Friday, June 02, 2006


Jennifer Biddison asks, does Congress itself breed a "culture of corruption"? (hat tip: Betsy)
No one is 100% blameless in Washington, D.C, no matter how much integrity or faith they start out with. Even our congressional heroes have regrets about how they’ve handled situations in the past. So let’s cut out the silly self-righteousness and self-centeredness, prosecute members of both parties who break the law, and get back to debating the issues that the American people really care about.

There is a disorder referred to as "Acquired Situational Narcissism" induced in adulthood by celebrity, wealth, and fame. This disorder seems to "victimize" many of our elected officials; as well as the wealthy, Hollywood or other "super" stars, renowned authors,and other authority figures. The symptoms are the development of grandiose fantasies, inability to empathize with "ordinary" people; and the inevitable narcissistic rage in reaction to a slight--either real or imagined-- of any kind.

...the celebrity's life is abnormal. The adulation is often justified and plentiful, the feedback biased and filtered, the criticism muted and belated, social control either lacking or excessive and vitriolic. Such vicissitudinal existence is not conducive to mental health even in the most balanced person.

If you take someone with a few narcissistic traits to begin with (and what politician doesn't have them?), and put them in a situation where they are adored, worshipped, and make to think (by the adoring and worshipping staff) that they are the center of the universe; and that words from their mouth are the font of all wisdom and knowledge--you would get something similar to the grandstanding meatheads we see every day on our TV screens; who are convinced that the rules that apply to others don't apply to them. That they are "special" and therefore protected from the consequences of their behavior.

If they had any humility or integrity when first elected, it soon evaporates under the conditions of neverending privilege and adoring media exposure. The "dedicated public servant" persona subtly begins to shift from concern about their constituents and their country; to concern about enriching themselves and doing whatever is necessary to get re-elected. This psychological shift in perspective-- more than any other rationale that can be made--convinces me that congressional term limits are an absolute necessity.

It also convinces me that the only people generally worthy of being elected officials are those who would never under any conditions seek, or aspire to public office. Such individuals would be relatively immune from the almost inevitable descent into narcissistic indulgence.

Corruption is defined as an "impairment of integrity, virtue, or moral principle". I'd say that defines the narcissistic culture of congress pretty well.

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