Thursday, November 02, 2006

This is what it sounds like when narcissists apologize

They say things like this:

I sincerely regret that my words were misinterpreted...

A general rule of thumb is that narcissists talk a lot about themselves; "I" this and "I" that--but rarely as the subject of the action verb in an apology. It's unusual for narcissists to apologize at all, and ordinarily they only do so after a great deal of vigorous arm-twisting. One can only imagine how sore Kerry's is right now.

In the above sentence Kerry appears to be apologizing for something he did when he starts with the laudable words, "I sincerely regret." But that's just a decoy. He's actually talking about how he feels about the controversial action, not making himself the subject of the action itself.

In Kerry's sentence, the locus of the offensive action is actually in the listener, not the speaker. The problem is that the listener "misinterpreted" Kerry's words. A better way to put it would have been for Kerry to have said something like this:

"I sincerely regret that my words led listeners to believe that.... ,"(or)

"I sincerely regret that I used an awkward phrase that conveyed something different than I intended...", (or)

"I sincerely regret that the words I used sounded as though I meant..."

But if the American Legion accepts his apology, then so do I.

And, by the way, for the record, I believe Kerry's assertion that what he actually intended was to make a joke about Bush (albeit a lame one, and a "stupid" one, given the fact that Kerry's college grades were apparently worse than GW's) rather than to put the troops down for stupidity. I also happen to believe that Kerry does share the common liberal/left belief that the majority of troops are composed of the downtrodden, exploited masses (I've discussed such beliefs on the part of liberals and the Left here and here).

But I think Kerry's an equal-opportunity condescender--he looks down on everyone. Like Pooh-Bah in Gilbert and Sullivan's "The Mikado," he can't help it; he was born sneering:

NANKI-POO: But how good of you, for I see that you are a nobleman of the highest rank, to condescend to tell all this to me, a mere strolling minstrel!

POOH-BAH: Don't mention it. I am, in point of fact, a particularly haughty and exclusive person, of pre-Adamite ancestral descent. You will understand this when I tell you that I can trace my ancestry back to a protoplasmal primordial atomic globule. Consequently, my family pride is something inconceivable. I can't help it. I was born sneering. But I struggle hard to overcome this defect. I mortify my pride continually. When all the great officers of State resigned in a body because they were too proud to serve under an ex-tailor, did I not unhesitatingly accept all their posts at once?

PISH-TUSH: And the salaries attached to them? You did.

POOH-BAH: It is consequently my degrading duty to serve this upstart as First Lord of the Treasury, Lord Chief Justice, Commander-in-Chief, Lord High Admiral, Master of the Buckhounds, Groom of the Back Stairs, Archbishop of Titipu, and Lord Mayor, both acting and elect, all rolled into one. And at a salary! A Pooh-Bah paid for his services! I a salaried minion! But I do it! It revolts me, but I do it!

NANKI-POO: And it does you credit.

POOH-BAH: But I don't stop at that. I go and dine with middle-class people on reasonable terms. I dance at cheap suburban parties for a moderate fee. I accept refreshment at any hands, however lowly. I also retail State secrets at a very low figure. For instance, any further information about Yum-Yum would come under the head of a State secret.

[Nanki-Poo takes his hint, and gives him money]

POOH-BAH: [Aside] Another insult and, I think, a light one!

[NOTE TO TROLLS: No, I don't think Kerry took any bribes or divulged any state secrets, about Yum-Yum or otherwise.]

[ADDENDUM: For those who've read the comments section of this thread and are interested in further elaboration on my response to the "you're motivated by fear" charge, please see this and this.]

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