The sociopath

Mitt Romney’s lack of empathy and compassion reach truly pathological levels.
Seriously. There’s something missing.

Remember the heartless, conscience-less bully and coward who cut the hair of a pleading, screaming classmate while four accomplices held the victim down? Apparently he’s still around.

Look, in politics you wind up hurting people. But there’s no need to be mean about it. This sort of thing is special problem among the self-righteous; it’s always more fun to inflict pain in the Name of God. When the first of the Protestant martyrs to suffer under Mary I – a married Church of England clergyman – asked to see his wife before going to the stake, Bishop Gardiner answered simply: “He is a priest. He has no wife.”


Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact:

13 thoughts on “The sociopath”

  1. But if you are his business partner and your daughter goes missing, he will drop everything he is doing to help you look for her!

    1. The Romneys do include some others in their definition of “us”. Not surprising — there are only Romneys, and the help.

  2. This idea (which I’ve always heard credited to CS Lewis) is actually quite sophomoric, particularly as he lived during a time when raw power struggles killed tens of millions of people.

    People with power who are interested only in power frequently have had no qualms about mass slaughter and hideous tortures, subject only to the limitations on what they could do, and what they could get away with.

    To take an example totally at random, a lot of Mitt’s money came from simple looting – they’d take over a firm, defraud creditors, take the pension fund, and leave the rubble to rot. Which didn’t involve Mitt personally having to witness the devastation, but that’s just a matter of taste (analogous to a ruler not wanting to personally witness every execution and torture, or to hear the screams of the widows and orphans, or to smell the rotting corpses).

    It’s clear now that that entire Wall St world is founded to a shockingly large extent on sheer parasitism and looting, with productive activities being a small portion of the total. Yet the Wall Streeters have not yet hit their limits of desire, and still call for more, more, more.

  3. So here’s my question: are people whose creed gives them a sense of certainty more likely to inflict gratuitous pain on others, or are people who enjoy inflicting gratuitous pain more likely to gravitate to creeds that give them a comfortable sense of certainty?

    (And a subsidiary question: is it properly speaking gratuitous pain, since it provides pleasure for the person inflicting it?)

    1. Ime, the answer to your question is that the “sense of certainty” comes first, and the creed is essentially irrelevant.

      I would not include a taste for the infliction of pain, as a requirement, but I do think that all fundamentalists share a need, a craving, for black-and-white thinking. They are unable to tolerate any gray area, and they were probably born that way, though others on this site probably have better insight into what is inborn psychologically, or not. All the stuff that comes with that – the intolerance, the worship of rules, the oppression and inevitable violence – comes from this need for a world with no confusion in it.

      But I also don’t think these people are necessarily the same as say, Stalin. Or that they are all “sociopaths” either. They probably feel bad when something happens to someone in their family, which I believe would rule out sociopathy? The rest of us just don’t count as human to them.

  4. Btw, I hate to be a pain, but I don’t really like ads like this. It was too long and too emotional and it seemed manipulative to me, with the long closeups. Is it important that Romney is against gay marriage? Yes it is. Is it important that he didn’t take the time to read the bios of everyone he meets with? Um, that’s a closer call.

    I still think the haircutting was much worse. And, he lied about it.

    Which is not to discount this woman’s point, that he’s a cold jerk. No doubt. Just, cheese and crackers do you have to go on that long about it? I don’t think you’ll convince many people with stuff like this.

    1. I think you’re looking at it the wrong way: people are going to upload raw material onto the internet, because they are no longer constrained by 15- and 30-second ad blocks on TV and radio. That raw material, like the video embedded here, is meant to serve as a jumping-off point for bloggers and reporters in traditional media. The lengthier presentation allows one to go back to the source material to see what the context was for pullquotes and the like.

      1. Did this ad seem raw to you? I thought it seemed quite professionally done. There is nothing wrong with emotion per se, I guess I just wonder who’s the target audience? Length for its own sake leaves me cold.

        And are there many independent voters who support gay rights who are still on the fence??? Though I don’t understand most indys to begin with! To me, this kind of screams “MoveOn,” and not in a good way.

        1. It’s raw in the sense that it’s not made to air on TV. As far as the professionally made part of it, my guess is that the “Mitt Gets Worse” bumpers are professionally made, and the footage between them is an intermediate edit (as in the original video was even longer). It strikes me as a longer interview (possibly available elsewhere on the “Mitt Gets Worse” site) cut down to a few minutes for the sake of bloggers and reporters, with the expectation that others might select shorter snippet quotes from it.

    2. I understand what you’re saying but the point of the ad is not to persuade but to energize. I think it’s targeted to lefties who might be inclined to stay home because they don’t want to face another least-worst choice again. They have to feel that the Gates of Hell will open if they don’t vote for Obama. Whatever works I suppose.

      I’ve vowed not to get caught up in election year insanity this time around. I’m voting for Obama, I’ll make contributions — especially for congressional races — I may even volunteer to help folks get IDs who need them (GA passed one of those Voter ID laws). But I’m not going to get caught up in the notion that Romney is the Devil or that Obama is our Savior. I’m going to shoot for being a Voter AND and Adult. It’s an experiment. I’ll let you know how it goes.

      1. I think it’s targeted to lefties who might be inclined to stay home

        Leaving the rest of your comment aside, I’m pretty sure this is correct. “Mitt Gets Worse” is an effective tagline if you’re familiar with the Gay-friendly tagline “It Gets Better”, and the tagline and the campaign are effective if your participation is strongly motivated by your respect for Gay folks. If those apply to you, you’re not really likely to be a voter Mitt or any modern Republican could conceivably reach – but you have every ability to sit on your hands.

  5. Now Romney is a conviction politician of the right, firmly opposed to gay rights (despite his quite mixed record) not out of political expediency, but simply because he’s a sociopath.

    Well, that’s one way to engage on the issue. Reality-based!

    I wonder what Obama tells the kids in DC that he continues to try to get thrown out of their schools? We’ll never know, of course, because Obama will never meet with those parents, and because Obama can rely on the fact that a certain kind of sociopath will support him in his attempt to ruin their lives.

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