Wash­ing­ton’s nar­cis­sis­tic per­son­al­ity dis­or­der

The Covington News - - Local News -

We have a fi­nan­cial cri­sis that threat­ens our econ­omy — that’s clear. But what’s pre­oc­cu­py­ing me and a lot of Amer­i­cans to­day is that the events of the past few days also have re­vealed a po­lit­i­cal cri­sis of con­fi­dence we face that may be even more dire and longer­last­ing.

On Mon­day we lost wealth equiv­a­lent to the en­tire econ­omy of In­dia — in one day. A nearly 10 per­cent drop in the S& P 500’s value.

Our real eco­nomic prob­lem is not in the stock mar­ket, which is func­tion­ing. It’s on the credit side, where the prob­lem is not that the credit mar­ket is in dan­ger of fall­ing ( it’s gotta do that) but of ceas­ing to ex­ist for a sus­tained pe­riod.

Peo­ple who can’t sell bonds and other credit in­stru­ments don’t know what they are worth. Things that you can’t sell have an im­me­di­ate real value of “ zero,” even if their ac­tual value — in a sane mar­ket that’s work­ing — would be con­sider- ably higher.

Amid all this mount­ing un­cer­tainty, one thing has be­come crys­tal clear: Our po­lit­i­cal class stinks.

We face a cri­sis of al­most un­prece­dented mag­ni­tude — a po­ten­tial Great De­pres­sion that threat­ens the well- be­ing of mil­lions of Amer­i­cans. And what do our politi­cians do?

Well, they dis­play all the traits of Nar­cis­sis­tic Per­son­al­ity Dis­or­der, a se­ri­ous psy­chi­atric con­di­tion that is char­ac­ter­ized by ( a) a need for at­ten­tion and adu­la­tion and a grandiose sense of one’s own im­por­tance that re­sults in ( b) ma­nip­u­la­tive and ex­ploita­tive be­hav­ior to­ward oth­ers in­clud­ing ( c) a ten­dency to de­mean and crit­i­cize any­one who dis­agrees with them and ( d) a marked ten­dency to shift blame and re­spon­si­bil­ity for one’s own be­hav­ior onto oth­ers.

Nancy Pelosi has got to be one of the weak­est and most pas­sive- ag­gres­sive House speak­ers in his­tory. How else to ex­plain that on a must- win is­sue for the na­tion, al­most 40 per­cent of Pelosi’s own Democrats voted against the “ bailout” bill? Why did Speaker Pelosi use her minute on Mon­day dur­ing this na­tional cri­sis to make it clear she in­tended to use the cri­sis to kill as many Repub­li­cans as pos­si­ble: “ Seven hun­dred bil­lion dol­lars — a stag­ger­ing num­ber but only a part of the cost of the failed Bush eco­nomic poli­cies to our coun­try.”

A few days of ris­ing above pol­i­tics to get the deal done in the na­tion’s in­ter­est — is that too much to ask a speaker of the House?

But John McCain’s be­hav­ior was, in my hum­ble opin­ion, even worse — in­sult­ing to the in­tel­li­gence of the Amer­i­can peo­ple. For ex­am­ple, in a Sept. 26 press release McCain said:

“ Both par­ties in both houses of Congress and the ad­min­is­tra­tion needed to come to­gether to find a so­lu­tion that would de­serve the trust of the Amer­i­can peo­ple. ...

“ The dif­fer­ence be­tween Barack Obama and John McCain was ap­par­ent dur­ing the White House meet­ing yes­ter­day where Barack Obama’s pri­or­ity was po­lit­i­cal pos­tur­ing in his open­ing mono­logue de­fend­ing the pack­age as it stands. John McCain lis­tened to all sides so he could help fo­cus the de­bate on find­ing a bi­par­ti­san res­o­lu­tion that is in the in­ter­est of tax­pay­ers and home­own­ers.”

On Sept. 29 McCain re­peated:

“ Our leaders are ex­pected to leave par­ti­san­ship at the door and come to the ta­ble to solve our prob­lems. Se­na­tor Obama and his al­lies in Congress in­fused un­nec­es­sary par­ti­san­ship into the process. Now is not the time to fix the blame. It’s time to fix the prob­lem.”

This is in­sane. Worse, it’s dis­gust­ing. Does John McCain ( or his han­dlers) think we have no ears? That we won’t no­tice his nasty par­ti­san jab­bing while pos­ing as a leader above the fray?

Here’s what our dys­func­tional po­lit­i­cal sys­tem now en­cour­ages: The last man jab­bing and jab­ber­ing thinks he’s go­ing to win.

Mag­gie Gal­lagher is a writer and colum­nist who also serves as pres­i­dent of the In­sti­tute for Mar­riage and Pub­lic Pol­icy and as pres­i­dent of the Na­tional Or­ga­ni­za­tion for Mar­riage.

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