Wednesday, November 12, 2008

All Kinds of Stupid: The Bush & Palin Story

Most people have such a simple idea of dumb. Like there's only one kind of dumb in the world, and you're either dumb or you're not. But the reality is that there are all kinds of dumb. Like when it comes to social skillz, I'm totally dumb. Seriously. And while I've learned to compensate for that by being the most interesting person in the world, it doesn't make up for the fact that I'm still socially retarded. Or when it comes to manipulating people, I just can't do it. I'm that guy who just likes to put it all out there and hope things work out for the best. While I'm a keen observer of human nature, I've never really been able to use that ability to actually get anything extra out of people.

But, in fact, there's a reason for this; I'm quite convinced that if you're empathetic enough to understand the perspective of the people around you, then you're too empathetic to take advantage of them. Because you see it all. You see them for who they are. You feel for them. And you're paying so much attention to the messages that they're sending that you're just no good at sending messages of your own. Or at least, that's how things are for me.

Or for social mannerisms, I'm just no good at them, for the same reason. Rather than mirroring the social mores of others, I'm too busy observing them. I take it all in. And while I really am great at being the center of attention (and if you ever meet me, you'll agree that I own the center of attention), I find it just as stimulating to sit outside of a group and watch them interact. It's just interesting, and it helps me understand life better. That's how I got to be so fucking smart; just watching others interact.

Mirrors v. Windows

And the thing is, I suspect that these traits are mutually exclusive. People who are good at manipulating others aren't empathetic. They don't even understand what they're doing. Rather than soaking in what others do, they reflect everything. They're mirrors, not windows. Nothing gets through. And they can reflect back the mannerisms of whomever they're with in order to get whatever they want. They can manipulate you because they don't understand you; they're just taking advantage of whatever it is you're sending out.

But of course, it's not an on-or-off thing, and there are varying degrees in everyone for how much we soak in and how much we reflect; with the people at both ends of the spectrum finding themselves incapable of having true interactions with others. The total introverts never have the physical connection with others, and the total extroverts never have the mental connection. And most of us find ourselves somewhere in between. But without a doubt, it's the people on the mirror side who are most likely to succeed. Like it or not, the extroverts will rule the earth.

And that explains why President Bush and Sarah Palin have been as successful as they are. Because they're mirrors. They're manipulators. But they don't understand how. They're just like brainless sharks, acting on reflex. Not that they're brainless, but that there is little real thought to what they're doing. Manipulating people is just natural for them, and they've found it so easy to get what they want out of people that they never even really have to work too hard at it. They lack character because they never had to work too hard to get what they wanted. They don't even really know how they do it, though they're aware enough of that they get it done. And to them, this makes them the cleverest people in the world. And by some standards, I suppose they are.

Winning One for the Palin

But nonetheless, they're idiots; Palin more so than Bush. Complete morons, by any real standard of intelligence. Bush at least was raised in a political family and has an inate ability to grasp the grand scheme of the political landscape. But Sarah Palin has only had herself. It's not about living up to some family standard or winning one for the team, like Bush. It's about her getting ahead; always moving ahead. And in Wasilla, that meant politics. And I don't know the exact details of how she did it, but being able to convert that into a governorship. But it was never about anything bigger than that. She didn't even have the sophiscated worldview of Bush, which taught him from birth that he deserved the very best.

No, for Sarah Palin, is was just about getting ahead. Getting out of the podunk world she was born in and moving into something better. Anything better. This wasn't about becoming president. It was just about being something better than she was. And if she had entered a corporate environment, she'd be the one who ended up as your unworthy boss and would never have considered politics. But there was no real agenda to any of this. No real plan. It was just using the social skillz she was born with to the best of her abilities. And she did that. She said the words she needed to say and manuevered the people she needed to manuever, and it all just worked a point.

But all the same, she was a moron. Just like Bush is a moron. No, their brains function just fine. They're just not like the brains us nice people have. They're designed differently, and meant to give different outcomes. They might see the same things we see, but none of it soaks in. It all just reflects right back to look like whatever it was you were casting out, which is why the conservatives who "vetted" Palin imagined that she was perfect, because she told them exactly what they wanted to hear. And for this, they're allowed to rise up the ranks to levels that the rest of us never even consider.

Not that they deserve it, but because they can convince enough people that they deserve it; and that's what it's all about. Like it or not, appearances are often more important than realities, and these people were made for appearances. We just need to learn to deal with it.

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