Mitt Romney's recent overseas trip was designed to present the presumptive Republican nominee as a statesman, but to the contrary portrayed the candidate as an narrow-minded, insensitive, race-baiting, war-mongering, uber-pandering buffoon whose foreign policy and diplomatic skills make Sarah Palin seem downright Kissingeresque. It also served to reinforce the belief among many that Romney's issues stem from a more serious problem.
In the wake of yet another embarrassing episode of foot-in-mouth disease, I'm beginning to suspect that there just might be something psychologically wrong with the man who wants to be Leader of the Free World and Commander in Chief.
Rick Santorum was right when he said Romney lacks a core. To be sure, the man wouldn't know integrity or sincerity if it whacked him in the head. Everything about him is fake...from his unnaturally black hair and forced smile to his constantly changing beliefs. But his issues go much deeper than a mere lack of authenticity and conviction. Romney seems devoid of simple human characteristics and emotions such as empathy and compassion.
Romney's primary problem is not, as Democrats charge, that he's an out-of-touch elitist who can't "connect," but rather that he's a seemingly programmed robot painfully bankrupt of social skills and an ability to recognize the inappropriateness of his behavior. The man who believes that "corporations are people" is woefully deficient in his ability to detect the obvious frailties and vulnerabilities common among people. If Bill Clinton was "I feel your pain," Mitt Romney is "I feel nothing."
Romney has difficulty reading people, a room or the tone of a political event. His lack of empathy is why he's unable to understand why putting a dog carrier on his car roof is inhumane; why chasing, tackling and cutting off the hair of a high-school classmate might be cruel or bullying; or why he seems so baffled when called out on these offenses and can't muster a heartfelt apology. It's because his heart isn’t feeling it. It's because he isn't feeling anything.
So just what exactly is wrong with Romney? I’m not sure, but he certainly demonstrates some of the characteristics of someone with Asperger syndrome (AS), albeit one who is extremely high functioning. According to Wikipedia, "AS is characterized by abnormalities of social interaction and communication...The lack of demonstrated empathy is possibly the most dysfunctional aspect of AS... This failure to react appropriately to social interaction may appear as disregard for other people's feelings, and may come across as insensitive...An individual with AS typically demonstrates obsessive interest in a single topic or activity. Other symptoms include repetitive routines or rituals, peculiarities in speech and language, inappropriate affect or social behavior, problems with non-verbal communication, and clumsy or uncoordinated motor movements… Some may choose to talk only to people they like."
On many levels, the above traits aptly describe Romney's often odd and inexplicable behavior and statements. But is he “on the spectrum?” I'll leave that to the psychologists to figure out. One thing’s certain though: his consistent verbal gaffes, populist disconnect, and diplomatic impotence make him unfit for the Oval Office.