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Obama’s 60 Minutes Interview and that Odd, Inappropriate Laughter

This morning I watched the 60 Minutes interview with President Obama that aired last night. You can read the transcript here. Part of the interview took place at the White House, with Obama discussing his schedule and how his daughters are adjusting to their new surroundings. The other part was a sit-down interview in which Steve Kroft asked Obama some questions about the economic crisis. I’m posting the first part of the interview below, along with some segments from the transcript that I’d like to discuss.

Just a personal note–I think Steve Kroft comes across as quite biased toward the Wall Street point of view throughout the interview. He expresses compassion for the unfortunate people working for the banks and thinks it’s terribly unfair to ask them to work for *only* $250,000 per year.

Your Treasury Secretary’s plan… Geithner’s plan, and— your plan really— for solving the banking crisis— was met with very, very, very tepid response. And you had a lot of people criticize… a lot of people said they didn’t understand it. A lot of people said it didn’t have any— enough details to— to— to solve the problem. I know you’re coming out with something— next week on this. But these criticisms were coming from people like Warren Buffett, people who had supported you, and you had counted as being your—

And— and— and— and Warren still does support me. But I think that understand Warren’s also a big player in the financial markets who’s a major owner of Wells Fargo. And so he’s got a perspective from the perspective of somebody who— is part owner of a bank. You’ve got members of Congress who’ve got a different perspective. Which is, “We don’t want to spend any more taxpayer money.” You’ve got— a whole host of players, all of whom may have a completely different solution. (LAUGHS) Right?

And— you know, one of the challenges that Tim Geithner— has had— is the same challenge that anybody would have in this situation.

people want a lot of contradictory things. You know, the— the— the banks would love a lot of taxpayer money with no strings attached. Folks in Congress, as well as the American people, would love to fix the banks without spending any money. (LAUGHS) And so at a certain point, you know, you’ve got just a— a very difficult line— to— to walk.

It seems to me that Obama perceives himself as someone who is trying to meet the conflicting demands of many different people; and that is certainly something that is going to happen to the President of the United States. What is missing for me is any sense that Obama sees himself as an advocate for a particular point of view. This is the thing that has bothered me about Obama from the very beginning. I just don’t get a sense of there being a real flesh-and-blood person in there beneath the polished exterior. I don’t get the feeling that he really cares about anyone or anything–except himself, of course.

In this next section, Obama says some things I can agree with–he sounds like a moderate, business-oriented Democrat–but when Kroft takes the point of view of the Wall Street crowd, Obama never really calls him on it. And although he presents arguments to counter some of what Kroft says, if you watch the tape Obama really doesn’t demonstrate any enthusiasm or passion.


Do you think that the people on Wall Street and the people in the financial community that you need trust you, believe— believe in you?


Part of my job is to communicate to them, “Look, I believe in the market. I believe in financial innovation. And I believe in success.” I want them to do well.

But what I also know is that the financial sector was out of balance. You look at how finance used to operate just 20 years ago, or 25 years ago. People, if you went into— investment banking, you were making 20 times what a teacher made. You weren’t making 200 times what a teacher made.


There is a perception right now, at least in New York, which is where I live and work….That, um, people feel they thought that you were going to be supportive.

And now I think there are a lot of people say, “Look, we’re not going to be able to keep our best people. They’re not going to stay and work here for $250,000 a year when they can go work for a hedge fund, if they can find one that’s still (LAUGHTER) working—….and make a lot more.


I’ve told them directly. ‘Cause I’ve heard some of this. they need to spend a little time outside of New York. Because— you know, if you go to North Dakota, or you go to Iowa, or you go to Arkansas, where folks would be thrilled to be making $75,000 a year— without a bonus, then I think they’d get a sense of why people are frustrated.

I think we have to understand the severity of the crisis that we’re in right now. The fact is that, because of bad bets made on Wall Street, there have been enormous losses.

I mean there were a whole bunch of folks who, on paper, if you looked at quarterly reports, were wildly successful, selling derivatives (CHUCKLE) that turned out to be….completely worthless.


And insuring them.


And insuring them. Now— you know, gosh, I don’t think it’s me being anti-Wall Street just to point out that the best and the brightest— didn’t do too well on that front, and that— you know, maybe the incentive structures that have been set up— have not produced the kinds of long term growth that— that I think everybody’s looking for.

Obama sounds almost defensive there, as if he tried to point out a few things to Geithner, Summers, and the rest, and they brushed him off and told him he sounded “anti-Wall Street.” He’s very hesitant, “gosh,” “just to point out,” as if he were a college student who had tried to point out where one of his professors had made an error.


Were you surprised at the depth of this recession when you got here? Did you know it was this bad?


I don’t think that we anticipated how steep the decline would be, particularly in employment. I mean if you look at just, you know, hundreds of thousands, now millions of jobs being shed over the course of two months— or three months, that slope is a lot steeper than anything that we’ve said— we’ve seen before.

The point I’m trying to make is that if you read the words you get a sense that there could be a little compassion for real people there; but if you listen to him talk, Obama comes off as cold and unfeeling. He just sounds like a bloodless technocrat. It’s as if he doesn’t really *get* that real people’s lives are being affected in extremely painful ways. When he talks about rising unemployment and the loss of millions of jobs, he is struck by the steepness of the slope on the charts he looked at. But where is the compassion for real people’s pain and loss? Why don’t I get any sense that he feels any responsibility for not taking swifter and more decisive action?

Why did Obama go on 60 Minutes in the first place? I thought he was making all these appearances in order to sell his budget. You’d think if he felt strongly that many Americans desperately need help because they are being turned out of their homes and losing their jobs, he would have been able to express that with a little enthusiasm. But he really can’t. He simply doesn’t have the ability to empathize with people he can’t see right in front of him–and maybe not even then. He just wants to talk about how hard it is for him and his “team,” especially Tim Geithner who doesn’t even have any deputy secretaries.

Think about it: how would Franklin Roosevelt sound if he were talking about this situation? How would John Kennedy sound? I think you’d be able to see some passion expressed in their body language and voices. They would sound excited, would lean forward to make points, would propose ways to help people who are struggling. But Obama discusses everything at the same slow, steady, relaxed pace–whether he’s talking about basketball or about people’s lives being torn apart.

The next segment is a little different. Kroft asks about Obama’s plans for the automotive industry. This is the section that people have been talking about, because of Obama’s seemingly inappropriate laughter. Even Kroft comments on it. This section begins around 13:10.


I just want to say that– the only thing less popular than putting money into banks is putting money (LAUGHS) into the auto industry. So–


18 percent are in favor.


(LAUGHS) That’s–


Seventy-six percent against.


It– it– it’s not a high number.


You’re sitting here. And you’re– you are laughing. You are laughing about some of these problems. Are people going to look at this and say, “I mean, he’s sitting there just making jokes about (LAUGHTER) money–” How do you deal with– I mean, wh– explain –




–the mood and your laughter.


Yeah, I mean, there’s got to be–


Are you punch drunk?


No, no. There’s gotta be a little gallows humor to (LAUGHS) get you through the day. You know, sometimes my team– talks about the fact that if– if you had said to us a year ago that– the least of my problems would be Iraq, which is still a pretty serious problem– I don’t think anybody would have believed it. But– but we’ve got a lot on our plate. And– a lot of difficult decisions that we’re going to have to make.

“Gallows humor to get you through the day”?? What is Obama going through that he needs gallows humor? And isn’t it the job of a leader to influence public opinion? He could change the perception of auto workers if he wanted to. All Obama has done since he became President is travel around the country making meaningless speeches, have parties on Wednesday nights, and then go to Chicago or Camp David on weekends. As far as I can tell, he isn’t even involved in what Tim Geithner is doing. How could he be? He’s so rarely at the White House. He refers to “my problems,” as if it’s all about him. And he isn’t laughing at a joke–it’s almost as if he just started giggling and couldn’t stop. What’s going on here? I’d like to get some opinions from my fellow Conflucians, and I’ll give you my reaction below.

As I have said before, I believe that Barack Obama could be diagnosed with Narcissistic Personality Disorder, although of course I can only speculate based on my observations from a distance and on what I know of his childhood. Sam Vaknin, a writer who has spent many years studying NPD and narcissists, also argued in August 2008 that the President probably suffers from NPD. According to Vaknin,

Obama displays the following behaviors, which are among the hallmarks of pathological narcissism:

Subtly misrepresents facts and expediently and opportunistically shifts positions, views, opinions, and “ideals” (e.g., about campaign finance, re-districting). These flip-flops do not cause him overt distress and are ego-syntonic (he feels justified in acting this way). Alternatively, refuses to commit to a standpoint and, in the process, evidences a lack of empathy.

Ignores data that conflict with his fantasy world, or with his inflated and grandiose self-image. This has to do with magical thinking. Obama already sees himself as president because he is firmly convinced that his dreams, thoughts, and wishes affect reality. Additionally, he denies the gap between his fantasies and his modest or limited real-life achievements (for instance, in 12 years of academic career, he hasn’t published a single scholarly paper or book).

Feels that he is above the law, incl. and especially his own laws.

Talks about himself in the 3rd person singluar or uses the regal “we” and craves to be the exclusive center of attention, even adulation.

Have [sic] a messianic-cosmic vision of himself and his life and his “mission.”

Sets ever more complex rules in a convoluted world of grandiose fantasies with its own language (jargon)

Displays false modesty and unctuous “folksiness” but unable to sustain these behaviors (the persona, or mask) for long. It slips and the true Obama is revealed: haughty, aloof, distant, and disdainful of simple folk and their lives.

Sublimates aggression and holds grudges.

Behaves as an eternal adolescent (e.g., his choice of language, youthful image he projects, demands indulgence and feels entitled to special treatment, even though his objective accomplishments do not justify it).

Vaknin says that

Narcissism is a defense mechanism whose role is to deflect hurt and trauma from the victim’s “True Self” into a “False Self” which is omnipotent, invulnerable, and omniscient. This False Self is then used by the narcissist to garner narcissistic supply from his human environment. Narcissistic supply is any form of attention, both positive and negative and it is instrumental in the regulation of the narcissist’s labile sense of self-worth.

Here’s my proposed explanation for Obama’s inappropriate laughter in the 60 Minutes interview. It comes from a powerful conflict. I think deep inside, Obama is very unsure of himself and very needy. More than anything in the world he wants to be loved and admired and looked up to. But no matter how much love and admiration he gets, it’s never enough to fill the hole inside him.

Although Obama loves the adulation he receives from the crowds at his appearances and speeches, what he needs even more is the approval of the wealthy ruling class types he is hanging around with now. Those huge crowds of people aren’t real to him once they’re not right in front of him anymore. What matters is what people like Tim Geithner and Larry Summers and Henry Paulson think of him–just like it used to matter what people like Bill Ayers and Bernadine Dohn thought of him when he was in Chicago.

It doesn’t matter what these people stand for, or what their political ideologies are. It just matters that they are rich and powerful people who can make Barack Obama even more rich and powerful. I don’t know exactly why this is so. Perhaps it is because his mother and stepfather worked in the worlds of big business and foundations. But clearly these are the kinds of people Obama wants to be loved by–leaving aside the fact that they are the source of his financial support.

At the same time, Obama knows on an intellectual (not emotional) level that people are suffering because of his policies; he may even be afraid that those great masses of people won’t like him anymore because of his pro-Wall Street policies. He knows that if the automotive companies go out of business it will hurt millions of ordinary Americans–assembly line workers, people who work in auto parts factories, car dealers, auto parts dealers, mechanics, and on and on. But he can’t really empathize with them–it’s just a surface, intellectual understanding.

So he has a conflict between what intellectually he knows would be the best thing to do–save jobs–and what his Wall Street supporters and advisors want him to do. He knows his actions are hurting people; and he knows in the end he could be hurting his chances for a successful presidency. I think that’s where the odd, inappropriate, somewhat ironic sounding laughter comes from–that conflict from wishing to be a hero to the masses and at the same time wanting to please the wealthy elites. These wealthy, powerful people–the advisors that someone told him to hire–don’t think ordinary working class Americans deserve a break. So he can’t give them a break. He knows intellectually that if just this once he stood up for the little guy he could be a hero, he won’t do it.

Even if deep in his gut, he knows he could be destroying his own presidency by listening to his Wall Street advisors, as David Michael Green recently wrote, Barack Obama will not stand up for any principle. The only principle he has is advancing himself. He can mouth the words that make him sound like a liberal or a conservative or a “New Democrat,” but he doesn’t feel any obligation to follow through on any of those words. The words are just a way of getting the attention and adulation and admiration he craves from the “right” people. They aren’t going to let him be a hero and get the adulation of the masses for saving the U.S. economy. Instead he’s going to save the bankers.

110 Responses

  1. I watched the bit where he got asked if he was punch-drunk (I don’t have it in me to watch all of it, dear gawd) and he seemed to me to be someone who was BS’ing.
    You know those end of year reviews that one goes through with one’s boss and the boss brings up all the stuff one has flubbed and one tries to deflect it by laughing and being charmingly chagrined? That kind of BS.

    • I put the time up there. Just watch that part again. It starts around 13:10.

    • I think he is just stoned – you know, all those trips to Hawaii….


      And, yes, I am shouting.

  2. Obama IS too busy running around the country, taking vacations that certainly aren’t warranted in these tough times, and continuously takes over the airwaves.
    I am sick to death of seeing this fraud, he cares nothing about the “common folk” in Iowa or anywhere else. Somebody had to tell him there were “commoners” in Iowa.
    He needs to keep his ass in Washington and do a little work, if he would have given every American a million dollars instead of the banks, our economy would certainly have picked up, but then we need a middle and lower class for some damn reason, I guess so people like Obama can look down from his throne at the “rest of us”.
    How much longer must we endure this fraud? Please, I need to know, how much longer must I endure this farce of a presidency and we can get on with the real running of our country?
    This is only the beginning, has Obama retained his bots, or are they jumping ship as we write?
    What bots, did you really think Obama was going to cut you a big fat check for intimidating voters? Did you?
    He played you like a fiddle didnt he? Boo Fu**ing Hoo!

  3. Interesting and devastating post, bb. Devastating in that this is OUR Dear Reader. In order to feed his craving for attention and adulation, he will seek out and try to make connection with the people occupying the highest status in whatever realm he inhabits at the moment. This is why Brown received so little attention.

    In policy it seems he is seeking a consensus, rather than the most effective plan. I guess this is what’s meant by governing by committee.

    My frustration with Jimmy Carter was that he seemed to change direction with each poll. As a populist, he tried to do the will of the people. Then I was frustrated by Reagan who took a position and stuck to it. He was effective, but in ways I didn’t want him to be.

    Obama seems to want to do the “pleasing” that you outline. He won’t choose a course and take the consequences or assess the results. He always wants to be free of responsibility unless it brings him adulation.

    • Purplefinn,

      I felt that his laughter came from frustration. Because he would like to be a hero to the people–if only doing what the bankers wanted would make that wish come true. It’s the same problem he has with trying to please Republicans. He fantasizes that he can magically turn the Republicans into the kind of people who will support his policies. Then when they don’t do it, he adjusts the policies.

      He wanted to be president and he got there by letting these people buy him. Now he’ll have to make any policy adjustments they want him to. He should be impeached.

      • He should be impeached. On this we can agree. His is a very untrustworthy and shaky character, whether he has NPD or is a true sociopath whose mask may slip.

        The nation is not quite safe with Obama as president.

        • Read Evil Genes. The author identifies what she calls the machiavellian personality, and it fits to a T with both Obama and Bush.

      • I don’t honestly think he expects anything from himself. He expects the people who promised him the moon if he would be their puppet to do whatever it takes to keep him in rockstar mode.

        He thinks he is so great with words that all he has to do is hit that magical chain of sounds to make people want to have a beer with him and wish him nothing but the best as he works to improve his bowling score, supervises the selection of basketball hoops and makes sure there’s a non-stop flow of whatever it is that keeps his lips blue.

        He so clearly sees no crisis in the economic system that I am beginning to think we can all take this as a big clue the joke is on us. As instant as the crisis surfaced, we can be sure the outcome will be whatever the bankers want it to be so they have our money and Obama has our love.

    • It seems that he has another really strong need, which you mentioned, to have everyone agree with everyone else–or at least get along as if they did.

      • He wants to be the bringer of peace but is unwilling and unable to do the work. He also doesn’t understand that brokering peace or agreement between different sides is ever a maintenance position, not something achieved once and left alone. But he’s never displayed the ability to work at something for long so I don’t think he gets that.

      • I agree with this in part– he has this facade of wanting people to get along (r agree) as you say, perhaps because he grew up in a disjointed family. But he could only survive in this environment by playing each side (or indiv) off each other. To me it’s like the person in the family who always wants to offer an ear to your problems but then is blabbing them to everyone else in order to make themselves appear important, same thing with being the “peacemaker” in the family. A true peacemaker facilitates conversation — Obama does the exact opposite.

        I feel that his laughter is more a nervousness that he is being found out. That comment about “gallows humor” was so insulting I just about spit on my computer screen.

        When is he going to get the F**k off TV and start working. He and his 300 advisers should have KNOWN that the economy was going down no matter the slope of decent. As always, great comments BB.

        • I agree with that Fembots. He is very manipulative. When he says he wants consensus, what he really means is he will try to manipulate everyone into agreeing to do what he wants. Somehow I don’t think that is going to work very well–with Congress or in foreign affairs.

        • One of the first traits about Obama that became apparent to me was his chameleon like nature. He has a tendency to try to fit in with and reflect the values, vocabulary, mannerisms etc. of what ever group he’s speaking with (as evidenced by the various speaking styles he used in his town hall’s throughout the primaries).

          • He’s just the Pied Piper who has been tasked with leading the people to the spot where no one can hear them scream.

  4. Don’t you know…people who formerly saw the American Dream as a real possibility eating out of dumpsters is, well, you know…funny.

    • Yeah, right. But see it’s about how hard it is for Obama and Tim Geithner–that’s the real agony.

    • I seriously saw a man digging in a dumpster outside my daughter’s school this afternoon. And I did nothing. That bothers me.

  5. Yeah, this is the hope and change we’ve been waiting for.

    “LOL Ha ha ha those poor people, ha ha giggle, they are so sad smirk, giggle giggle, just a little gallows humor, giggle giggle”


    • Let’s keep in mind that people were sent to the gallows because they couldn’t pay off their debts in Dickens time.

  6. I haven’t seen the interview, because I have the same feeling watching Obama that I felt watching George Bush–I just can’t stand to even look at the guy. Having admitted that, nothing that you’ve said here, BB, surprises me. From the time that I first learned of his childhood background, I knew that we were looking at another individual running for President who had a huge chip on his shoulder and seemed desperate to prove something. He reminds me a lot of the male version of Princess Diana, except that she decided to use her celebrity to actually do some good, such as fighting AIDs stereotypes and working to ban land mines. He just wants to use his celebrity to get back at people, IMO–all those perceived injustices going back to basically being deserted by both his mother and his father.

    • This is the first time I’ve ever been able to watch one of his appearances and stay somewhat detached. I know I’m still biased, but at least I was able to step back a bit and not feel anger. I just tried to examine his affect somewhat objectively.

  7. Great Post.

    Admittedly, its impossible to diagnose anyone based on television appearances, but I do agree with many of the observations you made. At times he does seem to have an odd detachment towards the hardships others are experiencing, as evidenced by his inappropriate laughter (he’s more concerned with his need for levity than in showing compassion for those Americans who are faced with financial ruin). For that reason, he may actually find the burdens of the presidency easier to handle than many former occupants of the White House (although we may suffer).

    In addition to the detachment, there is the ever present condescension. Does he really think that the masses don’t realize that they and the corporate elite have different agendas or want different things from him? Does he think that no one has ever picked up on or recognized these conflicting interests before?

    Another thing that bothered me was when he said that Iraq has a much better educated population than Afghanistan. Now, it may be true, yet it seemed such an insulting or hurtful thing to say about the people of Afghanistan (who’ve experienced war for decades on end).

    I also picked up on the interviewer’s pro Wall Street stance, and believe that that attitude along with the recent negative turn in the main stream media may just be the power brokers letting him know who’s really in charge (to prevent him from using his popularity to side with what’s best for the average American). The media may just be reminding him that they made him, and that they could just as easily destroy him.

    • Great comment, Sam. The NYT and WP are also obviously on the bankers’ side. Obama doesn’t have the guts to stand up to the powerful, but he wouldn’t anyway. I really think he has NPD, and there’s no depth to him at all. He can’t feel for anyone except on a very surface level, and only if he is trying to get something for himself.

      • I think you can also see his lack of depth in how he deals with his family, especially the girls. He doesn’t show them any warmth, and when Michelle and him were dancing at one of the many inaug balls it was more like playacting to me.

  8. During the primary I kept asking Obama supporters what he was passionate about. I begged them to give me one thing about which Obama cared deeply. One thing for which he would go to the mat. I never got a single answer.

    After the primary I tried to look in my heart and find one thing about which Obama was passionate. Just one thing. I wanted to vote for him – I really did. Finally, I could not.

    You know, during the Clinton administration they called Colin Powell The Sponge because he was known to have no core values – he just soaked up the views of his handlers. Obama is The New Sponge.

    • Dee,

      I did the same thing! I asked so many Obots “What does he believe in? What will he stand and fight for?” I never got an answer. I didn’t know that about Colin Powell, but I’m not surprised.

      • I am not certain but I think it was Madeleine Albright who first dubbed him The Sponge (behind his back of course). Madeleine and The Sponge had some serious knock-down drag out disagreements.

        BTW – the nickname given to her by her staff was The Hummingbird or The Hummer – so little and all of that energy. They had to double staff her (day and night) because of her energy level.

        • Trying–to resist–making stale Clinton Admin joke–must resist–must resist…

          I thought Monica was The Hummer. :mrgreen:

          I weakened; please forgive me.

  9. bostonboomer: great post. You are so good at these analytical posts.

    I saw part of the interview last night and some snippets today. I, too, was struck by his relaxed, careless demeanor. His body language was all wrong for the situation. I agree that an FDR or a JFK –or a Clinton — would have shown more animation, passion, and empathy, in body language and facial expression. The laughter was especially inappropriate and revealing. I think you may be right that it wasn’t callous laughter (though it sure appeared that way) but something deeper that could be related to an internal conflict or insecurity/fear.

    I think this Kroft quote says a lot: “There is a perception right now, at least in New York, which is where I live and work….That, um, people feel they thought that you were going to be supportive.” Bingo! That’s what we’ve been saying all along. There was some sort of quid pro quo, whether explicit or implicit, behind Wall Street’s support of Obama.

    • Yes, that quote was so telling! Wall Street thought Obama would be supportive. How could he be more supportive? The fact that our media “stars” are hanging with the Wall Street crowd is just one more reason not to listen to them at all.

      • I once thought the media stars were mere high-ranking servants of the elite, but I now see that they are members in good standing of that elite.

  10. “He wanted to be president and he got there by letting these people buy him. Now he’ll have to make any policy adjustments they want him to. He should be impeached.”
    And Larry Summers is in the WH to protect the “buyers” investment. Summers was Geithner’s mentor during their years together in the Clinton treasury dept.: IMO that relationship is still in effect…Tim is Larry’s sock puppet.

    Ron Wyden wasn’t shy about naming who was putting pressure to change the Snowe-Wyden Amendment….Summers and Geithjner..in that order.

  11. I have a comment in moderation at 5:29. Can’t figure out why. Please help and release.

  12. Don’t you remember Obama’s Bataan Death March comment when Hillary didn’t get out of his way fast enough? He was exhausted during the primaries. Of course he needs “gallows” humor to get through our bad economy because it is going to be way too tiring for him otherwise. Yes the guy is interested only in himself. There was a photo of him in a meeting with his crack economics team and he was sitting with his head back totally freaking bored with it all. Grandiose is right.

    Hillary said during the campaign that with Bush we were on our own.Sadly the working backbone of this country is left with someone who most certainly does not feel their pain.His comments about the special olympics, uneducated Afghans, bitter gun toters, etc indicate that he must project superiority to others.

    • Yes I do remember it. Most of the voters wanted the Campaign to go on until there was a clear winner. Obama had already been guaranteed the win. He just wanted it to be over. The funny thing is he acted the same way in the General Election–like he knew he would win and why did he have to trouble himself with McCain/Palin. Why didn’t they just hand it to him?

      • Now that BB mentions, he always did seem sure of the outcome–why, I wonder?

        *dons stylish chapeau de Reynolds Wrap*

        Maybe he knew this time the unaccountable electronic voting machines would be set to “D” instead of “R” ?

        • LOL! I think Obama was told before he even ran for Senate that he had been picked by the powers that be. Call me crazy. That doesn’t mean he couldn’t have lost, but the DNC did pull out all the stops, didn’t they?

    • The disturbing thing about that Bataan Death March comment, to me, was that I think it was sincere. Same as his laughter here.

      No, hear me out. I have known some narcissistic and seriously effed-up people in my long life. They see themselves as compassionate. They see themselves as ALL good and positive things, in fact. They are not “selfish” in the usual sense of the word. Garden-variety, mean selfishness is what Cheney has. Narcissists are different. It’s not that they “get it”, then make a conscious choice to say “eff you, I got mine” to the rest of the world. They honestly don’t perceive or connect with others, or they only do insofar as those others relate to propping up their relentlessly positive image of themselves.

      When they tell you something that is batshit crazy on the face of it, they are not appearing sincere because they are good liars, they are really truly believing what they tell you, even if it’s a bald-faced lie. That’s what makes them so difficult to deal with. They are not lying in the usual sense, because their inner reality IS reality to them, regardless of what the truth of their actions is.

      They THINK they are good and caring people, and get genuinely puzzled and unnerved when aspersions are cast on that notion. Their need for the opinions of others to match their own skewed view of themselves is desperate, and they get panicky when they can’t reconcile the two.

      • He really was exhausted, and in his inner universe, his own suffering (however minor), IS on the noble level of Bataan. He wasn’t being cold and flippant, that was SINCERE.

        • Cheney is OBAMA’S COUSIN.

          Need we say more??

        • I completely agree with you on this wmcb. He lives in his own reality. If you try to “reason” with this personality you end up talking in circles until you question your own sanity! That is what is so scary to me about Obama, he appears to most reasonable and rational, but he is anything but.

      • I totally agree with you. That’s why I said if his advisors let him he would like to be the hero of the working class. But he only wants that because of what it would do for him. There’s just no depth to him at all. It’s eerie.

        But I always wonder–what makes us see it and so many others fall under the spell? I saw it the first time I started to do my research on him back at the end of 2007.

        WMCB wrote:

        “They THINK they are good and caring people, and get genuinely puzzled and unnerved when aspersions are cast on that notion. Their need for the opinions of others to match their own skewed view of themselves is desperate, and they get panicky when they can’t reconcile the two.”

        That’s perfect! That is exactly what I thought was happening when I saw him laugh the way he did.

        • ‘But I always wonder–what makes us see it and so many others fall under the spell? ‘

          Well, here is a perfect idea for a post, find an 0bama
          supporter to co-write a Why? Why Not? piece.
          Of course I mean a rational supporter.
          oh, never mind.

      • Bingo! WMCB – I listened to a bit of it and was struck by the thought that “Gawd, this guy eventually began to believe all the lies and now is unable to detach from his ‘ability’ to deliver on them”

        He’s confused to some degree yet he remains focused as you point out on delivering what he believes – even though it is a lie.

        He’s starting to realize that the “house of cards” he’s built is going to come crashing down around him pretty soon and it’s a case of – every once in a while – the thought of “how much longer can we keep this up” peeks it’s nose out at him.

        Really scary, as someone here pointed out above that this is they guy supposedly running things.

      • His Bataan Death March comment was because he was with Richardson and the charitable march commemorating the real march was about to take place. He was just showing his ignorance by trying to show his knowledge. He had no idea what that real march was all about, but having just learned of it he was attempting to show off his vast knowledge.

        Most of his insensitive “jokes” are a huge display of his disdain for people in general. If you can’t help him, you’re a waste of space.

        • myrlquigley: “If you can’t help him, you’re a waste of space.”

          So true!!

  13. I did find something on the tape that I agreed with when he said, “I fundamentally disagree with Dick Cheney.” And I agree with the reasons he outlined.

    On the whole I do often agree with his stance on an issue. What’s missing is a call to action. He is not convincing in pointing to a direction to take or a challenge to meet. It is the “detachment” (bb), the “relaxed, careless demeanor” (jules) instead of outlining a clear direction, call to action, and follow through. I know, I know, it was Hillary who had a plan.

    • I often agree with things that Obama says, but I know from experience that he won’t follow through. So why bother listening to him in the first place?

    • Purplefinn,

      Doesn’t it seem that he thinks it’s not his job to come up with the solutions or to convince anyone of what the right choice is? He sees himself as just the salesman for whatever his advisors or the Congress come up with. He could change public opinion about the auto workers if he wanted to. But he just doesn’t see that as his responsibility.

      • “He sees himself as just the salesman for whatever his advisors or the Congress come up with.” Rings true.

        • Bush was a salesman too, but at least he had an ideology–a horrible, cruel ideology, but he actually believed in something.

          • Yep. Bush actually had a moral compass – though his often pointed to due north of malevolence. 0bama simply doesn’t have one. He’s the Hollow Man.

  14. Some of the explanation resides in his disconnect from emotions and his desire to be the ubercool dude he thinks he is
    But I disagree with you that he doesn’t advocate for any side – although he is trying to give that perception. When he drooled over Reagan, he also said he admires some GOP ideas, such as deregulation. I never heard him walk that one back. His intention to protect the Wall Street CEOs who are stealing our tax moneys is also becoming quite clear.
    He’s dancing with them who brung him, and that’s not the small donors.

    • I didn’t think I said that he doesn’t advocate for any side. I said he will advocate for any side that he has to–because he has no core values. I do think he bought into the privatization stuff in Chicago, but I think that is more about getting money for himself and his backers than ideology.

  15. BB:

    Great post!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    I can’t even comment – except amen to all of it!

    Our country is in the hands of a sociopath (although we KNEW this since the beginning of the primaries), and will do nothing for the common good of this country.

  16. I also see that laugh as wither a) a nervous type of laugh, or b) he’s Marquis de Sade reincarnated.

    “Gallows” humor at the expense of hard working Americans is not “humor.”

    • LOL! I think he really is a very insecure person. The hauty demeanor and condescending speech patterns are a false self, as Vaknin says.

      • Yep. Of course he’s insecure. But now WE the PEOPLE have to pay for it.

        Wasn’t Bush 2.0 enough psycho-drama for this country?

  17. BostonBoomer — this is a great post. I saw that interview and you covered it well. His reactions are bizarre.

    • It really is strange and fascinating. And the fact that Steve Kroft called attention to it is interesting too. They could have chosen to leave that segment on the cutting room floor, but they showed. Slowly, people are waking up to who Obama really is.

      • “punch-drunk” doesn’t describe Obama’s giggles.

        How about sadistic and crazy??? Yeah, that works for me.

        • It was a wonderful post and analysis, bb. I agreed with most of it, but I agree with sm about the laughter. I really tried to be objective in interpreting him, but I kept being reminded of a young kid, doing something he knew he shouldn’t and that he knew wasn’t funny (maybe teasing a younger sibling) and not being able to contain his laughter. He just couldn’t stop laughing. And it seemed sadistic.

          I think he was also laughing at the irony of people’s approval, but I think
          mostly there was sadistic enjoyment. And I agree with the NPD assessment. He has no empathy.. That’s been evident for a long time.

          And I think he should be insecure, and maybe some level knows he’s not up to the job, but mostly he’s arrogant and grandiose, believes he’s so much better than he is.

          What’s interesting is that media is beginning to pick up on it. I’ve been wondering for a long time how people don’t see this. He always has seemed to me to be a totally fake person.

  18. The one good thing that came out of this interview…he came up against someone who would not bow down to him. Maybe that it what threw obama off. He is not accustomed to someone not kissing his feet.

  19. Here is what I know about Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton. All three of them are so passionate and caring about others that they would move into a double-wide in Arkansas if it meant health care for everyone or educational opportunies for all or even a decent living wage for everyone.

    Hell, they would probably live in a tent if they could get all three of the above.

  20. I didn’t watch the interview either, but found this part to be typical Obama:

    STEVE KROFT:What is the most frustrating part of the job?


    (SIGH) The– the fact that– you are often confronted with bad choices that flow from less than optimal decisions made a year ago, two years ago, five years ago, when you weren’t here. A lot of times, when things land at my desk– it’s a choice between bad and worse. And as somebody pointed out to me– the only things that land on my desk are tough decisions. Because, if they were easy decisions, somebody down the food chain’s already made them.”

    • Wow! Presidenting is hard! hard work!

    • Also…”down the food chain”? Ya mean, those invertebrates which didn’t get to be POTUS?

    • And as somebody pointed out to me– the only things that land on my desk are tough decisions. Because, if they were easy decisions, somebody down the food chain’s already made them.”

      No true leader of of any country would EVER say that.

      They would’ve said:

      “The most frustrating part of the job is that the crisis affecting our nation can’t be resolved sooner enough. I took the oath to uphold the Constitution and fix the problems our previous administration left. I took on this responsibility with the intent of fixing our nation and that is what I plan to do every day that I am in office.

      • Bla bla bla….Even if he said the right thing it would be just words….

        • I wonder how Rahm likes being referred to as “lower down the food chain?”

    • “less than optimal”

      See that’s what I mean. He has no passion whatsoever! I’ll bet when he’s in bed with Michelle he sighs like that.

      ” (sigh) That was a less than optimal experience. It felt like the Bataan Death March”

    • Another steal from Hillary. When she said something very similar, his supporters thought she was being too self congratulatory.
      Although she did not insult those of us ‘down the food chain”

    • And as somebody pointed out to me– the only things that land on my desk are tough decisions.

      Now what in the fuggedy fu_K did he think presidenting was all about???

      Picking out a dog as the white House pet?

      Oh wait….

    • “decisions made a year ago, two years ago…when you weren’t here.”

      No — you were in the Senate, or supposed to be, and were enabling that sh!t.

      And what’s such a bloody hard decision about whether to do something good for (A) the average worker — or (B) the average CEO?

    • “it’s not my fault” and “I am more important than everyone else” is what I read in his comments.
      Now who the hell refers to themself as at the top of the food chain.
      What an arrogant ass.

  21. […] on this disconnect in Bostonboomer’s post at the Confluence Here’s my proposed explanation for Obama’s inappropriate laughter in the 60 Minutes interview. […]

  22. OT, but here’s a spot of humor: My 2-year-old granddaughter has taken to “reading”. Not just her books with pictures, but my own books, the older kids books, etc. She sits down, opens it up, runs her fingers along the text, and “reads” it to herself.

    So today she was doing this, and I went over to take a gander at what book she had. It was The Zombie Survival Guide: Complete Protection From the Living Dead

    Ummm…coincidence, or does the 2-year-old know something about the economy? :-O

    • That’s so cute. And it’s a good sign for her future academic achievement too. I have that book–nice choice!

      • I’m a book fiend and obsessive bookworm. I have (no lie) thousands of books, so she WILL be a reader if Nana has anything to do with it.

  23. ok some one clean up this pile of poop!

    • BB thanks for attending to that LLBean needs to have a house drop on him!

  24. Wow, my eyes hurt from all those caps. Why do people feel the need to shout?

  25. BB, Kbird, please KEEP this troll post.

    It’s more proof at their delusion.

    BTW, troll, BB is a psychologist.

  26. some one up thread said Obama was a “chameleon” just what we need “Zelig” for president…..

    A Woody Allen Film come to life….and it aint no funnier than on the screen!

    Pat my vomit bucket please!

  27. When I first took it upon myself to learn about Obama’s background, my overwhelming sense was that everything about this man is a fraud, including his embrace of Christianity, which I saw as nothing more than a craven attempt to garner the support of black church members in Chicago. More recently, however, I have wondered if he is in fact “sincere” in his beliefs, the church being just another way he attempts to fill that empty hole he constantly needs to fill.

    BB, how do you think his conversion to Christianity as an adult fits into the NPD theory?

    • Nell,

      I don’t believe for one minute that Obama is actually sincere about his supposed religion. He joined Trinity Church in order to help his political career. Now he’s hanging with right wing evangelical preachers for the same reason.

      • Thanks, BB. That he embraced Christianity and joined Trinity Church for purely political reasons has always been my opinion, too, but your post got me thinking that, on some level, he needs to believe that he’s a Christian to fill the void left by the abandonment he experienced in his childhood.

        Sheesh, listen to me, will ya? I have no business pontificating on this stuff! And there are so many smart lawyers here, the last thing you all need is another one!

    • Obama joined TUCC for political purposes. Wright is an influential leader in Chicago.

      Obama used them.

  28. Aw shucks, while I was posting I missed a ‘bot! I love to read ’em before you delete ’em. 🙂

  29. Is Dakinikat around to explain this latest surge in the market? I just read Krugman’s latest piece stating that Obama’s plan is doomed to failure, and then later today, read this. PK feels this plan is woefully inadequate and flawed, but these investors are inspired. Was’ up?

    Stocks surge on bank plan, rise in home sales

    Analysts who have seen the market’s recent false starts are still hesitant to say Wall Street is indeed recovering from the collapse that began last fall. But the day’s banking and housing news bolstered the growing belief that the economy is starting to heal, and that is what had investors buying.

    “It’s just hard to argue that there isn’t an improvement in economic activity on the horizon,” said Jim Dunigan, executive vice president at PNC Wealth Management.

    The market began turning around two weeks ago on news that Citigroup Inc. was operating at a profit in January and February. A spate of more upbeat economic reports helped the market build on its gains, although the rally stalled last Thursday and Friday.

    Investors had been largely disappointed in the government’s efforts to date to restore the banks to health, but finally seemed encouraged by the long-awaited announcement of details for the bad loan cleanup plan.

    “The actions that we’re getting from a policy standpoint are very helpful in removing the sand from the gears,” said Alan Gayle, senior investment strategist at RidgeWorth Investments. “That is going to be good for the financials.”


    • Fif,

      The market has gone up because they now know that that are getting everything they wanted from the Geithner and Obama with almost no restrictions. I’d like to heard what Dakinikat has to say too.

      • Yes! I’ve been waiting all day to read something about this. All the herald angels are singing that the market is up and Geitner is a success. Can’t believe it, no way. Something’s up.

        • Gamblers at the Bellagio knowing that the house is going to throw things at their favor.

          It’s SICK!!!!!!!!!

  30. BB – this is just the best analysis I’ve read – I loved reading it – learned and felt the passion you were feeling writing it.

    Thank you so much. 😀

  31. New post up.

  32. Haven’t read all the comments yet, but just wanted to say….brilliant post, bostonboomer! Right on! I’m saving this!

  33. The hysterical laughter came when he started to discuss the auto industry.

    Wasn’t Detroit the same town where he put off the reporter (Peggy Agar) who asked about the auto industry by calling her “sweetie”?

    “What’s good for General Motors is good for… a laugh”?

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