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Bill Clinton

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ST. JOSEPH, Minn., Dec. 17, 1998 -- A psychological study of President Bill Clinton, conducted before the 1996 election, predicted that the Clinton presidency would be "troubled by ethical questions and lapses of judgment," but that the president would "retain a following and maintain his self-confidence in the face of adversity." The investigation revealed serious flaws as well as redeeming features in the president's personality, and found his motives to be "vastly different from those that scuttled the political career of Richard Nixon."

The study, by associate professor of psychology at the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John's University, Aubrey Immelman, was published this fall in the journal Leadership Quarterly. Immelman concluded that in a second presidential term Bill Clinton would likely continue to display his "driving ambition, supreme sense of self-confidence, and personal charisma," but offered the "sobering caveat" that President Clinton's character contained "the seeds of its own undoing."

Specifically, Immelman determined that President Clinton's personality was an amalgam of ambitious and outgoing personality styles. According to Immelman, these patterns incorporate adaptive aspects of the narcissistic and histrionic character types described in the clinical personality literature. Ambitious personalities are assertive, self-assured, persuasive, self-centered, and have a tendency to be arrogant, acting as though entitled. Outgoing personalities are gregarious, image-conscious, easily bored, charming, seductive, glib and inventive, and believe they can readily charm and influence others.

The study was conducted before the president's affair with Monica Lewinsky came to light. Asked what the president's character reveals about his sexual risk taking, Immelman noted that personality theorist Theodore Millon of the University of Miami has found that a distinctive feature of the ambitious-outgoing personality composite (as in the case of Bill Clinton) is "an erotic and seductive orientation." According to Millon, such individuals may have an indifferent conscience and aloofness to the truth, which, if brought to their attention, is likely to elicit nonchalant innocence. They are driven by a need for excitement, stimulation, and challenge and tend to be undisciplined, traveling an erratic course of successes, failures, and abandoned hopes. Although they may leave a trail of broken promises and outrageous acts, their disregard for the truth and their talents for exploitation and deception are rarely hostile or malicious in intent.

With reference to the current impeachment proceedings against the president, Immelman said that failings associated with ambitious, outgoing personalities such as President Clinton are typically limited in scope, extending primarily to self-indulgent excess, including sexual intemperance. More important, when these personalities land themselves in trouble, their misconduct is generally of a self-serving nature rather than with malice aforethought. They arrogantly, yet benignly, overlook their personal vulnerabilities

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