1.24.2022 – pathological

pathological
narcissism when in office
petty in extreme

Adapted from the line “Once addicted, the pathologically narcissistic politician can become petty in the extreme, taking every slight as a deep personal insult.” in the article, “Where egos dare: Manchin and Sinema show how Senate spotlight corrupts” by Robert Reich, a former US secretary of labor, and professor of public policy at the University of California at Berkeley.

I liked the article as much for what it said as for the word play of the 1967 book, “Where Eagles Dare” by Alistair MacLean.

I have read that the book was supposed to be titled “Castle of Eagles” but that a Hollywood producer convinced MacLean to change the title to “Where Eagles Dare” from the line “The world is grown so bad, that wrens make prey where eagles dare not perch” from Act I, Scene III in William Shakespeare’s Richard III.

But I bet you a dollar that who ever came up with the title for Reich’s article, was thinking of the movie with the same title that starred Richard Burton and a very young Clint Eastwood.

But this is the trick to the question.

MacLean was contacted by this Hollywood Producer to write an original story directly for the screen.

In this case of chicken-egg, book-movie, it was the MOVIE that came first.

According to online sources [sic], the producer told MacLean that he wanted, “a team of five or six guys on a mission in the Second World War, facing enormous obstacles. I want a mystery. I want a sweaty, exciting adventure movie.’ That’s all I told him, just that.”

I am not sure if there is a specific word or genre’ for this type of book, but I have always regarded it with a bit of awe as it takes place in realtime.

What I mean by that is that the entire book takes place within the time of about 12 hours.

12 hours to land in Germany, get inside a heavily guarded German HQ that is located in a castle on top of mountain accessible only by cable car, free a captured allied spy, capture the top three German spies and get the spies to write out a list of all the German spies in Britain, un-mask the top traitor in the British high command and get away.

A grand case of the suspension of disbelief.

If you can watch the movie and accept that all the Germans speak English, its a small step to accept all the rest.

Also a grand example of my inability to stay on topic and to fall into a digression that has no bearing on the haiku.

Or does it?

The haiku is about narcissism in politics.

The article I link to writes in the voice of an insider who has seen many great efforts brought to unexpected ends because, “Again and again, I’ve watched worthy legislation sink because particular senators didn’t feel they were getting enough credit, or enough personal attention from a president, or insufficient press attention, or unwanted press attention, or that another senator (sometimes from the same party) was getting too much attention.”

I am reminded of a story told by then Speaker of the House, Tip O’Neil.

The Speaker was elected to the House seat vacated by JFK in 1952 and was re-elected 12 times.

In politics, or at least in what I used to know as politics, running for Congress in Boston in the District that at one time was represented by John F. Kennedy, like Gerald R. Ford’s district in Michigan, was known as a ‘safe seat.’

Most likely you will be reelected.

Re-elected with very little effort.

My Dad told me how Gerald Ford would come back to West Michigan every couple of months, rent an RV and drive around the district and park in a lot and put up a sign that said “MEET YOUR CONGRESSMAN – NO WAITNG,” and then go back to Washington and forget about Grand Rapids.

The Speaker loved to tell this story about seeing some polling data from his district.

Mr. O’Neil noticed that a neighbor of his in his district, an older lady, someone who had voted the democratic ticket forever, someone that he knew, had indicated that in the last election she had NOT voted for the Speaker.

The next time he was in Boston, the Speaker sought her out and asked what happened?

Why had she not voted for him?

The lady looked at the Speaker and said in a very tired voice, a voice the Speaker never forgot, “Tip,” she said, “Sometimes folks just want to be asked.”

I bring this to up to ponder what if politicians, the House, the Senate, all of them together, somehow asked, on a regular basis, not just every two years, what we wanted.

Mr. Reich writes, “The Senate is not the world’s greatest deliberative body but it is the world’s greatest stew of egos battling for attention.

Every senator believes he or she has what it takes to be president.

Most believe they’re far more competent than whoever occupies the Oval Office.

Out of a 100 Senators, only a handful are chosen for interviews on the Sunday talk shows and very few get a realistic shot at the presidency.

The result is intense competition for attention.

I would like to see an intense competition for our attention.

To get there, all it takes is a grand suspension of disbelief.

Then I thought again about the line, The world is grown so bad, that wrens make prey where eagles dare not perch.

Written by Big Bill back in 1592.

Written by Big Bill back in 1592 about a King that had died in 1485.

A time when, The world is grown so bad, that wrens make prey where eagles dare not perch.

And again I realize, I guess, that this world and all that is going has been done before.

Like is says in scripture, “there is no new thing under the sun.” (Ecclesiastes 1:9 KJV)

PS: Mr. Reich’s paragraph about Lindsey Graham made me laugh out loud. Especially now that Mr. Graham is ‘MY’ Senator.

Reich wrote:

Some senators get so whacky in the national spotlight that they can’t function without it. Trump had that effect on Republicans. Before Trump, Lindsey Graham was almost a normal human being. Then Trump directed a huge amp of national attention Graham’s way, transmogrifying the senator into a bizarro creature who’d say anything Trump wanted to keep the attention coming.

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