Posted on | February 5, 2012 | 91 Comments
“Gingrich should carefully play a tape of his post-Nevada caucus performance, and then he would quickly grasp that it was little more than a litany of excuses, whining, and accusations — characterized by stream-of-conscious confessionals and rambling repetitions. And, I think, will hurt him more than anything yet in the campaign.”
– Victor Davis Hanson, National Review
Some commenters have been dogging me out over my negativity toward Newt’s campaign, but I insist that this is Newt’s fault, not mine — and I also say in my defense that Newt’s stunning meltdown in the past two weeks has vindicated my repeated warnings against climbing aboard the Gingrich bandwagon.
Let’s pause, my friends, to recognize that what I write on this blog, and what you reply in the comments, will never change anything about the Republican presidential primary campaign. And we would be guilty of exaggerating our own influence if we thought otherwise.
Narcissism is a phenomenon I’ve written about at length, in regard to the madness of Pentagon shooter J. Patrick Bedell: “Paranoia is rooted in the narcissist’s need to rationalize failure, to find scapegoats for his own shortcomings.”
The characteristic trait of the narcissist is his inability to accept responsibility for his own failures. Everybody likes to believe that they deserve credit for their successes, but no one wants to believe that they are at fault when they screw up. This is normal. Yet the damaged ego of the narcissist makes it impossible for him to acknowledge his own contribution to his failures. He cannot even admit to himself that he is at fault, which is why he attempts to focus blame on scapegoats.
And so when Newt starts pointing the finger, blaming others for his failures, portraying himself as the victim — of Goldman Sachs, “money power,” George Soros, “the elite media,” Mormons (!) and a “blatantly dishonest” opponent — even his supporters ought to recognize these unseemly eruptions as symptomatic of Gingrich’s narcissistic tendencies.
Why do you think I warned you against jumping onto his bandwagon?
For all his excellent qualities — abilities that no one can deny — Newt also has this personality defect, a tendency to think of himself as a person so transcendently important that the rules which govern the behavior of normal people don’t apply to him. And when those insignificant Lilliputians (as he regards them) insist that the Great Man must account for his transgressions, Newt angrily lashes out at the scapegoats he blames for his failures, because he is incapable of accepting the blame himself.
One might have thought that his experience as Speaker of the House, of being tossed aside by his own Republican caucus and forced into more than a decade of political exile, would have taught Gingrich a lesson about the need to rein in his ego. But his resort to scapegoating (see my Tuesday column, “Fear and Loathing in the Sunshine State“) would seem to indicate that he has learned nothing, and Ed Morrissey comments on Newt’s Nevada tantrum:
If people thought that the lack of graciousness after Gingrich’s loss in Florida was a careless mistake, this press conference dispelled that notion and made Gingrich’s speech in Florida look courtly by comparison.
Indeed. And there is a danger that those who believe so fervently in Gingrich’s conservative message that they are willing to overlook the flaws of the messenger will be sucked into the vortex of Newt’s narcissistic meltdown.
This was what disturbed me about his speech to that rally in Fort Myers: Gingrich was inviting his supporters to share his paranoid conception of himself as the innocent victim of a malign conspiracy. If you RSVP to that invitation, accepting Newt’s own self-justifying rationalization of his failures, then you will be consigned to the same kind of impotent rage that Gingrich is himself now acting out.
Look, I’m not exempting myself from the criticism I apply to Newt, because I have at times struggled against the temptation to blame others for my shortcomings. But I recognize this urge as a weaknesss.
If Tabitha Hale thinks of me as “Not Good Enough for BlogCon,” for example, I confess that I alone am at fault. Either my blog sucks, or else recognition as BlogCon-worthy requires more than merely having a good blog. What made me angry at Tabitha, however, is that she publicly claimed to admire my work while simultaneously excluding me from the BlogCon agenda, and then publicly denounced me as a “liar” for being offended by the exclusion.
(Aside: Which is more insulting, to be deliberately excluded or to be overlooked as too insignificant to deserve consideration?)
No one, however, can be expected to feel my wounds as personally as I do, and when people accused me of indulging in “self-pity” for having transparently exposed my own humiliation — an accusation that added insult to the original injury — I accepted that this, too, was my own damned fault. If I had so obviously deserved to be included as a BlogCon participant, my complaint would have elicited sympathy, rather than contempt. Thus when my friends told me I was wrong to feel that Tabitha had purposefully humiliated me, the only possible conclusion was that I was not only unworthy of recognition, but was furthermore guilty of an unjust vanity in imagining myself to be so worthy.
“Not Good Enough for BlogCon,” therefore, is a judgment I have somehow deserved, a permanent stain I can never hope to expunge.
Mea culpa. Mea magna culpa.
OK, so where is the similar confession of fault by Newt Gingrich? And where, for that matter, is the admission by his supporters that Newt is now auto-destructing just as I warned weeks ago he would?
But of course, this is not about me, and it’s not about you, either. So you can rage at me in the comments all you like, but don’t imagine that you’ll thereby prevent Newt Gingrich from being Newt Gingrich. He will lose, and he will embarrass himself and his supporters in the process of losing, and nothing you or I say about it can change the outcome.
Lashing out at scapegoats is as futile as it is foolish. None of my friends who attended BlogCon complained of my absence. Most didn’t even notice. I’m simply too insignificant — “A Venn Diagram Might Be Helpful” — and this is nobody’s fault but mine.