That set of facts alone made the “free stuff” speech shockingly offensive. But the problem isn’t just that Romney’s wrong, and a hypocrite, and cynically furthering dangerous and irresponsible stereotypes in order to advance some harebrained electoral ploy involving white conservative voters. What makes it gross is the way he did it.
Romney can’t even be mean with any honesty. Even when he’s pandering to viciousness, ignorance and racism, it comes across like a scaly calculation. A guy who feels like he has to take a dump on the N.A.A.C.P. in Houston in order to connect with frustrated white yahoos everywhere else is a guy who has absolutely no social instincts at all...
Most presidents have something under the hood – wit, warmth, approachability, something...
But Romney doesn’t buzz with anything. His vision of humanity is just a million tons of meat floating around in a sea of base calculations. He’s like a teenager who stays up all night thinking of a way to impress the prom queen, and what he comes up with is kicking a kid in a wheelchair. Instincts like those are probably what made him a great leveraged buyout specialist, but in a public figure? Man, is he a disaster. It’s really incredible theater, watching the Republicans talk themselves into this guy.
Taibbi also picks up on how Romney's speech is part of a broader pattern of behavior. Mitt Romney is a bully. As such, he is the perfect candidate for a party of bullies. But, could Mitt Romney also be sociopathic?
This is a bold claim; but given Mitt Romney's behavior, it demands more than a flippant dismissal.
When the public thinks of sociopaths they envision a psychotic killer or mass murder. These are outliers who are more caricatures/ideal typical cases than the rule.
Frighteningly, sociopaths are apparently quite common in American society where they constitute at least 4 percent of the population. They are characterized by a lack of empathy, an inability to form deep and meaningful interpersonal relationships, coldness, and flat affect. In total, the sociopath is marked by a lack of conscience.
They can feign and perform emotional reactions like an actor or actress following a script. However, they do not feel emotions in the same way as "normal" people. In certain professions and trades an amount of sociopathic behavior can actually be an advantage--the world of business, the highest levels of government, and elite military units for example. Robber baron gangster capitalists such as Mitt Romney would certainly find a lack of (or even inhibited) conscience a great aid towards their success.
Ultimately, sociopaths view human beings as chess pieces to be moved and manipulated towards their own personal ends. Here, the following observation as offered in The Sociopath Next Door is both provocative and insightful:
About one in twenty-five individuals are sociopathic, meaning, essentially, that they do not have a conscience. It is not that this group fails to grasp the difference between good and bad; it is that the distinction fails to limit their behavior. The intellectual difference between right and wrong does not bring on the emotional sirens and flashing blue lights, or the fear of God, that it does for the rest of us.
Without the slightest blip of guilt or remorse, one in twenty-five people can do anything at all...We are not commonly aware of, nor do we usually identify, the larger number of nonviolent sociopaths among us, people who often are not blatant lawbreakers, and against whom our formal legal system provides little defense
Most of us would not imagine any correspondence between conceiving of ethnic genocide and, say, guiltlessly lying to one's boss about a coworker. But the psychological correspondence is not only there; it is chilling. Simple and profound, the link is the absence of the inner mechanism that beats up on us, emotionally speaking when we make a choice we view as immoral, unethical, neglectful, or selfish...Those who have no conscience at all are a group unto themselves, whether they be homicidal tyrants or merely ruthless military snipers.Does this group include Mitt Romney?