Weekend Review: Solipsism Fixation

Obama sees himself as the only existing reality.

Mar. 9, 2014

By: Michael Barone

Solipsism. It’s a fancy word that means that the self is the only existing reality and that the external world, including other people, are representations of one’s own self and can have no independent existence. A person who follows this philosophy may believe that others see the world as he does and will behave as he would.

It’s a quality often found in narcissists, people who greatly admire themselves – such as a presidential candidate confident that he is a better speechwriter than his speechwriters, knows more about policy than his policy directors and is a better political director than his political director.

If that sounds familiar, it’s a paraphrase of what President Obama told top political aide Patrick Gaspard in 2008, according to the New Yorker’s Ryan Lizza.

More recently, Obama’s narcissism has been painfully apparent as the United States suffers one reversal after another in world affairs. But it has been apparent ever since he started running for president in 2007.

Candidate Obama campaigned not just as a critic of the policies of the opposing party’s president, as many candidates do, but he portrayed himself repeatedly as someone who, because he “looks different” from other presidents, would make America beloved and cherished in the world.

Plenty of solipsism here. Obama’s status as the possible – and then actual – first black president was surely an electoral asset. Most Americans believed and believe that, given the nation’s history, the election of a black president would be a good thing, at least in the abstract.

But that history has less resonance beyond America’s borders. …

Being on the lookout for common ground is sensible. Assuming common ground when none exists is foolish. And often has bad consequences. (Read the rest.)

Click here to show comments

Subscribe! It's Right. It's Free.