Republican speculation, via psychic powers

2011-03-07

in Films and movies, Internet matters, Politics

The other night, talking with my friend Jessica, it occurred to me that it could be possible to set up a kind of internet sensation based around the upcoming American presidential election (how early they become ‘upcoming’!) and ‘psychic’ claims of the sort that made an octopus famous during the World Cup. All you would need is pictures of all the plausible Republican contenders and some mechanism for deciding who among them will win on the basis of supposed supernatural powers. An octopus could work. Another idea would be a very young baby, the cuter the better.

In order to draw things out and give advertisers time to start hocking their wares alongside your videos, you could follow a process of elimination, in which candidates are rejected rather than selected. Naturally, you would want to rig the selections so as to produce the most total viewership. A good idea would be to do something a bit controversial at the outset – like reject Sarah Palin. Then, start working through the no-hope candidates as you are building momentum. Rigging the outcomes would be incredibly easy: just keep making videos until you get one where your preferred selection is made.

By the end of the Republican primary competition, when there are only a few plausible candidates left in the race, there would be a reasonable chance that you could simply guess correctly, cementing the reputation of your chosen psychic vessel as the real deal, at least in the eyes of a credulous few. Naturally, you would then want to make a prediction on the actual election. Chances are, you will be able to guess correctly on the basis of sophisticated polling of the Nate Silver variety, along with an assessment of key economic indicators.

If you wanted to keep exploiting the gullibility that seems widespread within the general public, you could use your advertising earnings as seed money to start a cult.

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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

EK March 7, 2011 at 3:21 pm

Not on topic, but I am CRAZY about this photo.

Sasha March 8, 2011 at 6:25 pm

Very interesting post, and an amazing picture. Could you email me a high-res copy to use as a desktop background?

EK March 9, 2011 at 4:55 pm

Ditto what Sasha said!

Milan March 9, 2011 at 6:48 pm

Here is the full resolution file for today’s photo:

Champlain Hill, Ottawa (6.3 MB)

. March 9, 2011 at 6:53 pm

The point, of course, is that it’s not just Mike Huckabee but the Republican leadership in general who are making fools of themselves.

Huckabee is just the latest to jump on this whole “birther” thing — the claim that Barack Obama is a Muslim who was not born in the U.S. and is therefore illegally occupying the White House.

It’s as though even old-guard Republicans are now on board an out-of-control train being pulled by a Tea Party locomotive. They know it could end badly, but seem unable to work up enough nerve to scream “Stop!”

Take Huckabee, a former presidential contender himself. In fact, judging by final delegate totals, he came second to John McCain for the party nomination in 2008.

Asked about the birther issue by a radio host recently, Huckabee replied eagerly that he’d “love to know more.”

“One thing that I do know,” he said of Obama, “is his perspective growing up in Kenya with a Kenyan father and grandfather, their view of the Mau Mau revolution in Kenya is very different than ours because he probably grew up hearing that the British were a bunch of imperialists who persecuted his grandfather.”

Well, hard to argue that the British Empire wasn’t imperial (or that it didn’t persecute a few people) but Obama didn’t grow up in Kenya. He never set foot there, in fact, until his mid-30s. So Huckabee had to retrench.

. March 10, 2011 at 12:19 am

As Republicans begin the process of winnowing down the field of 2012 contenders for one who can beat Barack Obama, they could do worse than to look for clues from the President they seek to unseat. Out of a sense of mischief or foreboding, Mr. Obama and his aides have gone out of their way in recent days to heap praise on Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman. The two ex-governors would rather forgo the flattery.

Next to an endorsement from Charlie Sheen, it’s hard to imagine what could sabotage a wannabe nominee in Republican eyes more than accolades from this Democratic White House.

The idea that the Obama team fears the candidacies of Mr. Huntsman and Mr. Romney more than those of any of the other potential GOP nominees is plausible. As solid centrists, they are the Republicans most likely to appeal to independent voters. The latter were key to Mr. Obama’s 2008 win, just as holding on to them will be crucial to his re-election.

So, the kind words are a clever use of reverse psychology on the part of Mr. Obama and his acolytes. And it could just work.

The absence of a clear Republican front-runner – an oddity for a party that has more often than not anointed its “next in line” as its presidential candidate – means the potential for an ideologue or far-right-wing outlier to snatch the nomination is greater this time around. That worries party elites, who would prefer a candidate who is electable over one who is ideologically pure. It could doom the party’s mass-market appeal more than at any time since the party chose the libertarian Barry Goldwater in 1964.

. March 18, 2011 at 11:28 pm

The Republicans in search of a nominee
A rival for the president
Bring forth a pragmatic Republican: he (or she) might win

Mar 3rd 2011 | from the print edition

CAN Barack Obama be beaten in next year’s presidential election? That is the question that a squadron of nervous Republicans are asking themselves as they weigh up whether or not to jump into the fray, an undertaking that will cost them hundreds of millions of dollars and prove intrusive, exhausting and quite possibly humiliating. So far only two obscurities have declared themselves, a pizza mogul and a gay-rights activist. But the field is about to start filling out (see article).

In 2007 the race was already in full swing by now. The slow start, many reckon, is attributable to a severe case of cold feet. Incumbent presidents, on the whole, win re-election. The only three to be turfed out since the second world war have been the hapless Jimmy Carter; and Gerald Ford and George Bush senior, who were both running for re-election at the end of, respectively, two and three terms of Republican rule. Mr Obama’s approval ratings, at around 48%, are respectable, and the economy is clearly recovering, though still fitfully (see article). He has a huge war chest and the slickest electoral machine that America has ever seen. He will, certainly, be hard to beat.

. March 18, 2011 at 11:31 pm

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