Psychotherapists often talk about the difference between “wanting to be right” and “getting what we want”. Many of us, myself included, often prefer to be right — or what we believe to be right — even if it interferes with our larger goals.
This is the kind of behavior that destroys marriages. It can also have a detrimental impact on politics and the world at large.
At this moment, we can observe it in some people’s reactions to Mitt Romney. They are sure they are right that something is wrong with Romney and everything he says … or doesn’t … or supposedly doesn’t … is construed as evidence of this.
This happens in the most obvious instances, as in the case of Obamacare, which Romney has asserted more times than Carter’s has Little Liver Pills that he immediately, on election, will work to repeal; yet many just refuse to believe him — or don’t want to believe him or, in some weird cases, refuse even to hear what he is saying. (Yes, it’s possible he’s lying, but he made this promise so often he would have to be almost pathological to renege on it. This is far from the case of Bush 41 saying, “Read my lips — no new taxes.” It’s as if Bush said it ten thousand times.)
Other more sophisticated examples abound. At the National Review, my friend Michael writes: “Instead, from the front-runner we get patriotic bromides and half-exculpatory statements about the president, such as, ‘he’s in over his head.’ But the fact is, Barack Obama is not in over his head. As Andy and some idiot have pointed out recently, he’s doing exactly what he intends to do — fundamental transformation of the United States of America — exactly at the politically permissible speed.”
Well, yes, but in fact no evidence exists that Romney doesn’t understand exactly what Obama stands for or is doing, just as well as the writer or anybody else. Moreover, I would agree with the former Massachusetts governor that the president is “in over his head.” You can be both a neo-Alinskyite with a dog-eared copy of the Port Huron Statement under your pillow and be “in over your head.” Those things are in no way mutually exclusive, and Obama has demonstrated a fair degree of incompetence mixed with an ideology honed, to whatever degree, by the likes of Bill Ayers and Rashid Khalidi.
So why pick on Romney over this? In truth, we are in the era of Romney Derangement Syndrome. It has gone so far that in the PJ Media comments today that someone wrote there was no hope for the country because Obama and Romney were both Marxists.
Really? The co-founder of Bain Capital is a Marxist? Well, I suppose if Bain were wildly unsuccessful you could hypothesize some kind of Cloward-Piven covert sabotage of our economic system was being attempted. But it wasn’t — and isn’t.
No, something else is going on. Feelings are being projected onto Romney, angry feelings. And these feelings are heightened by the fact that the ideological differences between the three leading candidates are relatively minor. The importance of personality has been increased out of all proportion.
In this regard, Romney is disliked, even despised by some, because he is “an elite.” But in reality all the candidates are elites. No real outsiders are running for president this time and never have been — with the lone exception of Herman Cain. Indeed, every person whose name is bandied about as a possible candidate in a brokered convention is also an elite.
Elites (generals, governors, senators, an occasional congressman) are, finally, those who almost always obtain high office in our society. Is this a good thing? Arguments can be made on both sides, but something has to be said in favor of experience when it comes to managing a country as big and powerful as the United States of America at a time of tremendous international instability and economic crisis.
Is Mitt Romney the man to do this? Again, arguments can be made on both sides. But enough of the Romney Derangement Syndrome. Hating Mitt Romney is not only useless. It’s self-destructive.