Narcissism – “Excessive self-admiration”; “overestimation of [one’s] abilities and an excessive need for admiration.”
Megalomania – “An excessive enjoyment in having power over other people and a craving for more of it.” “Delusions of great power and importance.”
A healthy ego is one thing. But there is a classic joke that speaks to the egomania of some, a variation of which may go something like this. Perry Christie and God are out for a walk, with Christie hailing onlookers. One of the onlookers hails back and asks, “Who’s that fellow walking with Christie?”
This would be funny if it did not speak to a certain troubling mindset at the heart of government, with the prime minister narcissistically seemingly unable to accept responsibility for his failures or to internalize certain criticisms and make the necessary changes.
He is perpetually passing the buck as if his failures are usually the fault of others. He basically blamed the failed mortgage relief programs on officials in the Ministry of Finance. Never mind that he is the Minister of Finance. He threw his officials under the bus for this spectacular failure.
Recall this split personality excuse for the mismanaged VAT roll-out:
“The Minister of Finance wants to go ahead with VAT as indicated, all of the mechanisms are in place for VAT to move forward, that is the Minister of Finance, but you are talking to the Prime Minister and the Prime Minister will hear you and the Prime Minister has not joined with the Minister of Finance.”
The excuses and the blame game by Christie seem to know few bounds. Despite his party’s bold promises on crime yet failures and delay in instituting certain promised responses, Christie also decided to throw the leadership of the police force under the bus:
“I said to the Minister of National Security, I’m not prepared to have my own legacy, my own reputation, be tied to a total reliance on the Royal Bahamas Police Force and to the leadership of that force.”
“My own legacy, my own reputation”? Innocent people are being killed and people are terrified and distraught, and Christie is worrying about his legacy? What a stunningly self-absorbed statement. Message to the police from Christie: You’re making me look bad.
The country is probably in its worse shape since the drug-plagued 1980s. The majority of Bahamians seem exasperated by Christie’s endless blather and nonsensical talk, exhausted by his endless empty performances, like his recent disjointed press briefing
Yet, as if in some parallel universe and a la-la-land of his own design, Christie continues to barnstorm the country and take to the airwaves painting a rosy picture of things to come, things which usually seem still somewhere over the rainbow, far, far away.
Christie’s full-blown egomania has resulted in all manner of grandiosity and pomposity. He keeps audiences waiting. He continues to speak in the most overwrought manner, typically with little of substance, yet laced with anecdotes of his self-importance.
To a group of children from the Centreville urban renewal program, the prime minister’s egomania and conceit were on full display. He boasted:
“I went to school with plenty people who were smarter than me. But you see they all work for me now.”
There are so many things wrong with this statement. But just a few. Public service officers work for the Bahamian people. They will be there after Christie is no longer in office.
People in the private sector do not work for Christie, though he seems to think that everyone in the country works for him. Not even an absolute monarch would make such a statement, except that is, King Perry I. Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the fairest of them all: Perry Gladstone Christie.
Worse than Christie’s narcissism is the poor lesson and wrong message he communicated to those impressionable school children.
At a Chamber of Commerce conference King Perry I referred to himself as “I, the country.” He has referred to himself as a gladiator. He asked people at an event in Bimini to look at him:
“They are wondering about how old I am. Tell them how I look. They are concerned about whether I have energy. Tell them to challenge me.”
Having stacked the PLP with Stalwart Councillors loyal to him, this is something of an empty boast. With only elected branch delegates to a PLP convention voting minus Christie’s appointed Councillors he might face defeat as PLP leader.
Christie, the great pontificator, in defending his public relations stopover to visit Pope Francis talked about the great international marketing payoff of the Bahamian prime minister visiting the pontiff. This is so laughable as not to require comment.
Christie is enthralled with the trappings of his office such as his seeming constant need for police outriders, with crisp uniforms and sirens blaring heralding his presence.
He loves travelling with a retinue of officials attending him, announcing that he is not simply a VIP, but an MIP, the Most Important Person in the land.
Christie’s egomania is such is that he is now out of touch, often seemingly callous and indifferent in some of his attitudes and comments. With many Bahamians struggling to buy food and pay for cooking gas he boasted of his sending his Christmas ham and turkey out to be cooked by a resort chef.
With his government having no housing record of which to boast, with many Bahamians unable to pay their mortgages and with tight government finances, he wants to build an official residence for the prime minister. With him likely to run again, he would revel in living in such a grand residence, perhaps overlooking the ocean.
Now Christie says that the prime minister should have a coat of arms. In our system there is a national coat of arms and one for the Governor General, who represents the monarch. It would be inappropriate for the head of government to have a coat of arms. Ours is not a presidential system.
Perhaps Christie would now like an equivalent of the Hail to the Chief anthem that greets a US president at certain events.
Christie’s central governing flaw is that he seems to view his office mostly as performance art and public relations. But when it comes to the hard work of governance he proves endlessly incompetent and incapable, poor at moving a policy through to completion, accomplishing little and mired in endless delays.
He bragged about whispering in the ear of the Chinese President the desire for a national stadium. Never mind that the Chinese were building stadiums for just about any country that asked.
Moreover, Christie got to ask the president because the FNM made the studied decision to recognize the People’s Republic of China, which the PLP had failed to do.
When it came to actually building the stadium and putting in the attendant infrastructure it was the Ingraham administration which did the heavy lifting.
So at the official opening Christie sat peeved that he was not at the center of attention, which, for him, seems to be much of what his prime ministership is all about.
At heart Christie is like a ringmaster or ringleader in a circus, “the one who stage-manages the performance, introduces the various acts, and guides the audience through the entertainment experience.
“It is traditionally the ringmaster’s job to create a sense of hyperbole whenever possible while introducing the acts. Declarations of the ‘biggest,’… , ‘amazing,’ ‘spectacular,’ and similar expressions are common, regardless of the actual caliber of the performance …
“The ringmaster is responsible for maintaining the smooth flow of the show — or at least an appearance of it. He may be called upon to fill time by talking or by joking with a clown if an act is not ready for its entrance.”
At the center of attention the ringmaster gets to wear a topcoat, tails and a tall top hat, all drawing the audience’s attention to him.
When audiences attend the circus they expect magic tricks and illusions, performance art and spectacle. When a government comes to office, citizens expect something quite different.
Alas, Perry Christie seems quite often not to know the difference between being a ringmaster and being prime minister.
And for this the country is paying a great price, even as Christie continues to playact in his three ring circus, a term also defined as, “a situation of confusion, characterized by a bewildering variety of events or activities” all amounting to very little.