Newt the Narcissist

Peggy Noonan unwittingly gives the very definition of a narcissist in her (largely positive) profile of the ascension of Newt Gingrich:

He is grandiose—he compares himself to Lincoln, Henry Clay, Churchill: “I am much like Reagan and Margaret Thatcher.” There are always two choices to make in modern, media-driven politics: claim you are like Lincoln, or be like Lincoln. Claim you are something and repeat it so people will think of it when they see you, or actually be that something and hope someone will notice. Mr. Gingrich tends to choose the first path. John Gaddis, in his biography of George Kennan, quotes him saying of himself: “I have the habit of seeing two opposing sides of a question, both of them wrong, and then overstating myself.” This sounds like Newt, though one writes it reluctantly, as he might hear about it and start saying “I am George Kennan.”

He often seems to be playing a part in a historical novel he’s dictating in his mind—Newt the underdog, Newt the visionary. He has a compulsion to be interesting, which accounts for some of his overheated language—things are always decayed, corrupt, sick, catastrophically tragic. He also often sounds like a cable TV political analyst, which he’s been for the past decade. He appraises his own candidacy instead of just being the candidate. The race used to be between “Mitt and Not Mitt,” but now it is between “Newt and Not Newt.” He is “the only one who can win.” This week in South Carolina: “I’m the one candidate who can bring together national-security conservatives and economic conservatives and social conservatives.” Candidates should let other people say that; serious candidates should let voters say it to exit pollers. He shouldn’t be making the grubby bottom-line calculations, he should be making an elegant case for his leadership.

If Obama’s poll numbers continue to drop, the Republic is in serious danger of electing Emperor Kuzko.

But at least he loves himself!


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