Wednesday, March 26, 2008
All my life I have known a certain type of person who does not live in quite the same world as me. They lack irony and everything they say sounds slightly false, a little too transparently self-promoting and often quite unbelievable. I suppose it's narcissism. I was going to call them Narcs, but this has other overtones, and egotist isn't quite right, so let's call them Meists. Meism need not be a terrible thing. I like some of these people, some have been my friends. But always, when I am with them, I am aware of having to falsify myself in order to get on their wavelength. Basically, as is usual with narcissists, one has to accept their self-estimation otherwise one will simply be rejected. I sense that Hillary Clinton is one of these people, though not Bill. When I interviewed him, he seemed full of irony and a sort of grand insouciance; he was an egotist but not really a meist. I have always been fascinated by meists - at one end of the scale this explains my obsession with Jeffrey Archer, one of the most outrageous meists in the business. And so, at the moment, I'm fascinated by Hillary, in particular by the criticism and abuse her increasingly obvious meism is attracting. I linked to this David Brooks column earlier, but also here is Maureen Dowd who suggests Hillary wants McCain to win so she will have another shot in 2012. Most scathing of all there is Andrew Sullivan - a self-confessed Hillary-hater - who, in post after post, takes the woman apart. The commentary indicates that people now see that Hillary's is not the harmless, garden-variety meism that afflicts many politicians (and journalists); it is the more dangerous type in which the survival of the meist's self-image is a value that trumps all others and which requires the destruction of anybody who does not subscribe to that self-image. Allowing for the fact that I don't know her, I suspect this is right. The way she is now tossing any abuse she can in Obama's direction and the increasing transparency of her lies suggest she is in an acute meist phase in which the self thrashes around and clutches any available weapon to sustain its coherence. One shudders at the onset of such a phase in the Oval Office. All of which is to say - Obama or McCain, but, please, under no circumstances Hillary.
Posted by Bryan Appleyard at 1:34 pm