FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Hollow Man and the Pathological Liar

by CHARLES R. LARSON

There’s the apocryphal Indian story where the swami is asked what holds up the world.  When he answers, “A turtle,” the follow-up question becomes, “What’s holding up the turtle?”  And the swami’s answer: “It’s turtles all the way down.”

The Republican presidential ticket isn’t being held up by turtles.  It’s not held up by anything.  It’s nothing all the way down.  It’s nothing all the way down because one of the candidates is a hollow man, empty of any idea that might help the country move forward.  The other is a calculating liar, whose ideas can’t bear scrutiny by any rational means, despite Republican pundits identifying him as the philosophical center of their party.  So much for philosophy.  No wonder their party is losing in the polls.  You can’t keep fooling all of the people all of the time.  Hopefully, by the time people vote, it will be none of the people.

Mitt Romney has delusional thoughts of fixing the economy.  He constantly uses the term, “My plan,” yet his plan is invisible.  He hasn’t released the details because there aren’t any.  Ditto on every other major issue.  Last week when he wanted to demonstrate his smarts on foreign policy, he keep putting his foot in his mouth—as he has done repeatedly during the primaries and throughout his campaign for the presidency.  When was the last time someone said about one of his pronouncements, “That’s a great idea.  It might work.  It might fix the problem.”  No commentator ever says that because there’s nothing to praise, no idea to discuss, nothing to chew on.  Romney’s a total straw man—empty by any measure.

Paul Ryan was brought on board the Republican ticket because Romney is a blank screen (or—to use his boss’s term—an Etch-a-Sketch but changed so often that there’s no image).  Trickle-down economics; increase taxes on the middle class while they’ve still got a little blood in them.  Hasn’t Ryan looked any of the analyses of the consequences of tax cuts supported by the last two Republican presidents?  Was there ever a speech at a party’s convention as full of lies and distortions as Ryan’s?  Does he really believe that people will believe anything a candidate makes up?

Those days are over—kaput—ended on Monday when the airing of Romney’s comment about the 47% of Americans who voted for Obama revealed his true colors.  In a hastily announced mini-press conference, the candidate referred to his 47% remarks as “off-the-cuff,” indicating, still again, that Romney has no control of his syntax, no idea what words mean.  Psychologists say that “off-the-cuff” remarks reveal one’s true feelings.

Furthermore, as someone who voted for Obama four years ago, I resent being called a freeloader and a victim, someone who takes no responsibility for himself.  Though I’m retired, my Social Security (and my other retirement) funds are taxed at more than double Mitt Romney’s rate.  If there’s anyone who doesn’t take responsibility for his actions, it’s Mitt Romney, who is convinced that the 13% taxes he paid (for the only year  we can be certain about) are perfectly legal.  Legal, perhaps—but irresponsible.  Totally self-serving and indicative of Republicans who believe that only Democrats should foot the bill for America’s responsibilities.

So it’s shades of Chauncey Gardener (the famous hollow man created by Jerzy Kosinski in his 1970 novel Being There): nothing all the way down. Empty rhetoric, bereft of any genuine ideas about how to solve America’s enormous problems (fiscal responsibility, education, the environment, the infrastructure, immigration, and foreign policy.)

To put it more inelegantly: Bullshit all the way down.

Charles R. Larson is Emeritus Professor of Literature at American University, in Washington, D.C.  Email: clarson@american.edu.

 

 

Charles R. Larson is Emeritus Professor of Literature at American University, in Washington, D.C. Email = clarson@american.edu. Twitter @LarsonChuck.

Weekend Edition
February 12-14, 2016
Andrew Levine
What Next in the War on Clintonism?
Jeffrey St. Clair
A Comedy of Terrors: When in Doubt, Bomb Syria
Ismael Hossein-Zadeh – Anthony A. Gabb
Financial Oligarchy vs. Feudal Aristocracy
Paul Street
When Plan A Meets Plan B: Talking Politics and Revolution with the Green Party’s Jill Stein
Rob Urie
The (Political) Season of Our Discontent
Pepe Escobar
It Takes a Greek to Save Europa
Gerald Sussman
Why Hillary Clinton Spells Democratic Party Defeat
Carol Norris
What Do Hillary’s Women Want? A Psychologist on the Clinton Campaign’s Women’s Club Strategy
Robert Fantina
The U.S. Election: Any Good News for Palestine?
Linda Pentz Gunter
Radioactive Handouts: the Nuclear Subsidies Buried Inside Obama’s “Clean” Energy Budget
Michael Welton
Lenin, Putin and Me
Manuel García, Jr.
Fire in the Hole: Bernie and the Cracks in the Neo-Liberal Lid
Thomas Stephens
The Flint River Lead Poisoning Catastrophe in Historical Perspective
David Rosen
When Trump Confronted a Transgender Beauty
Will Parrish
Cap and Clear-Cut
Victor Grossman
Coming Cutthroats and Parting Pirates
Ben Terrall
Raw Deals: Challenging the Sharing Economy
David Yearsley
Beyoncé’s Super Bowl Formation: Form-Fitting Uniforms of Revolution and Commerce
David Mattson
Divvying Up the Dead: Grizzly Bears in a Post-ESA World
Matthew Stevenson
Confessions of a Primary Insider
Jeff Mackler
Friedrichs v. U.S. Public Employee Unions
Franklin Lamb
Notes From Tehran: Trump, the Iranian Elections and the End of Sanctions
Pete Dolack
More Unemployment and Less Security
Christopher Brauchli
The Cruzifiction of Michael Wayne Haley
Bill Quigley
Law on the Margins: a Profile of Social Justice Lawyer Chaumtoli Huq
Uri Avnery
A Lady With a Smile
Katja Kipping
The Opposite of Transparency: What I Didn’t Read in the TIPP Reading Room
B. R. Gowani
Hellish Woman: ISIS’s Granny Endorses Hillary
Kent Paterson
The Futures of Whales and Humans in Mexico
James Heddle
Why the Current Nuclear Showdown in California Should Matter to You
Michael Howard
Hollywood’s Grotesque Animal Abuse
Steven Gorelick
Branding Tradition: a Bittersweet Tale of Capitalism at Work
Nozomi Hayase
Assange’s UN Victory and Redemption of the West
Patrick Bond
World Bank Punches South Africa’s Poor, by Ignoring the Rich
Mel Gurtov
Is US-Russia Engagement Still Possible?
Dan Bacher
Governor Jerry Brown Receives Cold, Dead Fish Award Four Years In A Row
Wolfgang Lieberknecht
Fighting and Protecting Refugees
Jennifer Matsui
Doglegs, An Unforgettable Film
Soud Sharabani
Israeli Myths: An Interview with Ramzy Baroud
Terry Simons
Bernie? Why Not?
Missy Comley Beattie
When Thoughtful People Think Illogically
Christy Rodgers
Everywhere is War: Luke Mogelson’s These Heroic, Happy Dead: Stories
Ron Jacobs
Springsteen: Rockin’ the House in Albany, NY
Barbara Nimri Aziz
“The Martian”: This Heroism is for Chinese Viewers Too
Charles R. Larson
No Brainers: When Hitler Took Cocaine and Lenin Lost His Brain
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail