American Tragedies - Part Three

At one time or other, Nixon exhibited almost all these symptoms. I must admit that I am certainly not the first to suggest this "diagnosis" in President Nixon. It was written about in a "psychobiography" in 1999 by Dr. Vamik D. Vokan, et al. In truth, history is littered with men who suffered the same Walter Mitty-like fantasies of personal grandiosity. Napoleon and Hitler are two that leap to mind. Indeed, a measured amount of narcissism is a necessary ingredient for most effective leaders. Numerous American Presidents - from Thomas Jefferson to Franklin Roosevelt to John Kennedy to William Jefferson Clinton - had a hearty measure of narcissism in their personalities. Military leaders throughout history have displayed narcissistic personality types as well (e.g. Julius Caesar, Napoleon, George Patton).

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The problems begin, however, when this "self love and imagined infallibility overrides the individuals basic sense of reality - right versus wrong, if you will - and clouds judgement and decision-making. Under these extreme conditions, narcissistic personalities can become extremely dangerous and self-destructive. This was the fate of Nixon just as it was for other national leaders stricken with this disorder. The fall of these heads of state can often, as in the case of Napoleon and Hitler, take their countries down to ruin with them. Fortunately, in the case of Nixon, the worse case scenario was avoided. But the piper must always be paid, regardless of the tune. The cost in this instance was to irreparably tarnish the once-glittering gem that was democracy and cloud the ingenious design of the "separation of powers." The blemishes remain poignantly visible even 30 years later.

Nixon, for all his deep personal defects, was undoubtedly a political genius. His accomplishments - particularly on the international stage - are undeniable. He surely began the fall of communist Russia and the Eastern Block and made "triangle diplomacy" (deftly pitting the interests of Soviet Russia against those of communist China) part of the diplomatic lexicon. These triumphs, tragically, are lost forever, buried deep beneath the hubris of the thoroughly illegal acts of his domestic policies. The wire-tapping, the lies, the deception, the domestic spying and "dirty tricks" are the eternal legacy of the Nixon Administration.

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Posted in Home Improvement Post Date 02/08/2016