How do you solve a problem like Alberto?

New York Times columnist (and, ahem, Nobel laureate) Paul Krugman asks for help finding the word for “the kind of person who considers his mild discomfort the equivalent of torture, crippling injury, or death for other people.” Specifically, the word for disgraced former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, who told the Wall Street Journal:

“I consider myself a casualty, one of the many casualties of the war on terror.”

Gonzales has been out of work since he resigned under fire and ridicule. Could be the pending perjury investigation, or perhaps his role providing legalistic cover for the Bush administration’s torture policies—in any case, “he said law firms have been ‘skittish’ about hiring him,” the Journal reports in an article published Wednesday.

Readers of Krugman’s blog have suggestions:

Try “Drama Queen”

“Clueless” is about the nicest single word I can think of. “Self-absorbed” is a compound word, so that may not fit your parameters.

Narcissist? Sociopath? Developmentally retarded? Infantile navel-gazer? The first one seems closest, but yes, it’s not easy to find a word for this.

“crybaby”

In medical circles, we might say someone has hypochondriasis or a somatoform disorder — but those terms wouldn’t fit with the examples you give.
Do you mean a “whiner”????

A few readers think Gonzales’ epic self pity requires its own, new word:

But seriously there is a sweet spot between ‘narcissism’ and ’sociopathy’ that fits the bill here. Perhaps we could coin a neologism and just call Gonzo a ‘narcipath’.

narcistocrocodilopath : A narcissist who sheds fake tears over their own perceived victim status while displaying sociopathic behavior.

Psycho-chondriac?

Got a suggestion? Comment on Krugman’s blog and be sure to leave a comment here, too.

UPDATE: Krugman’s blog is now closed to comments, so please continue the suggestions below.

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Ernest Luning

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