While it takes a certain degree of narcissism to entrench oneself in politics to any degree, there are those whose minds are hardwired to work on a more tangled level. They are the ones that are born with the perfect storm of soul that many would fear if they looked deep enough. So it’s good, in that regard, that they have found the outlet of politics–as there would be no safe place for them in civilian life.
To understand this perfect storm we need look no further than the dark triad, a psychological study that seeks to understand the depths of human malice. Many psychologists feel that the three points of the dark triad–narcissism, machiavellianism, and psychopathy–are nearly interchangeable, but others find them to be traits that can coexist in a single psyche.
While it’s easy to admit that we might be hard pressed to pick a name that could be associated with all three–when looking at long time political provocateur Roger Stone we come as close as we possibly could to their physical embodiment. In him we find a career that has spanned almost 50 years–from the courts of the Nixon years to the Twitter feeds of the Trump White House–and has been littered with every kind of controversy, subversion, and triangulation possible.
At the age of 19, Stone had secured a job in the Office of Economic Opportunity under Nixon, and was already being named in the Watergate proceedings. While most people at his age were still trying to figure out whether or not to hold on to their summer job, Stone was maintaining his innocence before a senate judiciary committee. He was officially listed as a campaign scheduler, but in the man’s own words “By night, I’m trafficking in the black arts. Nixon’s people were obsessed with intelligence.” Getting spies hired to the campaign of Hubert Humphrey, and associating opponents of the Nixon administration with groups like the Young Socialist Alliance were a daily occurrence for the young conservative.
By 1996 the scandal machine was in full view of the American electorate when the National Enquirer published a piece that alleged Stone and second wife Nydia posted photos and ads for partners in publications for swingers, as well as on similar websites. In every interview, Stone summarily denied the allegations, instead choosing to blame them on “…a domestic employee who I discharged for substance abuse on the second time that we learned that he had a drug problem…”. It wasn’t until a decade later that Stone admitted that the story was true, but prior to this admission the methodology that had been used against him evolved into one of his most powerful weapons.
His experiences in statecraft, as well as the public dissemination of his personal life provided the perfect inspiration in which he could conduct business as he saw fit. Conspiracy theory and political misdirection soon became essential components to Stone’s idea of the ideal conservative movement.
In the early 2000’s his crosshairs were set on democratic governor of New York, Eliot Spitzer. Stone flung profanity laden threats at Spitzer’s 83 year old father, and later released statements to reflect that Spitzer himself had been involved with a number of prostitutes–information that would ultimately lead to the governor’s demise. When asked why he would release that information, Stone responded by saying, “I thought Spitzer was a punk, and I wanted to fuck with him any way I could.”
He has referred to libertarian candidates as ‘sexual predators’, and has leveled sexist and racist insults at anyone who gets in his way–acts that got him banned from MSNBC, CNN, and Fox News. When asked about the bans he stated that “I’m banned at CNN. I’m banned at MSNBC. I’m banned at Fox because I kick their ass.” There are the oft cited ‘Stone’s Rules’, which run the gauntlet from absurd (“Get your carbs from booze, not sweets”), to laughable (“White shirt + tan face = confidence,”), to downright terror inducing (“When i hear the word culture, I reach for my gun.” and “Admit nothing, deny everything, launch counterattack.”)
In the midst of all this it becomes increasingly easy to square Stone’s relationship with controversial radio host, Alex Jones. He is a regular guest on the popular conspiratorial show–and while watching him the viewer must feel that the conservative demagogue is quite at home. Nonsensical tirades and elaborate theories on evil cabals that support child predators, turn citizens gay through chemical warfare, and house slave labor on Mars are all common maladies that plague the airwaves of Infowars.
There seems to be nothing too foul for Stone to get mixed up in. His narcissism allows him to dive mouth first into any given situation–thinking that he will come out on top no matter what. The Prince in him whispers in his ear, telling him that ‘by any means necessary’ is the only necessary life motto. It’s the kind of career that tends to make one laugh to keep themselves from crying–with the occasional scream thrown in for good measure.
There is plenty that can be learned from this man, and his meteoric rise to power. He has had the ear of presidents and paupers, and bent them all to his agenda. But the fact remains that his ruthlessness and talent for subversion are more of a liability than an asset–especially when they have the ear of the highest office in the land. Actions, as they say, speak louder than words ever could, and Roger Stone’s need no context to discern the forces that drive him.
This was a guest post by Matthew Oakley. Matthew is a podcaster and writer whose articles have been featured in a number of publications, and can be heard as the weekly co-host of The Gralien Report, as well as an occasional commentator on the Middle Theory podcast. He is fiercely independent, and is outspoken with his writing regarding political topics and happenings both in the United States and abroad.