Garry Wills had him nailed a long time ago.
Jesus, are we stupid or what?
“He was all energy and conviction, never letting up, though I was soon worn down by the emotional attrition. Every time I tried to ease my way out the door, he loomed up with new giant claims or some belligerent challenge—was I calling him a liar? Like all spellbinders, he was clearly convincing himself at least part of the time, trying to believe, with an actor’s wish to measure up to the part. Or, alternately, he would taunt me with undisguised lies that he made me respond—and had me hooked again. The weird fascination of Hitler became comprehensible at last. Much as I tried to stay clinical and observant, he involved me, made me angry, or sympathetic, or frightened; ashamed for him, or ashamed of myself for letting his emotional bullying work. He was the voice of all that Sixties mystique of “the confrontation”—the belief that sheer conflict will somehow purify, as when people in encounter groups screamed, criticized, fatigued each other down to the ultimate capitulation—and called their stripped down exhaustion “reality.” The street theatre of shouts and trashing, tear gas and taunting the pigs, was a way of moving these “encounters” out onto the public stage. My Demagogue had brought the process full circle around, taking the inflated political rhetoric back into the ego’s echo chamber. The Sixties experience—“mind-blowing,” consciousness-altering—was always some kind of trip.”