Would Mitt Pass An Empathy Test?

RombotReplicant Romney struggles to pass a Voight-Kampff  empathy test

“Forty-seven percent of Americans pay no income tax. So our message of low taxes doesn’t connect. And he’ll be out there talking about tax cuts for the rich. I mean that’s what they sell every four years. And so my job is not to worry about those people—I’ll never convince them that they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.” Mitt Romney, Boca Raton, Florida, May 2012

In one of the greatest sci-fi films of all time, Blade Runner, a film adaptation of Philip H. Dick‘s classic short story, Do Android’s Dream of Electric Sheep, four off-world Replicants (androids) band together and go rogue.

Aware that they have the bionic equivalent of apoptosis built into their circuitry, they sneak back to the earth. Their goal–to convince their creator, Dr. Tyrell, the head of the powerful Tyrell Corporation, to extend their rapidly expiring five year life spans.

The authorities are aware of their infiltration and a hunt ensues. A special LAPD unit called the Blade Runners is assigned to “retire”them. But the Replicants have gone underground, and so good are their external appearance and artificial personas that only a sophisticated test called Voight-Kampff can suss them out.

The test consists of a set of questions designed to elicit an emotional/empathic response.  Though heuristic marvels of artificial intelligence, the Replicants have a limited range of emotional experience. This becomes apparent when one of the Replicants, Leon, fails his V-K test.  (“There’s a tortoise in the desert… Tell me about your mother…”).  He near fatally shoots the first Blade Runner assigned to the case (who’ll be fine, Inspector Bryant observes, “as long as they don’t unplug him.”)

Enter Detective Deckard, a retired Blade Runner forced back into service.  To better ascertain the capabilities of the current generation of Replicants,  Deckard is sent to the the Tyrell Corporation to conduct a VK test on the company’s latest Nexus model. (Tyrell Corporation’s trademark is “More human than human”  which serves as the film’s overarching theme– human alienation, especially as depicted here on a planet of left-behinds choking on their own filth,  has advanced to a state where artificial persons are becoming better specimens of humanity than their purported masters.)

 Deckard arrives at Tyrell Corporation headquarters to conduct a Voight-Kaampff test

Tyrell agrees to share that info, subject to Decker performing the test on his executive assistant, Rachel, arguing that he wants to see a baseline “positive” before he shows him a Replicant “negative.” The clip below picks up where the first clips ends…

“How can it not know what she is?”

Which brings us to the latest Nexus model, GOP presiential candidate, Willard Mitt Romney. In addition to his comments in May about it not being his job “to worry about those people”, i.e.  the working poor, the disabled, students, military personnel, et al–  he demonstrated just this last weekend  his indifference to the plight of the Great Unwashed.

HuffPo has the details:

Downplaying the need for the government to ensure that every person has health insurance, Mitt Romney on Sunday suggested that emergency room care suffices as a substitute for the uninsured.

“Well, we do provide care for people who don’t have insurance,” he said in an interview with Scott Pelley of CBS’s “60 Minutes” that aired Sunday night. “If someone has a heart attack, they don’t sit in their apartment and die. We pick them up in an ambulance, and take them to the hospital, and give them care. And different states have different ways of providing for that care.”

This constitutes a dramatic reversal in position for Romney, who passed a universal health care law in Massachusetts, in part, to eliminate the costs incurred when the uninsured show up in emergency rooms for care. Indeed, in both his book and in high-profile interviews during the campaign, Romney has touted his achievement in stamping out these inefficiencies while arguing that the same thing should be done at the national level.

Now, I had always been under the impression that sociopathy was primarily the result of a malfunctioning amygdala, due to a genetic deficiency or through scarring from drug abuse. But Willard seems to be plowing new ground here. The clips I’ve seen of his mother and father argue strongly against an inherited problem. And unlike George W. Bush’s alcohol and cocaine binges that made him indifferent to the needless suffering of the victims of his Iraq War, Romney shows no indications of being a drug user.

As the last paragraph above notes, his previous position on caring for the uninsured is 180 degrees opposite of his position as governor of Massachusetts.  Given his long history of policy of flip flops, that’s not exceptional in and of itself. But when considered in context with his demonstrated inability to relate to average people, and his track record of utter mendacity, saying anything to anyone if he believes it will bring him one step closer to realizing his life long ambition to occupy the most powerful office on the world, we need to expand our understanding of psychopaths and sociopaths.

Consider, for instance,  this new study of psychopaths published in this month’s Scientific American:

 Traits that are common among psychopathic serial killers—a grandiose sense of self-worth, persuasiveness, superficial charm, ruthlessness, lack of remorse and the manipulation of others—are also shared by politicians and world leaders. Individuals, in other words, running not from the police. But for office. Such a profile allows those who present with these traits to do what they like when they like, completely unfazed by the social, moral or legal consequences of their actions.

As indicated by our White Horse Prophecy post, Willard certainly doesn’t suffer from a lack of grandiosity or sense of self-worth. His record as a corporate raider at Bain Capital demonstrates a high proficiency of “ruthlessness [and a] lack of remorse and the manipulation of others.” That his charm is superficial is underscored by his wife’s desperate attempts to “humanize” him.

Dr. Tyrell: To the white courtesy telephone, please.


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  1. Pingback: Someone Else Thinks Romney’s A Replicant | Voight-Kampff Romney

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