I’ve been thinking about John Edwards’ predicament and realize that what bothers me is neither the affair nor the fact that he lied about it but his comment to ABC’s Bob Woodruff that he did it because he was “egocentric and narcissistic.”
The idea that a politician is egotistic and narcissistic is hardly news but it is a bit strange for him to blame his indiscretions on those characteristics. But what’s been bothering me ever since watching Edwards on Nightline last week is the implications of what it means for a politician to feel this way. Along with egotism and narcissism comes a sense of entitlement and the sense that one can do no wrong. Edwards’ fidelity is between him and his wife but I worry that that same arrogance could apply to other matters, including decisions that affect how a politician governs once elected.
In Edwards’ case it’s kind of moot since he didn’t hold public office during this period but one can only assume that he was narcissistic when he was a member of the U.S. Senate. And while Edwards may be the first to admit these traits on national television, my guess is that they are all too common among politicians and elected officials. So, the question the bothers me most is not who officials are sleeping with but how this narcissism may be effecting the decisions that affect the rest of us.