F. Scott Fitzgerald famously said, "The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposing ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function." That's also very close to the definition of cognitive dissonance. The difference is that in the former, the mind "retain[s] the ability to function," whereas in the latter, the tension drives you mad and you end up voting for Mitt Romney.
Every time Republicans open their mouths this summer, it's not the heat, it's the stupidity. If you try to apply logic to a political party that believes contraception leads to out-of-wedlock births, then you're just going to give yourself a migraine.
Republicans believe that government spending causes unemployment. But we can't cut the defense budget, because that would put people out of work.
Republicans say that the wealthy need the incentive of massive tax breaks to create jobs, but the same logic does not apply to the people doing the jobs. According to Republican logic, abolishing the minimum wage would unleash the entrepreneurial spirit of the working class.
In Texas, we've got a lot of Republicans who work all week sucking dinosaur juice out of the ground and then go to church on Sunday where they learn Earth is only 6,000 years old. They might spend the afternoon trying to keep their lawns green despite record-breaking temperatures, secure in their belief that global warming is just a liberal hoax.
On Wall Street, investment bankers rail against new regulations that stifle innovation while we're still cleaning up from their financial Katrina. These same bankers demand they be allowed to use the bailout to give bonuses to the jackwagons who ruined our economy. Otherwise they'd quit.
The Republican Congress just passed a new farm bill that increases farm subsidies by $9 billion -- and pays for the increase by cutting food stamps. Under Republican logic, you pay people to grow food by making it harder for people to buy food.
Republicans think it's OK to invite Indians to come to America for well-paying high tech jobs. But it's not so bueno for Mexicans to sneak over the border to pick our fruit, scrub our toilets and do our dishes. Somehow those are the jobs worth protecting.
Joe Biden tried to make sense of Republican logic the other day. "Mitt Romney wants you to show your papers, but he won't show us his," he said. Biden was referring to Republican efforts to treat American voters like illegal immigrants by demanding they buy special government ID. There are 3,615 times more UFO sightings in America than there are cases of voter fraud. Heck, there are more exploding toilets every year than there are people showing up to vote under false pretenses.
But that's not really the point. Pennsylvania House Majority Leader Mike Turzai accidentally told the truth recently when he bragged, "Voter ID, which is going to allow Gov. Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania, done." The scary thing is that he might be right. The number of otherwise-eligible Pennsylvania voters who lack the required ID exceeds Barack Obama winning margin in 2008.
The Republicans' righteous fervor for self-disclosure doesn't seem to apply to Mitt Romney, though. God forbid he should show Americans the same tax returns he showed John McCain in 2008 when he unsuccessfully auditioned for the vice presidential nomination. I'd like to know what was in those returns that made Sarah Palin seem like a smarter choice, but maybe that's just me.
Romney has a special talent for cognitive dissonance, which might be why he won the Republican nomination. After drawing golf claps and scattered boos from the NAACP convention, Romney had the bad taste to tell his donors that those black folks he talked to didn't like him because "they want more stuff from government." I guess if you use Republican logic, it's not a contradiction that he took a $77,000 tax deduction for Rafalca, his dancing horse that will compete this summer in the Olympics.
Cognitive dissonance never seems to bother Republicans. Their minds continue to function, after a fashion, and pay no penalty in the polls. Meanwhile, I'm making myself nuts struggling to make sense of the non-sequiturs that pass for Republican policies. If Fitzgerald was right, then maybe Mitt Romney has a first-rate mind after all.
Follow Jason Stanford on Twitter: www.twitter.com/JasStanford