Alex Massie

Barack Obama, narcissist?

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By which I mean only this: is Barack Obama more of a narcissist than the average egotist running for the Presidency?

Ryan Lizza's interesting GQ piece on Obama prompted Daniel Larison to suspect that

"In other words, underneath the megalomaniac is a con-man, and underneath the con-man is the guy with the delusions of grandeur. Sounds like a great combination."

I was struck by the conclusion to Ryan's thoughtful piece:

It always comes back to this, Obama struggling not to let the campaign change who he is. He has a way of reflecting on his own campaign as an outside observer. “We’ll joke,” his wife told me, “when we’re sitting at home watching TV, on the rare quiet night, and something will come on the news, and it’s about Barack Obama. We’ll say, ‘Hmm, there goes that Barack Obama again. Sounds really pretty interesting.’ I think there’s an out-of-body kind of aspect to it.” It’s clear watching Obama on the trail that he knows how absurd running for president is and what it might do to him. “Personally, for me,” Obama says, “I think the story of my campaign is the ongoing struggle to maintain my voice and my compass in a process that in a lot of ways is slightly ridiculous.” No doubt, that’s the question for him personally. Whether that should be his main concern politically is a whole different question.

Emphasis added, of course. This is an interesting way to finish the article: there's a note of impatience there. Is Lizza suggesting that it's time for Obama to grow up and realise that this holier-than-thou stuff can only take one so far? I happen to agree that most of what the candidates have to do on the campaign is entirely ridiculous, but I'm not running for President. If I were I might accept that the process was rather larger than me and accept that trade-offs and compromises are just the way things are.

So the question that arises, is, how can this be all about saving the country while also being about saving Barack Obama from the country? Unless Obama is a prophet of some sort, shouldn't he suck it up and agree that it's not about him, it's about America? Perhaps Mohammed should move towards the mountain. If he's unwilling to do tat perhaps Mr Larison isn't so far off the mark after all.

(Incidentally, you can tell how ridiculous the campaign process is when you read folk gushing over Obama's supposed "thoughtfulness" as though this constituted a bonus rather than a required qualification for the Presidency. O tempora o mores etc etc...)

[Pinged to the OTB Traffic Jam]

Written byAlex Massie

Alex Massie is Scotland Editor of The Spectator. He also writes a column for The Times and is a regular contributor to the Scottish Daily Mail, The Scotsman and other publications.

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