The only thing worse than pretending to read minds is offering long-distance diagnoses of mental illness in your political opponents -- a practice that has become increasingly common among pundits on the left and right.
In the last few weeks, the board-certified psychiatrist trio of Michelle Goldberg, Glenn Beck, and Michael Savage have diagnosed Sarah Palin and Barack Obama with a variety of mental disorders. Instead of the swami, I'm debuting a new graphic for bogus pundit psychiatry -- Lucy's psychiatric booth from Peanuts.
Here's Goldberg, a senior correspondent at The American Prospect, diagnosing Palin at The Daily Beast:
Palin, however, lies when there’s little to be gained by lying, and she lies when everyone knows the truth. If Bill Clinton were a Palin-style liar, he’d still be insisting that his relationship with Monica Lewinsky was entirely chaste, or he’d claim that he never denied it in the first place. If Hillary Clinton lied like Palin, she’d put the Bosnia anecdote in her next memoir. Palin’s new book, Going Rogue, coupled with her recent media appearances, evinces a dishonesty that seems as much clinical as opportunistic. Maybe Palin really does suffer from narcissistic personality disorder.
And here are transcripts of Glenn Beck on Fox News and Michael Savage on his syndicated radio show courtesy of Media Matters:
Beck and psychiatrist [ and Fox News contributor Keith] Ablow not psychoanalyzing the president -- just discussing what's "wrong" with him. On the November 11 edition of his Fox News program, Beck stated to Ablow: "I wrote to you, and I said, 'Do you see anything wrong here as a -- ' I'm not asking you to psychoanalyze the president. I'm saying, psychoanalyze the American people. Are we crazy for saying something is not right?" In his reply, Ablow stated: "We're not crazy for saying something's not right. It's a little crazy that more people aren't saying it more loudly." Ablow later stated: "[T]here is a big, cavernous gulf, apparently, between the president's ability to generate emotion and charisma and gripping words that move people when he's scripted. And then, when there's less time to prepare, there's some sort of lack of connectedness, a true lack of connectedness with at least what moves the majority of us." In discussing Obama's statements about the Fort Hood shooting, which Beck claimed were "disconnected," Ablow said: "[I]f he's not scripted to deliver the emotional cues, if he's not scripted to have lots of time and a teleprompter to do it, then he tends to stumble. And this was a huge stumble. This was a big, big window on the man's soul, I think." [Fox News' Glenn Beck, 11/11/09]
Savage's psychoanalysis: Obama has "deep psychological problems," "deep-seated inferiority feelings." While discussing Obama's bow to Japanese Emperor Akihito, Savage stated that "this man has deep psychological problems" and that "since we know he is only a man, and therefore since all men suffer from psychological problems, is it not logical to assume that he may have psychological problems? And if so, what are his psychological problems, and how do they affect this man's behavior and his overt contempt for America, its history, and its people and his love of everything third-world?" He later claimed that "you start to put a picture together of a guy who has such deep-seated inferiority feelings, it seems as though he's looking for his father all over the world." [Talk Radio Network's The Savage Nation, 11/17/09]
Update 11/25 8:30 AM: See also Bob Somerby on the questionable factual basis for Goldberg's claims about Palin's lying.