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Politicians finally linked to serial killers

June 17, 2009|By TIM ROWLAND

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At one time or another, I think most all of us have wanted to see, in print, the words "serial killers" and "politicians" used in the same sentence.

Our day has come.

Writing in the Baltimore Examiner, Jim Kouri -- a vice president of the National Association of Chiefs of Police -- detailed the mental makeup of some of our more egregious criminals.

Most murders involve people who know each other. But serial killers operate outside this familiar pattern, making them harder to catch, Kouri writes.

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Often, they are afflicted with psychopathy, which is a personality disorder that shows up in personality traits such as "glibness, superficial charm, a grandiose sense of self-worth, pathological lying and the manipulation of others."

I think you can see where this is going.

Actually, going down the checklist, I began to become concerned about myself. But then, no one ever has accused me of having charm, superficial or otherwise, so I think I'm off the hook.

Kouri continues, "Ironically, these same traits exist in men and women who are drawn to high-profile and powerful positions in society, including political office holders."

I'd always had my suspicions about Abe Lincoln, and this confirms it. "Honest Abe." Nice try, sicko.

And keep in mind, this isn't just me talking. This is a product of intense mental profiling conducted over the past two decades by the nation's greatest crime fighters.

I do believe, however, I could have saved them the bother. Really, is Mr. Kouri telling us anything we didn't already suspect? Play word association with any person on the street and "superficial charm," "grandiose sense of self-worth" and "pathological lying" is more likely to bag you a member of Congress than it is Jeffrey Dahmer.

I have to say, though, Kouri's assessment seems spot-on: "While not exhibiting physical violence, many political leaders display varying degrees of anger, feigned outrage and other behaviors. They also lack what most consider a 'shame' mechanism. Quite simply, most serial killers and many professional politicians must mimic what they believe are appropriate responses to situations they face ..."

In other words, they can't help it. This is why a Republican is incapable of thinking a Democrat could possibly have a good idea, and a Democrat is incapable of thinking a Republican could possibly have a good idea.

Instead, they get all red in the face and abandon anything approaching reality. You cannot reason with them because their brains don't work that way. This, known in scientific circles as the "O'Reilly Syndrome," makes perfect sense when viewed through the eyes of a trained criminologist.

It also explains why most normal people don't get into politics. We have a big enough job trying to control our teenagers; we don't need the headache of trying to control an entire district.

But bottom line, this report gives me a new appreciation of Congress -- the institution, if not the membership. Who knows what outlets these men and women might resort to if they didn't have an elected seat from which to blow off the steam generated by their overvalued sense of self-worth?

Political office, as it turns out, serves as something of an after-school program for at-risk miscreants. Viewed not as a deliberative body, but as a crime prevention program, Congress and our legislatures become a lot more easy to stomach.

Tim Rowland is a Herald-Mail columnist. He can be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 2324 or by e-mail at timr@herald-mail.com. Tune in to the Rowland Rant video under opinion@herald-mail.com, on antpod.com or on Antietam Cable's WCL-TV Channel 30 evenings at 6:30. New episodes are released every Wednesday.

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