Saturday, July 28, 2007

Hillary Clinton: guilty narcissist

What is it exactly that makes a person want to tell other people what to do? Not once in a while, not on specific matters, but generally. Always. As a career.

We may have the answer, thanks to Professor John Peavoy.

Is Dr. Peavoy a psychotherapist laying claim to a revolutionary new technique of analysis?

Better than that.

He's an old high school friend of Hillary Rodham Clinton who corresponded with her throughout their college years and kept all her letters. Even better, he just gave them to the New York Times.

Times writer Mark Leibovich dug out lots of wonderful lines from the letters, which paint a picture of a young woman who believed her rightful place in the world was at the center of the universe. She had “not yet reconciled myself to the fate of not being the star” she wrote once, confessing at another time that as a child, she liked to play in a patch of sunlight in front of her house "and pretend there were heavenly movie cameras watching my every move."

Young Ms. Rodham tried out different roles in her search for other people's confirmation of her world view. "Since Xmas vacation, I’ve gone through three and a half metamorphoses and am beginning to feel as though there is a smorgasbord of personalities spread before me,” she wrote in April 1967. “So far, I’ve used alienated academic, involved pseudo-hippie, educational and social reformer and one-half of withdrawn simplicity.”

There is evidence that the world did not give her the reception she desired. Six months later she writes that she "wallowed in a morass of general and specific dislike and pity for most people but me especially."

But a month later she seems to have hit on the formula. Mark Leibovich writes:

Ms. Rodham becomes expansive and wistful when discussing the nature of leadership and public service, and how the validation of serving others can be a substitute for self-directed wisdom. "If people react to you in the role of answer bestower then quite possibly you are," she writes in a letter postmarked Nov. 15, 1967.
Bingo! Validation! Tell other people what to do, and at last, finally, feel the satisfaction of assuming your rightful place in the universe!

This is the point at which philosopher and novelist Ayn Rand would point out that the philosophy of altruism is pure evil, ending inevitably in dictatorship, and that a philosophy of rational self-interest is essential to human happiness and freedom. Observe:
“Last week I decided that even if life is absurd why couldn’t I spend it absurdly happy?” [Ms. Rodham] wrote in November of her junior year. “Then, of course, the question naturally bellows operationally define ‘happiness’ Hillary Rodham, acknowledged agnostic intellectual liberal, emotional conservative.”

From there, she deems the process of self-definition to be “too depressing” and asserts that “the easiest way out is to stop any thought approaching introspection and to advise others whenever possible.”
Today Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton spoke to college Democrats in South Carolina and proposed a publicly-funded academy that would provide a free education to future public servants. By this, of course, she means she would use tax money that the government has forced you to pay in order to train more people who want to tell you what to do.

"I'm going to be asking a new generation to serve," she said.

That's different. She doesn't usually ask.

Copyright 2007

Editor's note: You might be interested in Ayn Rand's 1964 book, The Virtue of Selfishness.