Romney’s Freudian Slips and Fluctuations in the Force

“We are going to talk about aspirations and American ideals; about bringing people together to  serve….to solve the urgent problems facing our nation. And when that message wins in America, it will be a victory for every American.

Today is a good day for America. And there are better days ahead. Join me in welcoming the next President of the United States — Paul Ryan.”  

                                      — Mitt Romney,  August 11, 2012

Just minutes ago, I happened to catch Mitt Romney announcing his running mate, Paul Ryan. It was a weird scene—a candidate for president, not even officially nominated yet, and he’s giving this speech on a giant warship. Romney’s creepy qualities were amplified by this militaristic setting. The setting seemed intended to show the base that after a summer of embarrassing gaffes, they’re as ready to go to war as FDR and General Patton were ready to go to war against Hitler and the Nazis. Only instead of Hitler and the Nazis, this time the enemy is Obama and his liberal/socialist elite. Two such righteous wars go together like Cagney and Lacy, like Romney and Ryan. (When I first wrote that I didn’t know that they were on the USS Missouri, the scene of Japan’s surrender at the end of World War II, a ship that was decommissioned in 1945.)

So the FDR/Churchill of this new war stands on a battleship to announce his first presidential decision and, in close succession, Romney makes two dramatic slips. In the first one, Romney replaced the word “solve” with “serve” in relation to problems. He began to say that he brought people together to “serve” problems when the text in front of him said “solve.”  

Before we take a closer look at Romney’s double slip (within one minute), a few words on the subject of Freudian slips in general.

For all his faults, Freud did nail down “slips of the tongue” as a significant phenomena that is rarely, if ever, random. Freud said that slips were never random. He demonstrated that when experimental subjects were asked to recite a random series of numbers of their own spontaneous invention, the numbers they created were far from random. When shown the list of numbers they generated,  the experimental subjects noticed old phone numbers and addresses and other significant numbers from their past.  

  Slips of the tongue are often the perfect opposites of random. Quite often they are precise, concise and witty insertions of truth from the unconscious. Out of the plastic face of false personality erupt these witty gems of unintentional authenticity. 

Dreams often employ double and triple entendres. This seems to be true of people who are not so sophisticated in their waking language. Like dream words, slips of the tongue are often very precise, funny and revealing all at the same time.  

From the Wikipedia entry:

“A Freudian slip, also called parapraxis, is an error in speech, memory, or physical action that is interpreted as occurring due to the interference of some unconscious (“dynamically repressed”), subdued wish, conflict, or train of thought. The concept is thus part of classical psychoanalysis.”

With politicians, especially ones really lacking in self-awareness like W, the slips often reveal the truth in a way that has a bipolar relationship to their public lie. It is  a necessary occurrence of opposites, like the black yin dot in the white yang, and the white yang dot in the black yin of the familiar Yin-Yang symbol. It is also the trickster aspect of the unconscious which acts, functionally, like an archetypal court jester who, with rapier wit, slips in embarrassing truths about the king and/or kingdom’s shadow. 

“Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we.”

–George W. Bush, Washington, D.C., Aug. 5, 2004 

(Links to audio or video clips of W saying some of these things can be found in

 which has an extensive collection of slips by W and Sarah Palin.) 

So when Romney’s unconscious tells us that he is here to bring people together to serve problems, not to solve them, we should pay attention. He is the servant of the financial elites that created so many of our present problems. And this is only one of the many ways that a Romney administration would be a servant of our current problems, and also serve us generous helpings of new problems. 

And then, as if this slip weren’t revealing enough, the double tap— two slips in less than a minute.  

We have arrived at the culmination, the climax of  Romney’s big moment, the official announcement of his first presidential decision. This is a big, heavy-handed as it gets, staged event with giant warships and movie-hero-taking-charge-and-bringing-a -new-dawn orchestral sound track swelling up at key, staged transitions. (later I found out the music was the theme from the 1997 movie Air Force One, an absurdly over-the-top movie where Harrison Ford as president goes into G.I. Joe, fist fighting mode to bring down terrorists who have taken over Air Force One). At the climatic moment, Romney, standing on the most famous battleship of World War II, introduces Paul Ryan as “the next President of the United States!”

 It was both shocking and eerie. Out there in the collective ether you could feel a momentary disturbance in the force as a couple of million people watching this live, including me, gasped. From beneath the robes of the would-be king peeks out the jester with his little bells and rattles and curled up shoes. 

Ordinarily, the all-confident Mitt Romney looks like a wooden, but even more power-driven version of Don Draper. Don Draper, for those who are unacquainted with the TV series Mad Men, is an all-confident advertising executive, part advertising visionary, part con man (if those are different parts) who is usually leading at least two duplicitous double lives. Many people have made Romney/Draper comparisons. David Axelrod, for example:

As Romney makes the announcement, his face is lit up with his typical I’ll inevitably seduce you into giving me power  grin—the grin of a Jack O’ Lantern crossed with a cursed ventriloquist’s dummy. 

 So often Romney seems an all-confident, Machiavellian trickster. But suddenly he tricks himself instead of us, and within one minute exposes both his real agenda and symbolically defeats and/or asassinates himself. 

He passes himself over as President to nominate Paul Ryan as our next president—Paul Ryan, who might very well have a better chance than Romney of one day being president—Paul Ryan who is almost infinitely more charismatic than the dislikable Mr. Mitt, whose charisma is roughly on par with Donald Trump or Jar Jar Binks.  

On a grimmer note, when someone who likes to thinks of himself as president introduces his vice presidential running mate as “the next president,” it suggests their unconscious expressing a  death wish about their intended persona. Vice Presidents usually become presidents through the death of a president. In fact, this is the purpose of vice presidents. They are the official understudy, ready to step into the spotlight if the lead dies or becomes incapacitated. An aspiring president talking about his vice president being president (during his term) is reflecting on his own death. It is also Romney’s unconscious saying that he is neither ready nor fit to be president and should be passed over in favor of someone from a younger generation like Paul Ryan. 

The mistake was so huge Romney had to come back on stage and admit it and correct himself. “I don’t make many mistakes” said Romney with the hollow reassurance of a front man whose whole life looks like a mistake to his own unconscious. 

At this point, I am tempted to conclude that Romney’s chances of being president are 20% or less. Obama, for all his other flaws, does not seem to have an unconscious consistently trying to defeat itself and reveal through opposites. No doubt, there are probably a few instances to be found in his mountain of public utterances, but would be crumbs compared to the goblin horde of twisted  slips made by W.  Obama did, however, make a parallel mistake in 2008, introducing Biden as the “next President of the United States” but he corrected himself instantly without missing a beat and it wasn’t the melodramatic moment of the U.S.S. Missouri.  

 W, the Freudian slip champ of all time, is a chilling reminder that it is too soon to consider Mitt Romney a self-defeating failed candidate. It’s possible for a  psychic scarecrow of a politician to make the most dramatic slips, slips that should make anyone with a grain of psychological insight shudder to even think about voting for him, and yet be elected president—and not just once, but twice.  As they say, “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.” or as W put it

“There’s an old saying in Tennessee — I know it’s in Texas, probably in Tennessee — that says, fool me once, shame on — shame on you. Fool me — you can’t get fooled again.”

Indeed, we can get fooled again. As H. L. Mencken put it many decades ago: “Nobody ever went broke overestimating the crassness of the American people.” 

With Reagan, everyone on the left could see through his amiable front. But with Romney, everyone on the left, and nearly everyone center or right, sees through him. Nearly everyone sees the grinning opportunist ready to say anything to get elected. Many people on the right find their dislike of Romney to be a dull, nauseating ache. But they also find that an achey, slightly nauseous discomfort can be sublimated if you have a white hot fury of hatred toward Obama, that Kenyan socialist/terrorist stealth Muslim, and his death panelist minions who want everyone in America gunless, Obamacared and gay married. 

If you exclude the hardcore Obama-hater types, and look at the election from the perspective of charisma, the momentum is with Obama. Charisma has been recognized as having paranormal aspects. (see my friend George Hansen’s seminal book, The Trickster and the Paranormal)

A modern presidential campaign can be viewed as a magical battle between two very well-heeled and staffed wizards. Attack ads are like spells cast into the collective mindscape. They are expensive poison darts that one wizard’s forces shoots at the other wizard. So far, the Obama camp seems to be decisively winning the poison dart war. In a tactically brilliant move, the Obama team spent huge, risky amounts of its campaign treasury  o define Romney early with a blitz of highly effective attack ads.  At the same time, Romney has been very gaffe prone—witness his extremely maladroit and disastrously undiplomatic remarks in England and Israel.  

From a Star Wars perspective, we would have to say that “the Force” is stronger with Obama, even if we’re not always sure exactly which parts of the Force Obama is accessing. Of Romney we would have to say that, The more you tighten your grip, Mitt, the more star systems and Freudian eruptions will slip through your fingers.


If it seems like I am overstating the meaning of Romney’s two slips, here’s just a few gems from the vast goblin horde of W slips.

“The truth of that matter is, if you listen carefully, Saddam would still be in power if he were the president of the United States, and the world would be a lot better off.”

–George W. Bush, second presidential debate, St. Louis, Mo., Oct. 8, 2004

“I can only speak to myself.”

–George W. Bush, Washington, D.C., April 28, 2005

“I think if you know what you believe, it makes it a lot easier to answer questions. I can’t answer your question.”

–George W. Bush, in response to a question about whether he wished he could take back any of his answers in the first debate. Reynoldsburg, Ohio, Oct. 4, 2000

“The only things that I can tell you is that every case I have reviewed I have been comfortable with the innocence or guilt of the person that I’ve looked at. I do not believe we’ve put a guilty … I mean innocent person to death in the state of Texas.”

–George W. Bush, NPR, June 16, 2000

“Who could have possibly envisioned an erection — an election in Iraq at this point in history?”

–George W. Bush, at the White House, Washington, D.C., Jan. 10, 2005

The most important job is not to be governor, or first lady in my case.”

–George W. Bush, Pella, Iowa, as quoted by the San Antonio Express-News, Jan. 30, 2000

“I want to thank my friend, Senator Bill Frist, for joining us today. You’re doing a heck of a job. You cut your teeth here, right? That’s where you started practicing? That’s good. He married a Texas girl, I want you to know. Karyn is with us. A West Texas girl, just like me.”

–George W. Bush, Nashville, Tenn., May 27, 2004

“I want everybody to hear loud and clear that I’m going to be the president of everybody.”

–George W. Bush, Washington, D.C., Jan. 18, 2001

“If this were a dictatorship, it’d be a heck of a lot easier, just so long as I’m the dictator.”

–George W. Bush, Washington, D.C., Dec. 19, 2000 ( Listen to audio clip )

“Let me put it to you bluntly. In a changing world, we want more people to have control over your own life.”

–George W. Bush, Annandale, Va , Aug. 9, 2004

“Well, I think if you say you’re going to do something and don’t do it, that’s trustworthiness.”

–George W. Bush, in a CNN online chat, Aug. 30, 2000

“What I’m suggesting to you is if you can’t name the foreign minister of Mexico, therefore, you know, you’re not capable of what you do. But the truth of the matter is you are, whether you can or not.”

–George W. Bush, as quoted in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Nov. 6, 1999

“But I also made it clear to [Vladimir Putin] that it’s important to think beyond the old days of when we had the concept that if we blew each other up, the world would be safe.”

–George W. Bush, May 1, 2001

“I know how hard it is for you to put food on your family.”

–George W. Bush, Greater Nashua, NH, Chamber of Commerce, Jan. 27, 2000

“As you know, these are open forums, you’re able to come and listen to what I have to say.”

–George W. Bush, Washington, D.C., Oct. 28, 2003

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