The “Extortionator”?

So, we’ve probably all heard by now that former California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has been cheating on his wife for years and even fathered a now-teenage out-of-wedlock child with an employee (if this sounds awfully familiar, you’re not having deja vu — it’s uncannily reminiscent of former senator and presidential candidate John Edwards’ extramarital escapades, which I discussed extensively on HLN in 2008, pictured to the left).  Now, if you’re a regular viewer or reader, you know how I feel about unfaithful politicians (and unfaithful people in general), but every time we get a new one, on either side of the political fence, I like to briefly recap lest anyone think there’s even a shred of partisanship on my part.  Here goes:

1)  If a politician’s spouse can’t trust him/her, then you can’t trust him/her, which means he/she is unfit to hold public office, period.  (Schwarzenegger was willing to deceive his wife, children, extended family, friends, and staff for years, so it’d be psychologically bizarre for you as a California voter to think that he’d mind deceiving you, for example, in explaining why he commuted the sentence of a convicted killer who just happened to be the son of a former California legislator.  Does anyone really still believe that had nothing to do with under-the-table politics?  For more on that story, see my post dated 1/4/11 in the January 2011 archive.)

2)  If a politician has a secret that could destroy his/her career, and there’s at least one other living person who either knows or could discover that secret, then that politician is highly susceptible to extortion, which means he/she is unfit to hold public office, period.  (Hmmm, wonder if the father of the convict whose sentence Schwarzenegger commuted just happened to know anything about Schwarzenegger’s out-of-wedlock child?  And just imagine what the mother of that child could have demanded and received from Schwarzenegger in return for her silence!)

3)  If a politician is willing to compromise his/her family’s well-being, and subject him/herself to blackmail, simply so that he/she can have sex with someone other than his/her spouse, then that politician is highly likely to be a malignant narcissist who can rationalize doing just about anything he/she wants to do (e.g. “Oh, I’m under so much pressure, I need to…” or “Oh, I’ve done so much good for the public that I deserve to…”), regardless of who gets hurt, which means his/her priorities are so misaligned that he/she is unfit to hold public office, period.  (And by the way, as a child-custody expert, when parents risk divorce by being unfaithful, and then tell me during their divorce cases that they have their children’s best interests at heart, I have a hard time buying it.)

Then I always get the question, “Why [would someone smart enough to get him/herself into such a position of power be stupid enough to do something that could cause him/her to lose it]?”  Here’s the short answer (pictured to the left, that’s me explaining it to Nancy Grace back in 2006):  A person needs to have a little narcissism in him/her to think that he/she, out of millions of citizens, is the one who should be running the state/country.  This relatively-low level of narcissism is actually advantageous in that it contributes to the self-confidence and thick skin that one needs to see a political campaign through to a successful outcome.  But once that person gets the successful outcome, he/she can start paying too much attention to his/her own propaganda, surrounding him/herself with too many sycophants, and taking advantage of the adulation and deference that he/she receives to justify behavior that he/she wouldn’t tolerate from others.  That’s malignant narcissism, and it’s never an excuse for anything!  It’s not a mental illness whereby the person loses his/her ability to discern right from wrong — it’s a conscious choice, borne of self-aggrandizement, to no longer bother to discern right from wrong where his/her behavior is concerned.

Sadly, Schwarzenegger isn’t the only politician in today’s headlines alone to which the foregoing appears to apply.  For instance, much of the above — minus the out-of-wedlock child as far as we know — unfortunately applies to presidential candidate and former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich.  But it’s not exclusive to American politicians.  The married Prime Minister of Italy, Silvio Berlusconi, is on trial for allegedly having sex with an underage prostitute, and the married head of the International Monetary Fund, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, was recently arrested while apparently attempting to flee the U.S. and now sits in a New York jail charged with sexually assaulting a hotel maid (he’s innocent until proven guilty of course, but when bail is withheld based on concerns that the defendant’s a flight risk, there’s usually some strong evidence that a crime has been committed).

And before I go, your semi-daily Casey — Anthony, that is, pictured to the left:  The slow beat of jury selection goes on.  Both sides are running low on their respective allotments of peremptory challenges, which allow them to reject a prospective juror for any reason other than demographic prejudice.  Once the peremptory challenges are all used up, a prospective juror can be rejected only for cause, i.e. reason to believe the potential juror is biased (about Anthony’s guilt/innocence and/or about the death penalty — this needs to be a “death qualified” jury, meaning that jurors need to be willing to consider the death penalty if Anthony is convicted) or physically/mentally unable to serve (particularly in light of the hardship of being sequestered for a projected six to eight weeks, maybe longer given the rate of things thus far), so the pace will likely pick up somewhat.  The judge is still saying we’ll have a jury of 12 plus several alternates selected and hear opening arguments later this week.  I’m doubting it.  Stay tuned!

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