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For me, the maddening thing about an asshole politician isn't the fact of them so much as the question of what motivates them. What moral and psycho-spiritual fuckery drives one to seek out new and ever more putrid depths of douchebaggery?

I have a theory about Paul Ryan. He is, by many accounts, such a nice young man, and enough of a not-huge-racist to have had a long-term relationship with a black woman. Why, then, does he want granny to starve? How can he make that racist dogwhistle sing so sweet? Oh, I know the type -- the Upper Midwestern white boy, usually lower middle class (though the Ryans ran a fairly lucrative construction business), who fell hard for Ayn Rand at some pivotal moment in his high school hormonal crisis years and stayed crazy. When Ryan was 16, his dad died, with tragic suddenness, of a heart attack at age 55, and Ryan found himself abruptly half-orphaned, a boy made a man by cruel circumstance. Okay, wild exaggeration, but that's probably how it looked to him, anyway. And so, my guess is that he took all that hurt and that anxiety about being half-alone in the world at so tender an age and put it into this dumbass philosophy of radical individualism. He was alone in the world, but through sheer force of will he would conquer it! He built this! Except, of course, that he really inherited this, from the comfortable life afforded by the company his dad built to the good public school education he received to the student loans he went to college on to the indoor plumbing provided him by Wisconsin's Sewer Socialists, etc.

Now at some point, most of us with outie plumbing tend to entertain these sort of "Me against the world" fantasies. It's part of the generic masculine coming-of-age script. It's the leitmotif of 87.4% of rap music. Even when it comes in the collectivist guise of, say, Rage Against the Machine. And for most of us, at some point, we realize that in fact, we are all, as Martin Luther King, Jr. put it, "bound together in a single garment of destiny." But hey, way more fun to go on being the star of your own action hero movie, no? And so he did.

Bill Clinton: poor boy with abandonment and self-esteem issues. Wanted more than anything to be loved and accepted by powerful people. Pissed away much of his presidency and pretty much our entire financial regulatory apparatus sucking up to bankers and their pet "centrist" pundits, in-the-tank think tankers and so on.

Obama? Also some abandonment issues, but he does not give two shits about what the big money thinks about him. Makes the motherfuckers crazy, too, because they thought he was one of 'em, when actually, turns out he's the real radical individual. He's the Honey Badger of politics. Dealt with being rejected by his dad and thrown in the deep end by his mom by growing an icy exoskeleton of cerebral indifference and unflappability. Can probably shoot fucking ice beams out of his eyes like Bizarro Superman or something.

But Romney? I get nothing. No core beliefs. Nothing. Not even pathos. He's just an empty suit looking to move up in the corporate structure, score the keys to the ultimate C-Suite. And he'll do anything to get there. In more generous moments, I think he just wants to make his dad proud. But that's probably humanizing him too much. His ambition is bloodless, serving no end but its own. His greed is impersonal. It just is. He acquires for the sake of acquisition. Behind the Norman Rockwell painting, beyond the Pinstripe Daddy positioning, there's nothing.

Mitt Romney is a virus.

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