The reason, of course, for Michael's spotty record as a decision-maker is that he's one of the most muddle-headed characters on the funny pages. From the earliest days of the strip to the Settlepocalypse, we see him leap from one faulty conclusion after the other and it messes up life for everyone. Here are some of my favorite lapses in logic:
- The weird notion that his parents were about to put him out on the curb with the rest of the old trash they didn't need any more when they brought Lizzie home from the hospital; the end result of this was years of pointless nastiness that always got him into trouble.
- His constant whining every time Elly started discussing getting a job or go to night school seems based on the belief that she wants to work outside the home because she hates him and wants to get away from him. What really hurts is that years later, he wished that she could have somehow found the time to continue the education that her guilty conscience made her give up.
- The confusing notion that it's always the fault of the accuser when he's punished for misbehavior; to him, it's not about him being a destructive twit, it's about Lizzie/his mother/Teacher for not having a sense of humor. This is, of course, symptomatic of the baffling notion he has that no matter how many times he does a particular stupid thing, he won't get punished.
- Finally, we have to deal with his belief that, despite his being Nature's Perfect Patsy, he is large and in charge. This is why he never twigged to the fact that Deanna spent her life setting him up to take the fall for her attempts to get back at Mira for daring to impose structure and discipline into her life; no matter how many times we saw her goading him into exposing himself to unearned hostility, his vanity prevented him from seeing that he was being made a sap of.
You'll have noticed that the examples I've given all point to his infantile self-absorption, need to shift blame for his bad actions to his victims and smug ignorance; he never has grown out of thinking the world rotates around his whims, never admits that he might be the cause of his misfortunes and has never managed to correct what we may call a recto-cranial inversion. It would be bad enough if he were simply an exception to a rule; what makes it worse is that he was raised by chumps to be a chump. John is too impatient, foul-tempered and hidebound to reflect on what he's doing or why and Elly is either halfway to the loony-bin with rage or blaming everyone in the God-damned world for her mistakes most of the time so it's not as if he were exposed to clear thinking growing up. This means that he'll spend the rest of his life believing absurdities, spouting pseudo-profundities and writing books that show no sign that he understands how regular human beings think.