Social Awkwardness & the GOP

One of my favorite vignettes from The Simpsons TV show is Mr. Burns attempting to curry favor with his rank-and-file employees. His role in the show is that of the mega-billionaire owner of the local nuclear power plant and thus his arrogance and obnoxiousness is stretched to the max by the writers. But in this scene he has decided that he needed to be seen as “one of the boys” at the plant and so he sidles up to a small group of workers. Social banter is underway and Burns seizes the moment to offer an overture, “Hey, how ‘bout that local sports team, eh?”

Romney is socially awkward and stumbles in this social arena so often that I actually fill sorry for him. (I really liked that bit about “even the trees are the right height!”) The press just pillories him and I’m sure his party leaders just grimace every time he speaks publicly. But, heck, there is nothing wrong with being socially awkward! And I can live with that if he happens to persevere and when the nomination and election. It takes tremendous courage to trot yourself out every day, know that you have a problem of this sorts…and continue to show up. I admit it, I would just want to run to a corner of the playground and cry.

Ronald Laing once wrote extensively about social interactions and taught that to function socially…at least in an adroit manner…one had to offer a “tenable performance.” For, even though one might not be ostracized to the same degree as with sociopathy, maladroit performances make people, i.e. the “social body,” uncomfortable. And those who cannot muster a “tenable performance” might not be imprisoned or executed, but they will have a real problem is achieving the heights of Romney. How he has done it so far I can’t really explain. Other than perhaps money.


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