Thursday, January 10, 2008
been through all this election year nonsense before. Eight years ago.
. Of course all the pundits were wrong about what was going to
happen in New Hampshire Tuesday. And now they've moved seamlessly into
their most effective mode -- predicting the past. In a few more days,
they'll resume trying to predict the future, and they hope you'll be
But why should you? This part of a presidential campaign is far more a
horse race than a math equation. All the race track touts have their
own tips and systems for picking a horse to bet on, but you absolutely cannot
pay any attention to their
logic. They're part of the story they think they're standing apart from
and their presumed objectivity is a disqualifying joke. It's always
this way. For evidence of this fact I dug into the pre-InstaPunk
archives from 2000 for a couple of our columns about this stage of the
campaign that year. It was just as screwy then, and the pundits and
pollsters made just as big asses of themselves as they're in the
process of doing now. Take a look.
the Presdential Race
I know I was supposed to be covering the Presdential campaign, but I
a late start. The end of the NFL season was pretty absorbing for a
and suddenly it seemed like all the movies were being touted as “one of
the year’s very best.” (It took me a few wasted tickets to figure out
year they were talking about was 2000.) Besides, all the polls were
hadn’t gotten too interested in the campaign either, and why should I
myself out writing a bunch of great stuff about something you didn’t
So now I’m on the case, and it looks like exciting things are underway.
The last time I checked in, George W.
Bore were walking away with the major party nominations, and Pat
Buchenwald was getting ready to throw the big enchilada to the Dems
by running on the Reformed Party ticket.
Who would have thought everything would get so different so fast? Pat
is embroiled in a tougher race than the one he walked out on—competing
with the likes of Donald Trumph,
Ventura, Warren Beady (sort
and the ghostly spectre of Ross Pyro.
George W. did the impossible by spending $50 million in New
Hamshire to get his ass kicked by a white-haired Viet Nam POW. And
Al Bore turned the solid gold advantage represented by the best economy
in 3 billion years into a skin-of-the-teeth victory over a washed-up
player with a heart condition.
It almost makes me wish I’d been paying more attention. How about you?
Maybe you’d settle for a brief explanation of how this all came about?
Let’s hope so. Here goes.
Pat Buchenwald got into trouble because he figured the Reformed Party
swoon for a famous, college-educated (semi)politician who had been on
more than Ross Pyro. Like most of the ‘inside the beltway’
he forgot that college-educated doesn’t impress Amerians very much any
more, since everybody in the whole government went to Yail,
and anyone with half an eye can see they’re not too damn
And when you leave out the college-educated part, suddenly Pat
isn’t the top gun anymore, because here comes Jesus “The Booby”
who’s been seen on television by probably fifty times as many people as
Pat, and he’s been elected a governor to boot, even if it is in one of
those nothing states that start with an “M.”
When everybody in the media rushed to interview Jesus about being
people kind of lost track of Pat, and when all those interviews made
start thinking that maybe it wouldn’t be too smart to elect a bald
as Presdent, that gave Donald Trumph the idea to run, because why else
did he spend all those years combing his side hair over the big empty
on top of his head? Investments like that have to be cashed in
After the Reformed Party folks didn’t actually throw up at the thought
of a whoremaster like Trumph as the nominee, Warren Beady got the idea
that he might have a shot too. And does anybody think Ross Pyro paid
that money to set up his own political party just to see a bunch of
egomaniacs rip it to pieces? That scratching sound you hear is Ross's
digging in for a last-minute sprint. With all this going on, who’s
any attention to Pat? Maybe black and silver uniforms would help...
George W. got into trouble because after about six months of being
every half hour, average Amerians finally realized that the Bush who
running this time was the son of the one they dimly remembered.
Which was a completely different thing, of course. Completely. If John
McKane had realized it six months earlier, he would have gotten
the race a lot sooner—probably six months sooner. As it was, he had a
of catching up to do. After six months of voting for him in telephone
average Amerians were starting to feel like they knew George W. almost
as well as they knew his dad.
In fact, it wasn’t until the mass media started telling people how much
average Amerians admired John McKane for all his honesty about whatever
it was he was being so honest about that they realized how much they
always admired McKane before George W. distracted them by pretending to
be his own father.
All in all, there was lots of realizing going on, and most of it got
in time to give George W. a good thumping in New Hamshire. None of the
other Republians was ever in the race because the only thing they
about was abortion, which is the one subject nobody anywhere wants to
another word about. Thus, the first primary resulted in the two-man
we have today.
Al Bore got into trouble by being himself for many months of
Thankfully, an army of political consultants figured this out in time
convince him that the best strategy was to run as someone else, someone
like, say, Bill Clitton. And so
managed to come up with a perfect patsy for Al Bore to run against, so
that the Vice Presdent would have someone other than himself to lie
during the campaign.
Then it turned out that Bill Broadley
was almost too perfect a patsy—he campaigned so lethargically
inertly that Al barely noticed him and kept on telling all his best
about himself. As a result, New Hamshire was a closer vote than anyone
wanted, especially Bill Broadley, who had been given to understand that
he’d be able to go home after the first primary. When he realized that
the Bore campaign had been lying about this too, he got really steamed
and started hurling accusations about everything under the sun, which
First, Broadley charged that he had a debilitating heart condition,
he claimed that he was too much of an impotent intellectual to have the
guts for Presdential campaigning, and then he asserted that if elected
he would make the government pay everybody’s doctor bill forever, thus
bankrupting the country.
In response, the Bore campaign counter-charged that Al Bore would pay
doctor bill too, and that it wouldn’t bankrupt the country because the
Democratics would raise taxes on the Republians to pay for it, even if
Broadley did get elected. Faced with such negative tactics, Broadley
trying to weasel out of the race and consented to stay in a while
Having dodged a very big bullet, a much relieved Al Bore finally
to get the hang of Presdential campaigning and began telling only the
his campaign managers ordered him to.
All caught up? Good. I promise I’ll be checking in more often from here
on in. Okay?
Bush is done! McKane is done!
No, Bush is done
confusing here on the couch. If I didn’t know better, I’d think the
media don’t have a clue about what’s going on in the campaign.
McKane blows out all the poll predictions in a giant drubbing of Bush
in New Hamshire. The whole
starts going nuts for McKane. He makes the covers of all the news
The polls which had shown Bush with a 20 point lead in South
Carelina are suddenly showing him behind McKane.
explain that Bush’s people had always been dead wrong to think of South
Carelina as a conservative “firewall” for their man. Actually, they
Carelina doesn’t belong to the “Old South” anymore. They’re tied into
UnderNet like everyone else in the country, which means they don’t have
any morals anymore either, and so they’re not quite as enthusiastic
the politics of a Republian God who’s planning Armageddon for Satan’s
South Carelina is also overflowing with veterans, which means that
W. might remind them more of Clitton
than his dad, and McKane could attract their votes just by waving the
flag a little and swapping some raunchy war stories.
the way the pundits explain it, the South Carelina primary is also open
to independents and Democratics, which there aren’t supposed to be any
of in the state, except that there are, and they seem to like the looks
of a Republian who talks like a Clitton Democratic. And the whole time
the pundits are explaining all this, the polls stay close, and the Bush
campaign seems to be bracing itself for another, possibly fatal, defeat.
Carelina primary takes place. Bush wins it convincingly. The news
put George W. on their covers and talk about how tough he was to come
and put it to McKane that way. The pundits take to the air to explain
during the last frantic days in South Carelina, the honest and highly
John McKane had done some pretty negative advertising, going so far as
to compare George W. to Clitton.
out that the South Carelina folks aren’t quite as finished with being
South” as everyone thought—as the experts could have deduced if they’d
paid attention to their own tirades about the Confederate flag flying
the capitol. But, anyhow, the folks were still “Old South’ enough to
that a candidate who talks about being positive and honorable probably
shouldn’t compare his opponent to the scummiest presdent in Amerian
maybe he isn’t quite so positive and honorable as he says he is.
Any of the
South Carelinians who were slow to figure this out were nevertheless
to get some help from the Bush campaign, who called everybody in the
once an hour and preempted all regular programming on TV to explain
how unprincipled it was for John McKane to do negative campaigning.
Carelina now safely out of the way, the Republians run up to Mishigan
to explain to the voters how negative the other side is being. Since
has proven to be so much more effective at this than McKane, the
explain, the Arizonia senator is
in real trouble. Besides, the Republian governor of Mishigan has made
primary a vote of confidence for his own administration and is using
whole Republian machine to win it for George W.
news of all for McKane is that he seems to be losing his famous temper
quite a bit, and he’s no longer sounding like a brave, war-hero
What he's sounding like is a sore loser.
primary vote takes place right on schedule, and McKane wins big. The
race to the talk shows to say, of course, obviously, this was
The governor of Mishigan is unpopular, and everyone in the City of
Democratics, of course—voted in the primary, for John McKane, just to
off the governor. What this means, according to the pundits, is that
whole phenomenon of Democratics voting in Republian primaries will make
the race for the nomination into a real dogfight, one that could go all
the way to the Convention.
Next up are
primaries in the Commonwealth of
and Wishington State, both
more moderate in their politics than South Carelina, which is the only
place Bush has actually scored a victory at the polls. Time, the
tell us, to hold our breath.
Bush stomps McKane to pieces in Vagina and Wishington. It turns out
the Republians have decided to battle the Democratics by voting
for the candidate the Democratics hate the most—George W.
on the brink of Super Tuesday. The pundits are still busy explaining
happened in Vagina and Wishington, and what will happen in Newyork,
and a bunch of other states. But I’ve stopped listening for a while. My
head hurts. Maybe I’ll just wait for their explanation of what happened
after it’s all over.
I still think that's good advice. Wait for the explanations they think
up afterwards. They won't be any more correct, but they'll be a lot
more believable if you're the kind who believes people really can be
smarter after the fact than before.