Monday, October 06, 2008


Here's Sarah Palin, explaining in her Wasilla City Council years that no moral or ethical consideration applies to her if it conflicts with her needs, as described by Noam Scheiber of The New Republic:

The city had traditionally put up part of the purse for the Iron Dog competition--the grueling, 2,000-mile snow machine race that usually starts in Wasilla--and one year the council considered upping its ante. (First prize could be tens of thousands of dollars.) When a colleague pointed out that Palin should recuse herself because her husband was a perennial Iron Dog contender, she protested, "I don't think I have a conflict of interest here because Todd won it last year. There's no guarantee that he's going to win it this year." As others chimed in to explain the problem, Palin dug in her heels. "Well, it could be perceived that way, but it isn't," she harrumphed.

And here's George W. Bush, explaining early in his presidency that the judgment of experts doesn't apply to him if it conflicts with his preferences, as described by Ron Suskind of Esquire:

One morning in 2001, one of President Bush's most senior economic advisors walked into the Oval Office for a meeting with the president. The day before, the advisor had learned that the president had decided to send out tax-rebate checks to stimulate the faltering economy....

... the man ... began to explain his problem with the president's decision.... this advisor was one of the experts... He was convinced, he told Bush, that the president's position would soon enough be seen as "bad policy."

This, it seems, was the wrong thing to say to the president.

According to senior administration officials who learned of the encounter soon after it happened, President Bush looked at the man. "I don't ever want to hear you use those words in my presence again," he said.

"What words, Mr. President?"

Bad policy," President Bush said. "If I decide to do it, by definition it's good policy. I thought you got that."

And we can take this all the way back to Richard Nixon's famous words:

Well, when the president does it, that means that it is not illegal.


Scheiber's article portrays a Palin who didn't come from money and deeply resents anyone who has means or was able to get an education at a top-tier school. He also portrays Wasilla as a town where a lot of Southern, Christian-right oil workers settled, bringing their cultural views with them; Palin became their candidate.

This makes her, in a way, both a Nixon and a Bush.

Scheiber's article is an important assessment of someone who's likely to remain a national figure, either as vice president or as the leader of an anti-Obama bitter-resentment shadow government. But I think Scheiber underplays the Palin narcissism. It's narcissism interwoven with insecurity -- just like Nixon's (his insecurity was class-based) and W's (his is intellectual and familial). It's a scary trait, one we really need to keep as far away from the White House as possible.

(Suskind link via Steve Benen.)


UPDATE: Yes, I know how to spell "narcissists."

No comments: