Hubris is defined as "excessive pride or self-confidence; arrogance." It comes from the Greek word for insolence.
It takes a bit of hubris to run for public office. It takes a bit of audacity to believe that you are capable of leading a nation. I get that. But what happens when it really goes to your head, when you are incapable of seeing the world as it really is? We've seen that in people like Saddam and Qaddafi. We listen to them, and we think of them as being fools.
While Newt Gingrich may not be a Saddam or a Qaddafi, he certainly is one who has not just hubris, but an excessive amount of it. I don't think I could say it any better than his rival Rick Santorum: "Grandiosity has never been a problem with Newt Gingrich. He — he handles it very, very well."
Not only does he exhibit grandiosity, but he has learned to turn that on end so that he can draw power by portraying himself as the victim of some kind of media war against him. Here is a man who is at best amoral, who attacked President Clinton for his moral failures (and Clinton had plenty of hubris and moral failure of his own), even as he was in the midst of a lengthy affair. At the very least there was incredible hypocrisy.
We are all sinners, as Paul pointed out. We are all in need of grace. I have my moral failures and I have a certain amount of hubris as well. I get that. I'm very aware of this, and I'm not an Augustinian nor a Calvinist!
But, I stand amazed at the way in which supposedly "values voters," who seem to be flocking to Gingrich's standard, seem not to care about his character. They don't seem to care about his hypocrisy. They speak of religious values, and yet seem not to care that the one they are supporting is an amoral person. But then they like the way he taps into their sense of resentment and anger.
John King's question last night may not have been posed well and maybe he should have brought it up later in the debate, but it's on the minds of many -- are the charges made by his former wife true? That Newt's mean-spirited attack on the moderator, and as an aside attack on the President, drew a standing ovation from the crowd simply amazes me. But then I shouldn't really be surprised since this has been his tactic since the beginning -- attack the questioner. He did it last night with King and he did it the other night with Juan Williams (who is hardly a liberal), who raised the question of Gingrich's remarks about the poor and about African Americans.
But he's not alone. I see others in public life who are drawing power by playing the "victim" card. The mayor of my own community has been doing this as well. Now, the fact is -- these folks are people who have political and economic power. They're not oppressed. They are people who have chosen to enter the public arena, where you face scrutiny. If you don't like it, then don't go into the arena. But, don't play it for political gain. This is simply another example of hubris.
So, the question is -- how does one have sufficient self-confidence to enter the public arena without falling into the "hubris" trap?