The One’s Speech: A Display of Malignant Narcissism

By Amber Pawlik

Today, President Barack Obama finally released the text of his planned speech to school children, just one day before he gives the speech. Giving out the text of the speech just one day before is convenient for the Obama administration. It gives them the ability to say they released the text so that parents could judge it for themselves. But it gives very little time for analysts to put together criticism of it. Criticism is something the Obama administration notoriously cannot handle. And criticism is what it needs as it is a very feel good speech, meant to fly under most parents’ radar, but has very carefully placed agendas in it.

The first notable thing about the speech is it is just plain narcissistic. By the third paragraph of the speech, Obama is already talking about himself growing up in Indonesia. This paragraph, “Now I’ve given a lot of speeches about education. And I’ve talked a lot about responsibility,” is just bursting with narcissism. The next two paragraphs after that both start with the word, “I’ve.” Not to let up, later on in the speech, Obama talks about his father leaving his family when he was little. Why does this kind of drama need to be presented to school children?

The underlying tenor of the speech seems to be Obama saying, “Hey guys, I know school sucks, but try hang in there OK?” The speech is obviously aimed mostly at students who have discipline problems or who don’t do well at school. He is obviously addressing it to students with discipline problems when he says,

But at the end of the day, the circumstances of your life – what you look like, where you come from, how much money you have, what you’ve got going on at home – that’s no excuse for neglecting your homework or having a bad attitude That’s no excuse for talking back to your teacher, or cutting class, or dropping out of school. That’s no excuse for not trying.”

In order to inspire these children, who have bad attitudes and talk back to teachers, he entices them with things like, “Maybe you could be a good writer … [good] enough to write a book … Maybe you could be an innovator … Maybe you could be a mayor or Senator …” He also suggests they could find the cure for AIDS or be like the people who put a man on the moon. He flatters said students by reminding them that Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team. 

I don’t want to sound like a dream killer, but isn’t this a little pretentious? Do these children have to be the next to put a man on the moon? Isn’t becoming a stable, financially secure adult enough? Particularly since, apparently, we can’t even get the students to not cut class?

This is a major problem in our country right now: we are way too pretentious. Every child in American schools is told they must go to college. But college isn’t right for a lot of children. Some are better off going to vocational school or getting Associate’s degrees or the like. These jobs aren’t to be looked down upon. I would propose that no one who earns money by honest means should ever be looked down upon. The result is that many young adults aren’t getting any training or education now since college is too much for them but the “lesser” forms of education are supposedly not good enough for them. The result is they are often dependents well into adulthood. Obama feeds this by dangling really high goals in front of these students—which require a lot more to attain than just not cutting class.

Obama directly addresses students telling them it is their responsibility to behave better.

But at the end of the day, we can have the most dedicated teachers, the most supportive parents, and the best schools in the world – and none of it will matter unless all of you fulfill your responsibilities. Unless you show up to those schools; pay attention to those teachers; listen to your parents, grandparents and other adults; and put in the hard work it takes to succeed.”

I find this just a little bit odd. I would propose that a lack of discipline of students is primarily the problem for parents and teachers to figure out. “Yes, kid, you need to learn to tie your shoes yourself. If you don’t get motivated to do it, you might have become the next Bill Gates but you’ll never know now!!” What is the need for Obama to directly target these students and lecture them? Why directly single out these types of children, such as ones who are like him and did not know their fathers, and talk to them? I would propose the reasons are much more sinister than just wanting them to do well. The left is always interested in abused children and targeting them to be used for political causes. They can take that hurt and abuse and direct it where they want. See my article, Manufacturing Campus Radicals.

As for the students who do well in school, Obama has an (implicit) message for them too. They are not to become successful just for themselves; they need to help out their communities.

“You’ll need the knowledge and problem-solving skills you learn in science and math to cure diseases like cancer and AIDS, and to develop new energy technologies and protect our environment. You’ll need the insights and critical thinking skills you gain in history and social studies to fight poverty and homelessness, crime and discrimination, and make our nation more fair and more free. You’ll need the creativity and ingenuity you develop in all your classes to build new companies that will create new jobs and boost our economy.” 

Here we see how Obama sees American people: as a means to an end. And he wants to get that message to students while still impressionable. The community activities that he wants the smart students to engage in are conveniently all the ones on his agenda: curing AIDS, protecting the environment, fighting homelessness and discrimination and making our country more “fair.” What happened to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness?

The speech is a total display of malignant narcissism. Not only does Obama talk about himself excessively, the speech seems to be aimed at students who probably remind him of himself when he was young and encourages those students to be like, well, himself. Asking students to help out their community is asking them to follow his foot steps—he being a self-described “community organizer.” But more importantly, directing the speech to the students with discipline problems and telling them that they, too, could become the next Michael Jordan or inventor of the iPod is encouraging the President’s one enduring trait: utter pretentiousness. A malignant narcissist is one who is troubled somehow but instead of deciding they need to change, they want to change the world to be like them. This speech was that: its purpose to turn students into pretentious, community-minded, liberal mini-Obamas.

Amber Pawlik

September 7, 2009