There is nothing like watching politicians utter the naked truth. So rare it defies belief. Like Cidinha Campos, the blunt Brazilian Congresswoman from Rio de Janeiro, who points the finger at the bad political apples with justified and refreshing outrage. The late Ohio Congressman Jim Traficant had nothing on her.
It is worth watching Brazil’s Campos for a few minutes on the floor of the Brazilian Chamber before reading the brief translations (here). Referring to a corrupt congressman who did himself in, while citing specific violations of legal codes, she said:
I want to discuss those who shamelessly take from the public purse.
He is more corrupt than his politician father. Corruption is in the DNA of our politicians instead of being addressed by the legal system.
This corrupt thief appointed himself to the Treasury. I see their cynicism. The more corrupt they are, the more simpatico they come across to people.
It would be even more refreshing if the American press and media alike were to have Cidinha Campos’s cojones. But these exalted keepers of political knowledge act as if political decisions are made in a utopia where cause and effect are always meant for the common good and to save taxpayer dollars.
As Cidinha makes clear, politicians are not molded by events, it’s the other way around.
Never mind the serial briefing papers, roundtable discussions, and professions of undying devotion to a cause or constituency. The ultimate decision always boils down to politics.
Certainly they know this?
There’s nothing like an equation to solve for what is perhaps still the unknown out there. Harold Lasswell (1902-1978) — considered the father of political psychology — made an, um, textbook case:
Which means: Political man (p) projects his personal needs onto a public object (d), and then rationalizes it (r) as being in the public interest. And, voilá, you’ve got P. The power seeker. Homo politicus.
The fourth estate’s vitriolic debates prattle on instead with the “he said, she saids,” accepting political legers de main — whether the “left or right” main — as the rightful cause to effect when it’s really legers de man.
The obvious? Obamacare: To amass more Democrat voters for the party, to leave a legacy for the president’s ego, no matter what the negative consequences to American taxpayers, to insurance companies, to the economy, to, eeek!, medical care. All rationalized as providing more coverage for American people with no cost to taxpayers or others. And, in the end, papered over with lies: “You can keep your plan, your doctor, it will be cheaper…”
The role of a leader’s personality and personal needs has been ignored, says Jerrold Post, the political psychiatrist, in his book Leaders and Their Followers in a Dangerous World. It is “leaders who make decisions,” not interest groups or events.
The scientific reality is that to decide or judge is to engage the brain and to engage the brain is to engage: emotions, moral sense, memories (including buried ones) and irrational decision-making. Always and without fail.
The frontal lobe, behind the forehead, is where reasoned, logical thinking takes place. When mulling over a decision, it always consults the limbic system lying deep within the brain and made up of a complex number of structures responsible for our emotions, behavior, motivation and long-term memories.
The limbic system is that inner voice you “hear” — that gut feeling — that helps you gain an accurate first impression of someone without being able to articulate why. The limbic system gives you those instant and unwise urges — say, to slap someone who just insulted you — but it is often held back by the rational frontal lobe which keeps your social behavior in check in order to avoid embarrassing moments, setbacks and personal failure.
Even though lawyers insist that justice is based on logic and logic alone, never does the frontal lobe make a decision without the subconscious input from the limbic system.
Especially and most particularly in politics.
President Obama’s decision-making has been so oddly lacking political reason that even his foes can’t conclude it’s his lack of experience or that he is perhaps that incompetent.
But even before his senseless decisions peaked — the situation with ISIS is out of control, for one — his psychology had been addressed. Shrinks voice unanimous analysis based on keen observation of his actions and superimposing them on the childhood revealed in Obama’s autobiographical books. Between books like Obama on the Couch, various pieces in psychology journals, and even a piece in the New Republic, the proverbial couch is no longer necessary as it is clear he has the classic narcissistic personality.
Not an off-the-chart diagnosis for a politician, but Obama’s childhood — unlike that of Presidents Franklin Roosevelt, Johnson, Carter, Clinton, Ford, Bush (both), and Reagan, all of whom had loving and loyal mothers — does engender compassion given it was fraught by maternal and paternal rejection and abandonment.
It’s common knowledge that his father left and returned to Kenya and that Obama’s temporary situation in Indonesia as stepson of his mother’s second husband also came to an end when he was sent back to Hawaii as a young boy to live with his maternal grandparents.
Never mind hardship reasons, which wasn’t even the case. Even when death occurs it is still interpreted as abandonment by a child’s innocent mind unless one is lucky enough to have a loving stepmother like President Lincoln did after he lost his mother at the tender age of nine.
Obama also revealed in his book that he suffered terrible beatings at the hands of his grandfather. Vicious enough for a child but made worse when your divorced mom and dad are thousands of miles away.
Jerrold Post elucidates: a child needs a mother’s love and admiration to feel protected and valued, as well as a father figure to idolize and make the child feel whole, worthwhile and worthy of attention.
“Children rejected by cold or absent mothers are emotionally hungry, and have an exaggerated need for love and admiration.”
Throughout adulthood, these people end up subconsciously compensating for the painful lack of self-worth by putting themselves in situations where they gain the love, adulation, and recognition their emotionally hungry self so desperately craves.
This, says Post, is the “mirror-hungry” personality of the charismatic person. Like Obama. And like ying to yang, the mirror-hungry seeks the “ideal-hungry” personality, he says, because the latter is attracted to the political leader’s “sense of grandiose omnipotence” since the ideal-hungry person needs to gain validation from someone of exalted status.
The hallmark of a destructive mirror-hungry leader, he explains, is “polarizing rhetoric, drawing followers together against some outside enemy” (Republicans, Wall Street, CEOs…).
The ideal-hungry in turn blindly believe these leaders, ignorant of the fact that the behavior they’re worshipping is nothing short of the quite dysfunctional symptoms of a narcissistic personality, as defined by the official psychology diagnostic manual:
- “Expects to be recognized as superior and special, without superior accomplishments.”
Obama’s audacity of hope that he could be president, in spite of his having been a mere community organizer, a state senator with an aborted, brief four-year stint in the Senate.
- “Expects constant attention, admiration and positive reinforcement from others.”
Obama seeks and bears the big grin when before worshipping audiences. He consults only with a very small circle of followers who tell him what he wants to hear, as clearly laid out here:
- “Lacks the ability to empathize with the feelings or desires of others.”
Over the six years, Obama has been unwilling and is incapable of seeking out Republicans or Democrats on Capitol Hill, as all presidents necessarily do. Nor is he willing to consider their feelings or to compromise: The infamous “I Won.”
And again here.
- “Is arrogant in attitudes and behavior.”
The unfailing unpresidential strut up and down the steps of Air Force One — and even on the single step to the White House podium, with elbows up.
His (true) audacity in reversing his words on immigration (“the law prevents me from granting amnesty”), lying to the American people about Obamacare, protesting not to know anything about the IRS, Benghazi, and, now, Jonathan Gruber.
- “Is preoccupied with thoughts and fantasies of great success, enormous attractiveness, power, intelligence.”
Obama is attractive but he behaves as if his fawning over important or beautiful women — with selfies — is becoming of the office he holds. The inappropriate kissing of Oprah, Aung Suu Kyi, and the Danish Prime Minister.
Conversely, the scathing disdain he shows those who disagree with him (seen in previous “I Won” link) or whom he considers not on his team — in power or intellect — is of a man whose anger seethes so close to the surface he wears it on his starched long sleeve.
Of course politicians get angry, but it is generally after long and frustrating negotiations where someone is not playing by the rules.
But Obama seems to be always angry. Angry brains of narcissists are half-cocked because they still harbor the painful memories and continue to feel the fear of rejection. They seek vengeance to displace this anger and subconsciously direct it at individuals or entities who serve as stand-ins for those who hurt them in childhood.
For Obama it’s people (e.g., McCain) who threaten his already fragile self-esteem because they’re also in a position of power or, again, with policy opposed to his. And people, like Bill and Hillary Clinton, who would undermine or outright block his easy path to grandeur and power — Obamacare, amnesty, you name the legacy — or remind him of his inexperience, his empty suit.
These people all end up feeling his wrath or getting thrown under the bus somehow. Even his allies. Most recently, his undermining the re-election of previously supportive Democrats who couldn’t be allied with him during this year’s midterm election (“I may not be on the ballot but my policies are”).
The examples are endless.
Obama’s decisions have never been for the “run-of-the-mill” political reason like getting amnesty for five million immigrants because he needs to show it’s the Democrats who successfully acted on immigration.
Instead, and like an angry teen-ager who defaces walls with graffiti, he effaces the Constitution instead with his feckless and reckless Executive Orders, no matter the consequences.
He is Homo politicus on steroids.
And why did he let the Middle East reach the point of ISIS? He certainly had the Pentagon, the CIA, the State Department advising him of the opposite… and very early on.
No, I dare say that angry brain is hell bent on directing his anger at the whole lot, the entity called America.
Obama’s thinking brain is, naturally, wired to reason like a mature adult and to make “executive” decisions bereft of politics and befitting of POTUS. But his angry brain is psychobiologically incapable of suppressing the strong cocktail of subconscious pain, anger and revenge streaming up from his limbic system.
To Obama’s psyche, revenge will always be more valuable and necessary, than will the avoidance of the costs and consequences of his immature and destructive decisions and actions.
We now know from revealing tomes by insiders and outsiders (Gates, Panetta, Edward Klein) the inner workings of this dysfunctional White House, where cabinet briefing papers and staff memos are given cold shoulders (Secretary of Defense Hagel being the most recent casualty), chiefs of staff are relegated to figurehead positions, and key staff members are undermined because decisions are made by two brains:
Obama’s — in needy mode — and Valerie Jarrett — as mother figure.
Valerie is not the ideal-hungry because she seems to be too solipsistic for that. Few senior presidential aides have demanded Secret Service detail. And five agents?!
No, the ideal-hungry ones are not just the sycophantic liberal media, the drive-bys as Rush Limbaugh accurately labels them, who reflexively shoot down anything Republican while mindlessly propping up the emperor each time he stumbles.
Like Brazil’s Cidinha, the finger points at the Democratic Party who propped up this fragile person as their political puppet — their polpett — to dangle before the ideal-hungry American people. Or, to invoke a Gruberism: the “stupid American people” who fell hard for this charade.
The crusade of a political party used to shamelessly foisting false aphorisms and empty promises on people, and desperate to claim the first black president — in spite of Lincoln and, ahem, Clinton — as their own. No matter that their very willing, very mirror-hungry puppet was really a hurting empty shell.
His political handlers even provided the ideal-hungry population — the media, the press — to aid and abet and prop him up — and to sell him to the American people. No examples necessary here but just to cite Chris Matthews as mascot.
Obama is not blameless. Part of his anger must be self-directed. He knew he wasn’t up to the job — he cognitively knows his weaknesses but his limbic system was bound to fall prey to the ultimate self-validation — the presidency — that would serve to fill that emotional void his parents created.
Indeed, as the story goes on his first night as president, standing on the White House rooftop with his friend from Hawaii, Obama said:
Can you believe I actually got elected?