Naturally I wondered how badly I’d do if I tested myself. You never want to go through life thinking you’re a decent, normal human being and then score a 38 out of 40 on the Schmuck Quiz.
So somehow I scored a bit lower than average on the NPQ, but that’s possibly because I could tell what the “right” answers were. Anyone can lie to strangers, but it takes a special talent to lie to yourself, I always say. The quiz for some reason did not include a statement along the lines of, “I know how to take a quiz to make myself sound less like a tool than I really am.”
I will also note that I’m not sure the quiz fully recognizes the phenomenon that I want to call Situational Narcissism. You know what I’m talking about: You have your moments when you’re a finger-poppin’ badarse and you walk into a room with that Let The Big Dog Eat feeling, but that’s no more the real “you” than the schlumpy person who putters around the back yard thinking, “This tomato patch would bring shame upon the family name were anyone on Earth to give a hoot about our family” and, more pithily, “My gardening sucks.”
Situational Narcissism brings up the whole issue of “the self,” and how that’s an emergent, multi-variable, largely subconscious property that will never be downloadable (word?) onto a computer, not even after The Singularity arrives. But that’s a discussion for another day.
Anyway, this item isn’t about me. It’s about Donald Trump.
Now, I will confess that I haven’t paid a ton of attention to Trump so far, even though he’s leading in the GOP polls. The Real Clear Politics average has his support at about 21 percent, which puts him in first place, but also tells us that 79 percent of Republicans have yet to catch Trump Fever.
Check out this Real Clear Politics page: It shows all the polling from four years ago. Mitt Romney was leading for a while, but then Rick Perry surged in August 2011, and was way out in front for a month. Then Perry faded and Herman Cain led the polls. Then came the Newt Gingrich boom. Romney fought back, but then Rick Santorum took over the lead. And Romney of course got the nomination. The Republican electorate is prone to infatuations.
My clever colleague David Fahrenthold had a story this weekend about Trump that pointed out that Trump has no coherent policy other than saying, in effect that he’s Trump and Trump can do what Trump wants. Because he’s Trump. For example, he wants Mexico to pay for a border wall between the United States and Mexico. When Bill O’Reilly said Mexico wouldn’t be willing to pay for such a wall, Trump responded, “You have to let me handle that, okay?”
Question: How would Trump do on the narcissism quiz?
The very first sentence on the quiz is this:
“I have a natural talent for influencing people.”
And then there’s this:
“If I ruled the world it would be a better place.”
Obviously anyone running for president is going to score pretty high on a quiz like this. At the moment, Trump doesn’t seem to have the self-deprecating move that a lot of politicians employ in their rhetoric to take the edge off their megalomania.
He certainly gets points for being direct and unscripted. On ABC’S “This Week” Sunday he was asked about past comments praising politicians whom he has recently excoriated.
Trump said: “It’s a very simple answer to that. I was a businessman all my life. I’ve made a tremendous fortune. I had to deal with politicians and I would contribute to them and I would deal with them and certainly I’m not going to say bad things about people because I needed their support to get projects done.”
The point being, he’ll say whatever he has to say to achieve his objectives. It’s a remarkably candid admission that expediency is his pole star.
FURTHER READING: My 2007 story on Red Meat Season in presidential politics. GOP candidate says, “I think we need to abandon the Kennedy wing of the Republican Party.” (On Planet Tancredo, we’re just one bilingual classroom away from total destruction.)