Friday, August 3, 2012

Reader, Weakly


Here's an article about The Rominee that might give some people pause. That's assuming there are still any on the right who'd like a thoughtful and at least minimally honest president. The piece is by Jared Diamond, who wrote a book that's been in my queue for a long time, and might remain there. At least I've never falsely claimed to have read it, or misconstrued its meaning. Mitt Romney did one or the other, and Mr Diamond isn't happy about it. The article begins:


MITT ROMNEY’S latest controversial remark, about the role of culture in explaining why some countries are rich and powerful while others are poor and weak, has attracted much comment. I was especially interested in his remark because he misrepresented my views and, in contrasting them with another scholar’s arguments, oversimplified the issue.

It is not true that my book “Guns, Germs and Steel,” as Mr. Romney described it in a speech in Jerusalem, “basically says the physical characteristics of the land account for the differences in the success of the people that live there. There is iron ore on the land and so forth.”

That is so different from what my book actually says that I have to doubt whether Mr. Romney read it.


There's a lot more meat in the stew, as the author alludes to the many factors behind differences among countries. And it concludes -- you don't think this has anything to do with why I mention it? -- by saying something I've also said, many times, many ways:
Mitt Romney may become our next president. Will he continue to espouse one-factor explanations for multicausal problems, and fail to understand history and the modern world? If so, he will preside over a declining nation squandering its advantages of location and history.
To me, it's not misconstruing the book per se that's the problem. My guess is he never read it but took a talking point from one of his ideologically blinded advisers and swallowed it like decaf coffee. It's the fact, as the author says, that's he's such a one-note and superficial candidate, without the tools or inclination seriously to evaluate what he says beyond its value as campaign fertilizer. Sure, it's but a small part of a big picture; but it's what you get when you select as your best representative a man who's never shown a desire to think beyond his own self-interest, and who'll do and say anything to advance it.

2 comments:

AlisonH said...

Thank you, Sid. I read Diamond's piece yesterday and wished it were read and spread far and wide, came here, and--wonderful. Thank you.

Romney's tax returns, whether he discloses them or not this close in, are going to sink him. There's just no way. And his treatment of Reid over the issue reminds me very much of the abusive now-ex-husband of a close friend of mine: everyone who faulted his actions was out to get him, he was always the victim, the wife he beat up, hey, it was her fault, she knew what made him mad and she set him off anyway.

Which is why that guy's locked away now and she freed herself of him.

We the people will declare our divorce from Romney's dissemblings. We just have to wait for that gavel to finally come down come November.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Romney's comments during his trip to Israel show him at his awkward, disconnected, misinformed best. In a quote(from the TPM website):
"Culture makes all the difference. And as I come here and I look out over this city and consider the accomplishments of the people of this nation, I recognize the power of at least culture and a few other things. One, I recognize the hand of providence in selecting this place. I’m told in a Sunday school class I attended— I think my son Tagg was teaching the class...He taught a class in which he was describing the concern on the part of some of the Jews that left Egypt to come to the promised land, that in the promised land was down the River Nile, that would provide the essential water they had enjoyed in Egypt. They came here recognizing that they must be relied upon, themselves and the arm of God to provide rain from the sky. And this therefore represented a sign of faith and a show of faith to come here. That this is a people that has long recognized the purpose in this place and in their lives that is greater than themselves and their own particular interests, but a purpose of accomplishment and caring and building and serving."

What? Is he using a Sunday school lecture as the basis for his view of the Middle East, Israel and that country's role in the world? Not to mention the Palestinian's position in all of it... Yikes. Also the GDP 'numbers' he quoted
were incorrect (Israel’s GDP per capita was $31,000 in 2011 and Palestinians’ per capita GDP was just $1,500.) But what was his message? Wealth=Virtue? God helps only those 'cultures' who are "good", therefore countries with low GDP's must be bad? Scary.

The Daily Beast has a piece today on how Obama will win in Nov (in case you missed it.)

DD

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