing is often different from doing the popular thing, are foreign and dangerous concepts. The only reality they know--or care about--is the one inside themselves.

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