What in the Hell is Mitt Romney smiling about?
So this happened:
Associated Press photojournalist Charles Dharapak tweeted a picture of a smiling Romney leaving the podium after his ill-advised politicizing of yet another tragedy.
Which brings to mind what I observed when I watched Mitt Romney’s press conference today:
Smiling while discussing the tragedy.
Smirking while lying about Obama’s response to the tragedy.
Lip smacking after declaring emotions.
Curled lip of contempt when blaming Obama for the embassy’s statement.
Smiling gleefully while answering questions.
To which we can now add:
Smiling while leaving the podium.
Mitt Romney couldn’t keep the glee off of his face this morning. It wasn’t a Bushian smirk or a Cheney smirk or even a Palin smirk. It was devoid of the inner rage of the last two, and the light ignorance of the first. Mitt Romney’s smirk is empty, cold and bottomless; it’s self-satisfied in the way of a serial smirker, but cold. So cold.
It appears as if Romney is happy about today’s events and yet I don’t want to believe this. People died, yet he’s smiling. The prevailing emotion Mitt Romney is feeling is happiness. We can only surmise that he is feeling this because he believes that he’s finally found a way to the crown of President to which he feels entitled, not realizing that he’s in fact made a right fool of himself. His smile gained the most traction during the question and answer session with the press, at which point he repeatedly tried to tamp it down to no avail. He is clearly not thinking about the deaths of four people or what this attack means for American national security.
Watch here, starting around 4:00 he begins to loosen up and the smiles start breaking through the veneer (you have to see this to really appreciate just how creepy it is):
Pictures of Romney during the Q & A (just a hint: the universal facial expressions that signal concern or awareness of gravity usually involves eyebrows knitted together or raised from the inner eye, with a drawn or pursed mouth – not a smile or a cocky tilt of the head or a smirk). Click on image to enlarge and start slideshow:
If you saw the above pictures with no context, would you guess that four Americans had just been murdered or would you guess that someone just told Mitt Romney that his polls were up? And no, I didn’t just grab gotchas. He could not contain the smile through the Q & A.
Yesterday, after Putin blamed Romney’s “number one geopolitical foe” gaffe for his opposition to our missile defense plans, I wondered how Romney could be so reckless with his country. Surely he worries about his family’s safety at the very least.
But then I realized Romney doesn’t really need to care about his family’s safety; he has the money and the means to high tail it out of here in the event of an attack, and he can take the entire family with him. It’s only the rest of us who are at risk.
The disparity between Romney’s words and the facial expressions is troubling. Which are we to believe? Facial expressions are where scientists put their money and where I’d put mine, especially over a prepared statement. Though the science of statement analysis gives us clues here as well, which I noted earlier. Most telling was what Romney thought the real mistake was here — and that was for terrified people inside of the embassy to issue a statement that insulted Romney’s idea of how Poujadist Americans should never apologize for being bigots.
It’s as if he has no ability to empathize enough to figure out that in moments leading up to an impending attack, allegedly appeasing the attackers is a smart move. What did Romney want them to do instead? Go out on the balcony and declare their free speech rights? That’s rich from Romney, who got four draft deferments in order to avoid service. It’s not as if he’s ever put his money where his rather reckless mouth is.
We don’t need a statement analysis expert to note that Mitt Romney got the Capital of Libya wrong three times in his speech, leaving poly-sci students wondering just what in the heck Romney is doing running for President.
When you put all of the pieces together, the endless debacles of Mitt the Twit do not speak as much to incompetence (though certainly they do scream not ready) as they do to an utter inability to relate to the people and events around him. Mitt Romney seems to be some weird cardboard Ken, running around stomping on people, our allies, and his dog and expecting them to love it.
This is the Mitt who swung the fire axe (hose, he says) through the Birmingham store as a prank, kept his terrified dog atop his car for a 12 hour trip, held down a classmate in order to cut his hair and didn’t remember doing it, dressed up in a Michigan trooper uniform and stopped his friends for fun, has no sense of awareness regarding the actual human people behind both our troops and the workers he’s fired, and whose wife tells us it’s “his turn” for the White House. This is the Mitt Romney who lies so much that the press can’t keep up with him, sometimes from hour to hour. And this is the Mitt Romney who is so prone to outrage over morsels he unearths from three feet under, while at the same time he is engaging in attacks roundly criticized for their basic lack of veracity.
No one is laughing now. In fact, while I’d suggest that all successful politicians have a touch of the narcissist in them and very strong egos, it’s looking as if Mitt Romney’s teflon heart is a bit sociopathic. That is to say, he consistently relies upon a double standard of pity, especially when wrong. Today, instead of admitting that he got it wrong, Romney doubled down on his callous attack. However, when Mitt Romney is attacked, we get perilously close to Sarah Palin Blood Libel levels of self-pity (often carried out publicly courtesy of his wife, who has claimed, for example, that Obama wants to kill Mitt).
Psychology Today notes that sociopaths rise in power and authority, so we will find more of them at the top. How to tell when you’re dealing with one?
Playing victim systematically, crying crocodile tears of victimhood without ever making more than perfunctory efforts to demonstrate commensurate pity to others-the closer one’s record gets to 100% on such behavior, the closer to certain “beyond a reasonable doubt” that you’re dealing with a real sociopath. They’re virtually never wrong and they’re always victims.
Mitt Romney evinces other traits of a sociopath. He’s shown consistent contempt for those who seek to understand him and he is an authoritarian, secretive, and paranoid personality who demands that we “trust him” on everything while refusing to tell us his policies or show us his taxes.
I don’t intend this to be an arm chair diagnosis, as that is best left to experts and there are raging debates within psychological theory regarding the definitions of both sociopath and psychopath. Indeed, there are many characteristics Mitt Romney does not fit, when you delve deeply into the debate. As noted in Psychology Today, people commonly refer to someone who doesn’t care about their plight as being a sociopath, when what they really mean is this person has no feelings for me. In Romney’s case, today sealed the deal that Romney’s lack of conscientiousness applies to many. It applies in the event of death as well.
The trick here is that sociopaths rely upon people’s unwillingness to question their behavior, and that failure has some serious consequences when you’re talking about someone seeking to be the leader of the free world.
What we have here, people, is a failure to communicate. Mitt Romney is painting a troubling overall picture of a serial liar who does not seem capable of responding appropriately to the feelings of the people around him. There’s no other explanation under which all of Romney’s oddities make sense, when you account for the behavior toward animals and his “pranks” as a teenager, the way he thinks speaking to the size of our military is the same as thanking the troops, or the way he ignores the plight of workers he’s fired as if they are nothing but a means to an end. And then there’s his odd obsession with his belief that Americans are jealous of him for his success — a belief he uses to excuse refusing to face the real life impact of his policies and actions.
I believe Mitt Romney loves his family, and I believe he’s been kind to personal friends. However, I see no evidence that he is capable of extending empathy or compassion to those not in his inner circle, those whom he doesn’t view as an extension of himself and therefore worthy of kindness.
Why was Mitt Romney was smiling with such barely contained glee today? Was he happy that a tragedy occurred that allowed him to attack the President? Did he stop to consider the issues of religious intolerance, war, death, loss, or even hits to the America he claims to love so much? Will he speak to our humanity first?
Did he not choke on grief when thinking of the loss of beloved Chris Stevens, the U.S. ambassador to Libya? Did he struggle with emotion when he saw Libyans holders signs saying “Chris Stevens was a friend to all Libyans” today? Did he feel anything when he saw pictures of the Libyans apologizing to us?
I did. And I want a leader who does. I want a leader who feels something about the world events their decisions impact. I want to know that the leader of the free world is capable of compassion and empathy for people unlike himself/herself and that he/she can handle dissent without claiming to be a victim. Most of all, and I know Mitt Romney is incapable of this, I want a leader who can admit that we and he/she are not always right. It is a sign of a sociopath to think you are always right. America deserves better than that.
Romney went so far off the deep end today that he managed to offend even his own party (and that takes some doing these days) and awaken our risk averse press. It’s time we ask the question, what in the Hell was Mitt Romney smiling about today?
Romney leaving podium image: Associated Press photojournalist Charles Dharapak