The philosopher Christopher Lasch predicted this. Way back in 1978, Lasch wrote a book called “The Culture of Narcissism” in which he predicted what would come from “the dotage of bourgeois society.” Lasch saw the coming man-child, the “narcissistic personality” of our time… “their emotional shallowness, their fear of intimacy, their hypochondria, their pseudo-self-insight, their promiscuous pansexuality, their dread of old age and death.” People who had lost their memory, without history… “a culture that has lost interest in the future.”
Even before social media made it possible for anyone/everyone to become an overly self-regarding, self-celebrating, living-in-the-moment celebrity – Lasch saw it coming – and he saw “leaders” like Cory Booker, once himself king of the Twitter realm, a politician who offers his childish “feelings” and a false intimacy in place of rational discourse. A Peter Pan.
Forty-years ago, Lasch wrote that the cultural Narcissists’ outlook on life was revealed in “the new consciousness movements and therapeutic culture; in pseudo-confessional autobiography and fiction; in the replacement of Horatio Alger by the happy hooker as the symbol of success; in the theater of the absurd and the absurdist theater of everyday life; in the degradation of sport; in the collapse of authority; in the escalating war between men and women…”
Last week Senator Booker contrived an “I am Spartacus” moment, as a juvenile would, not to teach but in order to attract a moment’s satisfying attention. His ego sated, to boost celebrity his acolytes sent record of the moment to the four corners of the globe. But it was all play-acting, make-believe, false, fake… more like playing dress-up, as children do.
During the Senate Judiciary Committee's hearing on the nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, Senator Booker threatened to release confidential documents relating to Judge Kavanaugh's service as a lawyer in the Bush administration. "I understand the penalty comes with potential ousting from the Senate," our brave Booker said, "This is about the closest I'll probably ever have in my life to an ‘I am Spartacus' moment."
For his “I am Spartacus” moment, Senator Booker posed that he was in real danger – that he could be prosecuted for revealing confidential correspondence that had been provided to a Senate Committee by someone facing confirmation hearings. Booker was acting against the kind of basic confidences most small town council members understand when they enter into “executive session” to discuss a personnel issue. Booker called another Senator a “bully” (shades of the school yard again?) for suggesting otherwise.
Except that it wasn’t even that, because Senator Booker had sought and received permission from committee counsel of both parties. There was never a “Spartacus moment” because – like a true Narcissist, Booker loves himself so much that he would never place himself in such danger. He just likes the celebrity that comes with pretending to do so… and so he made it all up.
No less than the Washington Post reported that the so-called "confidential" correspondence was already cleared for public release before Booker's floor show, confirming the fact with both Democratic and Republican aides on the judiciary committee.
"We cleared the documents last night shortly after Senator Booker's staff asked us to," confirmed Bill Burck, Bush's presidential records representative. "We were surprised to learn about Senator Booker's histrionics this morning because we had already told him he could use the documents publicly. In fact, we have said yes to every request made by the Senate Democrats to make documents public."
A confirmed narcissist never likes to be called out, and when Wall Street Journal reporter Byron Tau questioned Senator Booker’s actions and suggested it was a stunt, Booker accused him of violating the U.S. Constitution and threatened the reporter with prosecution. Yes, Booker probably is a few bricks short of a full load.
What this all shows is that someone on his staff needs to provide the Senator with new reading material. This way, when he is dreaming about the kind of super hero he would like to pretend to the world he is (and that he would like the world to celebrate that he is), he’ll get it right, and keep it closer to reality.
So no more “Spartacus” by Howard Fast for Senator Booker. There are too many words for a start.
From now on, his staff should have him read “I am Spartapuss” by Robin Price. It is something a Peter Pan will understand.