Presidential reading backfired on Jimmy Carter.... In the summer of 1979, with the economy struggling and the presidency shaken by the Iran hostage crisis, Carter delivered his infamous speech proclaiming a "crisis of confidence" in America. It became known as the "malaise" speech and is widely regarded as a major political mistake. The address, written mainly by adviser Pat Caddell, was inspired by Christopher Lasch's best-selling book "The Culture of Narcissism." Lasch had come to the White House for a dinner about six weeks before the address, and his ideas apparently stayed behind. Two days after the July 15 speech, Carter fired several Cabinet members, adding to the sense of drift that seemed to define the era. (In 1993, during the fourth season of "The Simpsons," Springfield unveiled a Carter statue; the inscription at the base read "Malaise Forever.")First, the obligatory foray into YouTube:
Anyway, did you read Christopher Lasch's "Culture of Narcissism" back in the 1970s when it was a best seller? If it was such a best seller, why didn't America appreciate Carter's "Crisis of Confidence" speech? I just watched that speech again at the link. I heard it in real time back in 1979. I must confess that it appealed to me at the time, but it's scarily bizarre by present-day standards.
Here's the spiffy, non-lugubrious way we talk about narcissism today — a fun-loving article, not a scolding, depressing book.