First, no need to let the Sunday talk shows, those grab-bags of bubble-boy pundits with the claws of vicious cats, get you depressed. On a beautiful Sunday, like the one we just had in New York, I can only hope that you turned off the television, took a walk with someone you like, and generally had a good time.
While this would appear to have nothing whatsoever to do with Vladimir Putin, a real Don, and Herman Cain, a real Godfather Pizza Don, just bear with me. The connection is psychological, maybe even Dostoevskian. But it isn't about depression, unless it's ours, the voting public. It's about delusion.
First off the mental state of Mr. Putin, as reported by Reuters, while covering the projected results from the parliamentary election just held Sunday, Dec. 4:
These elections are unprecedented because they were carried out against the background of a collapse in trust in Putin, (President Dmitry) Medvedev and the ruling party, said Vladimir Ryzhkov, a liberal opposition leader barred from running.
I think that the March (presidential) election will turn into an even bigger political crisis; disappointment, frustration, with even more dirt and disenchantment, and an even bigger protest vote.
After a 12-year reign, Putin. brought order from the collapse of the U.S.S.R. But his leadership has not dealt with the widespread corruption, a.k.a. crony socialism, and the huge gap between the poor and the wealthy oligarchs, a.k.a. the 1 percent. The exit polls suggest that his party, United Russia, would take as much as 48.5 percent of the vote, vs. 64.3 percent in 2007.
His response to his party's sinking fortunes, that inevitable consequence of massive wealth disparity and cronyism? Report Reuters' Timothy Heritage and Ralph Boulton: This is an optimal result which reflects the real situation in the country, Putin, 59, said. Based on this result we can guarantee stable development of our country.
Now back to our side of the pond, and citizen Cain. What was the man, with the alleged-just-a-close-friend Atlanta businesswoman Ginger White, thinking? Really, I must repeat that--what was he thinking!
Not about how he handled himself in his private life. I am absolutely not going there. That is between the man, his wife, Gloria, and his friend Ginger, and, as he is a religious man, I suppose between him, his pastor and his church community.
As I understand the story, he actually never told his wife of this friendship for 13 years, give or take. That should be denial enough for any one lifetime.
But it's epic delusion to think that the running dogs of the press would actually let a man run for President of these United States and not plow the earth of his life like a squadron of Warthogs (A-10 Thunderbolts). Did he really think he could keep Ginger a secret? Has he not watched TV news in the last 20 years? Did he miss the Blue Dress?, not to mention all the other escapades (hiking the Appalachian trail?) that brought many a politician down in recent years?
So here we have a tale of two delusions, and on the same weekend. One is political, the other personal.
I don't know how people delude themselves so badly. But a friend's husband might have pointed me to one of the best explanations for such delusional thinking. And it's not reserved just for the mighty, either.
Apparently, it's called modeling by scientists of the mind. It describes the way in which we create a model of our lives, the world, pretty much everything. And we live, not in the real world, but in that model. We plan out our lives, our careers, our families in that model world.
This is not an entirely new concept. Philosopher--Kant, for one, comes to mind--with his Noumena and Phenomena. He was talking more about our physiology. We can not know the actual reality of things, the Noumena. We can only know our perceptions, that is, how our physical senses react to outer stimuli, that Noumena. He called this Phenomena.
So the color red is really our perception of red, reflected off rods and cones in our eyes, not the actual reality of that color. To see how this distinction works, just consider someone you know with red-green blindness. Those colors are seen as shades of gray to them, so they aren't the same as what you see (assuming you can see them in color).
More recently, neuroscientists and psychologists who have developed self-help therapies have found this a useful approach for the less physiological aspects of our perceptions, like our emotional reactions to events and our social interactions.
Change the model of your reality and you can turn negative into positive. You can overcome trauma. You can change your interaction with people and the world. That is very often a very good thing.
But the trouble with seeing only the model is that without adequate input from others, your vision of your actions and your world can drift far off course. And this, it would appear, is a problem for both Putin and Cain--and perhaps most, if not all, of our leaders. Men, and the occasional woman, of great wealth and power, rarely get honest feedback from others. It can be hard for them to get the course correction they need. It can lead them to think that wrong is right.