Romney's performance at the first domestic policy debate was quite the show. He casually lied and flip flopped like a skilled used cars salesman without batting an eye. The political shape shifter dropped his Tea Party, 47% persona in favor of his
Of course all successful politicians have to fudge some things (the voters who constantly demand that politicians be consistent and honest regularly punish those naÃ¯ve enough to actually do so). But candidate Etch-A-Sketch was so egregious that he left no objective doubt that he has little in the way of principles to ground him -- he says whatever he thinks will get him where he wants to go depending on the audience he is addressing. His saying whatever he wants to regardless of its truth is so easy and out of control that it risks being reckless -- at some point it could come to stick to him enough to help lose the election. But right now it is working out for Mitt. It is perversely impressive how he prevaricated in such a convincing manner that he persuaded a big majority, many Democrats included, that he had won the debate even though the distracted or whatever POTUS did a better job of maintaining a more principled contact with reality.
Few could pull off such a performance. And that was what it was, a theatrical performance. The reason few can do so is that most persons' brain circuitry and chemistry does not allow them to get away with it. When most folks lie they give off tells subtle or not so subtle that most others pick up on. It's called feeling guilty. Maybe not filled with deep remorse, but just guilty enough that the person cannot keep from showing the mental conflict to the outside world. But the Romney brain is clearly geared to cover it all up well enough to fool the majority.
There is a psychological term for a person who is sufficiently lacking in guilt to sell a false line in a convincing manner. Psychopath. There is a very nice article about it in this month's Scientific American, "The Wisdom of Psychopaths." It explains that your socially functional psychopath (i. e. uses persuasion rather than violence in a social setting to con or convince the target, it's the most common variety) are so charismatic, egotistical, confident, focused, and especially low on remorse that they can readily manipulate many others. And that often makes them very successful.
And what class of successful persons are often psychopaths? Why business leaders. CEOs. Manipulating finances being especially attractive to the type. The kind of business in which lacking ruth and empathy to competitors and to those who may be adversely impacted by the pursuit of money is an advantage (click here).
And of course politicians. Most of all those aiming for high office. Striving to be president requires a huge ego and a certain amount of insanity -- its brutal getting there and the 24/7/365 jobs kind of sucks, but all the power and prestige is the reward.
(Another haven for psychopaths is medicine. Especially heroic surgery. It takes a lot to slice someone open with a knife and rummage around their innards. That's why some technically skilled doctors are lacking in empathy. Dr. House anyone?)
It is very plausible that high end financial CEO and POTUS aspiring Romney is socially functional psychopathic. Sure does explain his debate feat. And it is compatible with his religion. Many do not really get what Mormonism is about. It is not just that they wear magic underwear and think the revived Jesus came to the
So the once financial manipulating and money accumulating CEO and now hoping to be the world's uberpolitician Romney is figuring on then being God of his own planet. Again, I'm not making this up, it's Mormon dogma. Business leader, national leader, planet leader. It has self grandiose psychopath written all over it.
Another top tier candidate skilled at lying with exceptional grace and poise was Sarah Palin (click here). But she never was serious about becoming president -- she had not pushed for the VEEP position that was dropped in her lap, she got tired of being governor of a low population state, and has since focused on moving up from the middle class to the 1% with book deals and reality shows.
Is Obama a psychopath? Not nearly as much as much as Romney (can't flat out say no since he did run for president). You could see it in the debate. Barack does not have the ability of the successful and correspondingly psychopathic salesman to with ease regularly lie through one's public relations teeth while convincing the customer he is telling the truth. He has to be motivated to work at it at any given event, and even then he might not be able to pull it off. It was obvious that Obama -- whose campaign correctly calculates that increasingly minority dominated demographics make it very difficult at best for the candidate of the southern white political club called the GOP to win the electoral college so what's the point of this pointless debate with this political pitchman -- was not able to work up his brain to the level needed to hide that he would have much preferred to be celebrating his anniversary with his wonderful wife. And who can blame him?
That the president is not a habitual psychopath is an electoral problem for him because publics often prefer skilled liars as political leaders, whether they be autocrats or democratically selected. On the other hand political psychopathy can have electoral costs. As good as guilt free manipulators can be, folks are programmed to detect cheaters, so psychopaths are in danger of coming across with that slick edge -- as per Romney's unconvincing salesman's smile -- that can cause skeptics to reject their line.
Being seriously pathological does not automatically prevent presidents from being good national heads. Serial philandering and politically manipulative FDR, JFK, LBJ and WJC were able to advantageously exploit their pathological personalities to try to improve the situation of the lower classes. WMR has instead bought into the profoundly messed up Ayn Rand's psychosociological pathology of thinking that if the 99% bends over backwards to be obsequiously nice to the 1%, the latter in their free market hyperindividualism will incidentally show wealth on the rest of us, rather than rig the system to direct wealth up the socioeconomic ladder to them which is what lots of them actually do, leaving the 99% holding the fiduciary bag.
I am not saying that Romney is evil incarnate. I'll leave that to hardcore Catholics and Protestants. The problem is that Romney's brand of psychological, theological and political dysfunction is of the corporate-libertarian type that promises to do the 99% considerably more harm than good.