A recent article by Paul Rosenberg in Salon contends that Paul Ryan, the Republican congressman from Wisconsin and erstwhile running mate of Mitt Romney, exhibits many of the hallmarks of a psychopath. Rosenberg claims that Ryan is “arrogant, manipulative, deceitful, and remorseless.” Whether Ryan is guilty of any or all of these sins or not, they seem to fit the bill of another prominent figure in Washington, DC: Barack Obama. Is the president a psychopath?
The president certainly has shown arrogant tendencies. In the days after his first inauguration he spurned the Republicans and tried to transform the healthcare industry from the White House. Heck, he didn’t even ask for all that much input from the congressional leadership of his own party!
Obama’s arrogant behavior hardly ended in 2009. In his last State of the Union, the president proudly declared that he had “a pen and a phone” and that he would go over the head of the Congress whenever it got in his way. If that isn’t arrogance, I don’t know what is!
Barack Obama has also proven to be a capable manipulator. He has a firmer control over his media image than most politicians in recent memory. As an article in Politico describes, “President Barack Obama is a master at limiting, shaping and manipulating media coverage of himself and his White House.”
For remorselessness we need go no further than that same promise. When confronted with his lie, the president tried to get out of it by saying, “What we said was you can keep it if it hasn’t changed since the law passed.” Apart from that second statement being a lie in itself, it shows a clear lack of remorse for his shameless misleading of the American people.
Does any of this prove Barack Obama is a psychopath? Rosenberg answers this question himself when he admits that “it’s impossible to clinically diagnose someone from a distance.” Yet Rosenberg is perfectly confident to assert in the very same breath that he believes, “a good case can be made that Ryan has exhibited classic signs of psychopathic traits.” Well, the same, if not a better, case can be made that Barack Obama has exhibited those same classic signs.
But there’s another name for a person who obfuscates issues, goes back on promises and positions, and behaves opportunistically and manipulatively: a politician. What Rosenberg describes isn’t psychopathy, it’s politics in action. All calling such people psychopaths accomplishes is giving one more dirty name to an already dirty business.
The problem Rosenberg suffers from is not uncommon among the torchbearers of the fire-breathing political left: he believes that the people who disagree with his political views are essentially, to use some of his own words, “racists” and “con artists.” He sees evil intention where there is, in fact, just honest disagreement of opinion.
Perhaps Rosenberg should ask real questions, rather than resort to name-calling. Who knows, people might even start to take him seriously.