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.
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