Shrinking Politicians

Pun intended. We are ruled by mediocrities who think they are Great Men. Sweaters that have been thru the wash. But also, the temptation to psychoanalyze politicians from a distance, by experts as well as by self-styled experts on people…

To begin: We are ruled by moral Lilliputians these days. People who think that reading it makes it so. Beyond Louis XIV’s 
“l’Etat c’est moi!” to the notion that the ruler not only IS the state but also can predict the future of the state, and make magic with the state, and defy the fiscal gravity of the state. So, we can pass health care a week after concealing our own government’s reports that it would cost more. And continue to say how wonderful.

As I watched our President crowing over his health care squeak to a majority, I found myself eerily reminded of Baron Harkonnen in the sci fi movie “Dune” after he has survived a recent assassination attempt. The huge villain is supported by anti gravity rockets that suspend him in air and he zips around the top of the room “I’m alive!” maniacally cackling. Maybe I watch too much sci fi. Maybe I should get out more?

I know, I know. It is unfair to blame that man and other politicians for all the moral ills afflicting our country now. Small people. Perhaps we have got the leaders we deserve, perhaps we didn’t work hard enough to fight the rascals and persuade good people to serve or should have served ourself. It’s the small size of the conscience of our current leaders that bothers me more than their party affiliation. The head of the RNC, for example, is doing more to help liberals right now than anybody…he should step down for the good of the conservative cause.

In other spheres (tho they give so much to political campaigns that it isn’t really separate), in a NYT story about pumping out the Goldman mess in the hearings http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/28/business/28goldman.html?hp :

“A Republican member, Senator Susan M. Collins of Maine, turned from one witness to the next as she asked repeatedly whether they felt a duty to act in the best interest of their clients. Only one of the four witnesses she questioned seemed to affirm such a duty outright. “

Kind of echoes a President who pushes agendas that the majority of his population do not support. And no shame about it…Summing up how it is modelled from the White House, Dewey from Detroit has a nice post up about “The Arrogant, Dismissive, even Derisive – President Obama”. http://www.deweyfromdetroit.com/2010/04/arrogant-dismissive-even-derisive.html At least we can vote his followers out in November, and get rid of him the next Presidential election.

But it is not just we are hectored, jeered at, mugged, manipulated and our life’s savings fleeced by moral pygmies these days. It’s worse.

Most of us find ourselves sometimes wondering uneasily about the mental balance, the personalities and character of our leaders. They don’t just have gall, some of them seem to have a basic disconnect from reality or any sense of social or other consequences. As the leader of the free world waffles unable to string coherent sentences together, one wonders what some of them are on. In practice, we all do it. I have to constantly fight the temptation to apply what I have learned from books and life about psychology to the rascals claiming to represent us. They are such flagrant cases.

The study that started this whole exercise in analyzing from a distance was this:

Thomas Woodrow Wilson: A Psychological Study

Neuroskeptic had a good discussion of the loose tossing around of psychiatric labels as terms of abuse. http://neuroskeptic.blogspot.com/2010/04/im-bipolar-youre-schizophrenic.html I didn’t agree with his conclusion that it is pc to object to such use of the terms. When people toss around racist epithets, they get in serious trouble, so why is mental disorder less deserving of polite treatment than race? But the point is that our culture has incorporated so much watered down psych jargon that it affects our view of everything, including our moral and political assessments.

We start doing this labelling and dismissing young. Either dishing it out, or miserably bracing against it. The taunts on the school bus “Loser…psycho…that’s so gay…weirdo…you have issues…” turn into “well, he’s different…” once they are in middle school and high school and have been forced to attend workshops on diversity, anti-harassment, how words hurt, etc. But the dis is the same. Grownups will call someone a wack job, lunatic, psycho, retarded, moron, or whisper to a confidante that someone else is. Trying to stop it is like trying to stop certain males from accessing porn.

Whatever your politics, Doctor X is a blogging psychologist who is remarkably restrained about this rush to diagnosis of public figures. He has a good post up discussing the latest criticism of Charles Krauthammer (psychiatrist and political commentator) for his off the cuff dismissals of assorted leftists and certain elected fat cats as needing meds. http://drx.typepad.com/psychotherapyblog/2010/04/diagnosing-public-figures.html He cites a liberal blog post on the subject, but the points are valid regardless of one’s political allegiance. Pathologizing the psychology (and values) of conservatives is just as prevalent these days as that of leftists.

But my own favorite political commentator put it even more pithily

“ And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but perceivest not the beam that is in thine own eye?” Luke 6:41.

Cross-posted today over at my site, Retriever: http://artemisretriever.blogspot.com/