Good nerds vs. bad nerds

Those of you who know me personally know I’m a bit of a sci-fi nerd. I even co-host a weekly podcast on the subject, and can go on at length about the latest in science fiction media (film, television, comics, video games, books, etc.).

It’s of some interest, then, that Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney has now twice mentioned his interest in the genre. The problem, though, isn’t that Romney likes broadly-defined sci-fi — the problem is that Romney likes bad sci-fi.

Here’s Romney this week:

“I mean, I like the Twilight series. I thought it was fun,” Romney said. “I don’t like vampires personally, I don’t know any, but you know my granddaughter was reading it and I thought, ‘Well this looks like fun,’ so I read that.”

And here he is four years ago.

“What’s your favorite novel?” is a perennial campaign question, the answer to which presumably gives insight into leadership.

When asked his favorite novel in an interview shown yesterday on the Fox News Channel, Mitt Romney pointed to “Battlefield Earth,” a novel by L. Ron Hubbard, the founder of Scientology. That book was turned into a film by John Travolta, a Scientologist. […]

“I’m not in favor of his religion by any means,” Mr. Romney, a Mormon, said. “But he wrote a book called ‘Battlefield Earth’ that was a very fun science-fiction book.”

No, actually, it wasn’t.

Look, I’m glad Romney has shows some affinity for sci-fi. I consider it a positive trait. When asked for his favorite novel, I consider it a plus that a sci-fi novel was the first title that came to mind.

But it’d be so much more impressive if he had better taste.

For the record, President Obama has collected Spider-Man comics; he knows the name of Superman’s father; he’s a fan of Star Trek; and can, rather effortlessly, offer a Vulcan salute. I distinctly remember laughing shortly after the ’08 election when Ezra Klein wrote, “Obama is by far the most culturally awesome president this country has witnessed…. Forget beers: This is a president I could play Halo 3 with.”

If 2012 comes down to an Obama v. Romney match-up, there shouldn’t be any doubt as to where the nerd vote should go.