Does This Sound Like Anyone You Know?

So, there's a new biography of an angry, cocky, explosive political figure who for all his seemingly disgusting characteristics was amazingly popular even with those who would normally not agree with him.

[He] "found it impossible to debate any issue. He would state his views and then lose his temper if he was systematically questioned or criticized," and was "the least likely person in the world to change his mind on any issue he thought was important." [He] specialized in "screams, tantrums, rapid changes of mood, sulks."

Rees notes, however, that the "overconfidence" implicit in such behavior was widely "perceived as a mark of genius" and persuaded millions-in part because [he] made "in an extreme form" arguments already in the minds of his ... listeners. Was that not a canny use of reason? [He] understood, says Rees, that it's smart to present oneself as "infallible." [He] may also have thought it effective to appear volatile. Rees writes that [he]  rooted his hatreds in "an emotionality that was given such free rein as to appear out of control. The ability to feel events emotionally and to demonstrate that emotion to others was a crucial part of his charismatic appeal."

... [L]isteners, according to Rees, thought of [him] as someone who spoke with "conviction" and an "absolute certainty" that they liked.

When I read this I immediately thought of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, as this description is pretty much a dead on painting of the man.

I'm often amazed Christie has such high popularity when he is a bully, often gross in his reactions, abusive to anyone contradicting him and his public record - high unemployment, property taxes still going up, trying to pack the courts, etc. - is so abjectly terrible.

I considered not writing this because of who the original is about, and I'm not comparing Christie to the person described above because that person is one of the most heinous in history and I don't believe any of that could happen here or that Christie would ever want any of it.  

But this is just an exercise in how a politician's gross and exaggerated bad behavior can be attractive to a large swath of the politician.

If you haven't already figured out who it's about, visit The Dish.

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