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Stupid Or Evil: Pick One, Romney

[Guest post by Nathan Pippenger]

There’s a common divide in political arguments between the “stupid theory” and the “evil theory.” According to the former, missteps result from inexperience, incompetence, or just plain dumbness. (See: Bumbling idiot George W. Bush.) The latter theory rejects the idea of “missteps” altogether, pointing instead to intentional outcomes resulting from malice, evil plots, or some kind of subversion. (See: Lying-the-country-into-war George W. Bush). You see the tension on display frequently within parties, but less often within the same faction of a party—for example, among Democrats, moderates were more likely to find Bush stupid, and liberals were more likely to see him as evil. But even rarer than a divide within one faction is a divide within the same person. Who displays this split personality, you ask?

You shouldn’t ask such silly questions. Of course it’s Mitt Romney, who can’t decide whether Barack Obama is stupid or evil. He can’t even maintain consistency on the question for two days! In the past, Romney has consistently cast Obama as “a nice guy in over his head,” particularly when it comes to jobs. Yesterday, Romney was a bit more pointed, telling Fox, “I find it extraordinary that this president has no vision for our economy.”

But just hours later, it would seem, Romney changed his mind: Obama has a vision after all. And it’s a dark, dark vision. In a speech delivered today, Romney warned that “President Obama is replacing our merit-based, opportunity-based society with an entitlement society.” “In an entitlement society,” according to Romney, “the invigorating pursuit of happiness is replaced by the deadening reality that there is no prospect of a better tomorrow.” Fundamentally remaking the economy and upending the pursuit of happiness in just three years? That’s a pretty big accomplishment for a guy with no vision.