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Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Maureen Dowd, "High School Maniacal": Narcissism and the Undoing of a Republican Presidential Candidate

Do we ever forget our high school years? Recently, I was stunned to learn that my first love had passed away more than a decade ago. How could this be? I still remembered her red hair and smile, and notwithstanding the passing of the years and my own graying hair, in my mind, she had never grown old.

Today, in a New York Times op-ed entitled "High School Maniacal" (http://www.nytimes.com/2014/02/05/opinion/dowd-high-school-maniacal.html?ref=opinion), Maureen Dowd examines how New Jersey Governor Christ Christie continues to live out his high school years in an ongoing squabble with "old schoolmate and handpicked point man at the Port Authority, David Wildstein" over Bridgegate. Dowd writes:

"It’s risible but sort of alarming that, decades later, Christie is boasting that he was more of a big shot than Wildstein in high school, putting down the guy he created a job for, and going out of his way to say they were not even friends back when they were both connected to the Livingston Lancers — Christie as an ebullient, trim catcher; Wildstein as a quiet, bespectacled statistician.

. . . .

Bristling with narcissism and punitive aggression, he drove his point home: 'We didn’t travel in the same circles in high school. You know, I was the class president and athlete. I don’t know what David was doing during that period of time.'"

Yikes! This was the front runner for the Republican nomination for president in 2016? If Christie had any good sense, he would acknowledge his ultimate responsibility for this fiasco and retire from public office.

Meanwhile, in a Washington Post opinion piece entitled "In Christie saga, keep calm and gossip on" (http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/kathleen-parker-keep-calm-and-gossip-on/2014/02/04/3ba39658-8ddd-11e3-95dd-36ff657a4dae_story.html?hpid=z2), Kathleen Parker entertains the very real possibility that Christie didn't know of Wildstein's behavior:

"As the Christie scandal machine grinds on, his polling numbers un-shockingly are plummeting. Once in the lead in a fantasy presidential race, he now trails Hillary Clinton 39 percent to 55 percent. In the race for the GOP nomination, he trails Mike Huckabee and Rand Paul, tying with Jeb Bush.

But the night is young. It remains entirely possible that Christie is telling the truth. And evidence may or may not exist. Which means a new narrative must fill the void. It goes like this: Even if he’s telling the truth, Christie created the culture in which his people felt free to abuse power."

A "new" narrative? For me, this has been and always will be the "only" narrative. Presidents, secretaries of state, secretaries of health and governors must take responsibility for all that happens under their watch.

But Christie has no more good sense than Hillary, who, notwithstanding her ultimate responsibility for the Benghazi debacle, should also call it quits, or Kathleen Sebelius, who should have resigned long ago over the Obamacare rollout debacle.

The West is being devastated by a plague of narcissism, characterized by an inflated sense of self-importance and the need for constant attention, and there are those who believe that owing to its prevalence, it should no longer be deemed a personality disorder.

Ultimately, it is this me-first culture - not Putin or Khamenei - that will bring the temple down on our heads.

May the Lord have mercy on us!

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