Politics & Media
Mar 20, 2023, 06:26AM

Marianne Williamson: Raging Guru

Dem pres contender cracks her crystals.

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Marianne Williamson’s been outed again and for the same offense as last time: she screams at staff. The longshot presidential contender does this so much, so operatically that aides routinely hand out NDAs to taxi drivers to make sure that certain scenes go unwitnessed. Politico has the scoop (“It would be foaming, spitting, uncontrollable rage,” says a staffer), but People had it 31 years ago, when the shamaness was breaking over the Hollywood horizon (“offstage displays of temper and unchecked ego… a cruelly abrasive management style”). On Twitter a few people rolled their eyes about a female candidate called out for roughness; that particular spotlight doesn’t fall on male politicians, they said. If so, there’s still a great tolerance for female wu-wu artists who storm and holler at flunkies.

The same week that Bill Clinton won a presidential primary for the first time, America’s beauty parlor magazine delivered the goods on Williamson with a 2110-word article (Her words, according to witnesses: ‘You’re fucking with my livelihood. I’m famous—I don’t need this, damn it!’… Within earshot of TV and movie bigshots, Williamson snapped, ‘Fuck off, Sandy!’ before storming away”). All 2110 words appear to have bounced off. Williamson’s fans back then had to know about the article; they read People. No matter, her career rolled on. We hear about her awfulness only because the Democratic nomination has just two contenders and she’s one of them.

Politico tells us that Williamson kept hitting a car door until she and her hand had to go an urgent care facility. She was upset about something and making a point. Williamson hurries to provide context: a “car door is not a person,” she says neatly, so jail time is out. Still, she sounds like a wild ride. In 2020, during her first try at the nomination, Williamson came off as a buoyant oddball. Not a person with good policy sense, but somebody who brought some spark into the room. So she is, for what it’s worth; now deal with the flipside.

Wu-wu’s, the sellers of elevated consciousness, are notorious for their raging temperaments. You get people who make a living by going about with shiny eyes and urgent voicers, hyping other people into feeling some desired cluster of emotions having to do with not being afraid of your boss, not being afraid of your boyfriend, writing more in your journal, not worrying about bikini season. Of course the throaty-voiced serenity peddlers are going to be nuts. They fetishize and brandish their inner leanings toward centeredness and self-understanding. Jack such matters up, wave them about, and you warp yourself into a difficult psychic-emotional zone.

Somebody whose spiritual understanding comes from a firm religious tradition may or may not be so bad. A roll-your-own type who doesn’t make much noise may also be okay, as holds true for the followers of most ideas. But roll your own guruhood and I say your brain’s a fireworks factory with a pack of burning dogs caught inside. Run for president and someone may notice, eventually. Or notice all over again. A new generation of ex-employees stands ready to confide into microphones. That’s the result of Marianne Williamson living her life. She’s learned nothing and forgotten nothing, including that her hotel room definitely has to have a bathtub, no shower, or there’s going to be trouble.

Redemptive moment. The People article contains this reflection by the adult Williamson looking back on the child Williamson, a precocious being who used to wonder if Eleanor Roosevelt could’ve done more in the world if it weren’t for how she looked. “I kept thinking, ‘Could makeup have made a difference?’” she recalled. I think that’s beautiful. When Christopher Guest makes a movie about a political campaign, he can start with Marianne Williamson, add Mitt Romney, and go from there.


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