Cowardice is a too-often overlooked characteristic of the narcissist. In the inventory of pathological self-regard it’s frequently forgotten. But really, when you stop to think about it, it’s the most poisonous and destructive and prominent characteristic of the narcissist of all.
It’s no accident, therefore, that when an entire political Party descends into narcissism that it, too, is best characterised as a party of cowardice. We are watching that cowardice unfold before us every day. Kevin McCarthy (as I write this), in his headlong pursuit of the House Speakership, continues to display his cowardice by representing the ultimate spineless political opportunist, prepared to bend to every capricious political wind. Even Sean Hannity recognises that McCarthy is a man without a spine, with absolutely no political convictions.
Meanwhile, the cowardly Donald Trump withheld his final endorsement of McCarthy until the last minute because he was afraid of backing the wrong candidate for Speaker of the House. Trump appeared to have changed his tune after McCarthy’s bid for the Speaker’s gavel was stymied by far-right House Republicans. When he finally came out with his endorsement he did so with a frightened half-reluctance. “We’ll see what happens,” Trump told correspondent Garrett Haake. “We’ll see how it all works out.”
Cowardice is not only the preserve of the Republican Party’s most powerful members. It trickles down to the rank and file. Recently a text message thread from January 6, 2021, between former Counselor to the President Hope Hicks and former chief of staff to Ivanka Trump Julie Radford was released by the J6 Committee. Both women expressed dismay about the ongoing riot at the Capitol. Both women were terrified for their jobs and future prospects, and nothing more.
The texts revealed that neither of the women had the smallest concern or regard for the lives and safety of the members of Congress or the Capitol police that were then at risk. Neither seemed to care in the least about the assault on democracy playing out before their very eyes. Fear for themselves was their only concern. For Hicks and Radford, craven, selfish, unpatriotic self-regard was the beginning and the end of their worries. They mourned the death of their careers. They couldn’t care less about the prospective death of their county.
Government at the very top is supposed to be populated by America’s best and brightest and most courageous. That has proven largely true on the Democratic side. The government in the hands of the Democrats the last two years has consistently shown significant progress. But what should have been an orderly transition from one political party to another in the House of Representatives has instead descended into chaos fuelled by fear.
On the cusp of the second anniversary of the insurrection, people who at first condemned the actions of that horrible day are, in theory at least, now once again in charge. We can now once again observe what happens, brothers and sisters, when a cabal of selfish, spineless and craven fools are in charge. When the Party of Cowardice takes the stage the results are never surprising. And, as ever, ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters, comrades and friends, stay safe.
Robert Harrington is an American expat living in Britain. He is a portrait painter.