Monday, December 27, 2004

A Character Flaw Isn’t a Philosophy, cont. 

Fella I was talking to told me that he’d been listening to a local radio guy’s call-in show (on a station you couldn’t pay me to listen to) talking about what everybody liked about Bush was that he was decisive. He could make a decision and stick to it. That if something bad happened while Kerry was in the White House, there’d just be a lot of hand-wringing and doomsaying, not enough decisive action.

Fella said he just had to call in. Said that aside from the fact that Bush frequently changes his mind to blow with the prevailing right-wing winds (he gave the examples of creating Homeland Security, the 9-11 Commission, etc.) that being bold and decisive was often confused with recklessness and hypocrisy.

He told the story of a colleague he once had (he’s a school administrator) who was a rising star in his district because he was “decisive and bold” and had “strong values and principles” and “you always knew where he stood.” However, the problem was that most of his decisions were bad ones, and he was usually bold where caution would have been better. It was also widely known that his values included ones that aren’t on the Moral Majority’s list, casino gambling high among them. Still, he remained popular somehow, and eventually, he rose to a position of prominence in the school district.

His crash was equally stupendous when he was busted for drunk and disorderly conduct in the parking lot of the casino, and it was found out later that the district’s funds had been mismanaged by him and his staff and that thousands of dollars were missing.

Fella went on to say that after this fall from grace, everybody expressed shock, shock I tell you, that this man was so reckless.

He said the guy ended up not doing any jail time, and is probably either retired or at another district.

Anyway, he said he wasn’t a psychologist, but that often these kinds of people are easy to spot and rise to power based on this sense of boldness and self-confidence they project that people like. Even when it’s clear this “self-confidence” and “boldness” are clearly having negative results and are probably more like “reckless confidence,” or even flat-out lying, people tend to still trust these folks. He didn't know why. It seems more than a simple con, but maybe it isn't.

Fella said Bush and the people he chooses to work with—he cited Kerik as a good example—all tend to have this trait.

But what is this trait called? Is it a personality flaw masquerading as a political philosophy? If so, what’s the flaw/philosophy called? And why does it sell to the public? “Evil” just covers too much ground. I just got through reading Jon Judis’ Folly of Empire, and he called the traits, as far as I can tell, nationalism and internationalism. But that seems too broad and philosophical, lacking the personality flaw. Readers?

Oh, and speaking of decisive action, these guys got my lunch money this week: Bengal Bay tsunamis: Red Cross Red Crescent launches appeal

In case you have any lunch money.

UPDATE Thought I'd link back to some golden oldies in NPD (Narcissistic Personality Disorder) from Tresy here and here. It's troubling... —Lambert.

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