The Phony Campaign

2011-10-09 Update

[phony baloney]

Chris Christie and Sarah Palin took themselves OUT of the running this week. At Intrade nobody was sufficiently impressed with the remaining candidates to raise them above our (arbitrary) 4% threshold, so we're down to looking at the phony numbers for three GOP candidates.

Query String Hit Count Change Since
"Rick Perry" phony 13,800,000 0
"Mitt Romney" phony 7,830,000 +4,600,000
"Barack Obama" phony 7,090,000 -120,000
"Herman Cain" phony 2,860,000 +520,000

In an unusual development, politicians got some stiff phony competition this week from non-pols:

  • Margie Phelps of the homosexual-hating Westboro Baptist Church announced plans to picket Steve Jobs's funeral via her iPhone.

  • Not to be outdone, the "Occupy Wall Street" protesters professed to be outraged at "greed". Simultaneously, they emitted a proposed list of demands that can fairly be summed up as: "give me a bunch of free stuff I don't have to work for."

Could mere mainstream politicians hope to compete with this phoniness? They tried:

  • The First Lady made an effort to reassure Americans that she and Barack were Just Plain Folks by slipping out to the Alexandria Target for a few things. With her "assistant", of course. And a Secret Service detail arriving 30 minutes ahead of her. And (just like you or I might do), notifying the press ahead of time, so the momentous event would be preserved for posterity:

    CBS News reports the pics were snapped by an Associated Press photographer who says he was tipped off that she would be there.

    Media alert: Pun Salad will be appearing at the Rollinsford (NH) Cumberland Farms around 1pm this afternoon to get enough gas for the year's final mowing of the Pun Salad Manor lawn.

  • Michelle's husband held a news conference; phony-wise, it was a lot of fish in a small barrel. (If you're interested, the Associated Press shot a few of them.)

    But this was grade-A phony:

    "I had a chance to meet a young man named Robert Baroz. [...] He's got two decades of teaching experience. He's got a master's degree. He's got an outstanding track record of helping his students make huge gains in reading and writing. In the last few years, he's received three pink slips because of budget cuts. Why wouldn't we want to pass a bill that puts somebody like Robert back in the classroom teaching our kids?"

    As the Boston Herald reported, although it is technically true that President Obama "had a chance" to meet Baroz, this did not extend to actually meeting Baroz. And although Baroz did receive three pink slips in four years, this was almost certainly a legal technicality forced by temporary budget uncertainty: he remains employed by the Boston Public School system. And putting Baroz "back in the classroom"? It's not clear he was ever in a classroom: his current position is "literacy and data coach", which involves "analyzing MCAS [state testing] data and applying it to teachers' everyday lessons."

    Baroz's primary skills seem to lie in the area of educratic rhetorical fog emission.

  • Mitt Romney (a front-running 61.9% at Intrade) issued a paper late last month: "Here is How I Will Control Federal Spending". At Reason, Peter Suderman analyzed:

    The first half of the essay might have better been titled "How President Obama, Who Has the Job I Would Like to Have, Didn't Control Spending, And Should Not Be Re-elected." But eventually, Romney offers his own zippy prescription for keeping federal spending in check--cut federal spending, cap it at a percentage of GDP, and then pass a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution.

    Suderman has his own criticisms, but here are a couple of mine:

    • It's nice to advocate a Balanced Budget Amendment. But here is the Presidential role in the process of amending the United States Constitution: none whatsoever.

    • Here is an important word that does describe one of the Constitutional tools the President may employ in controlling federal spending: veto. Here is the number of times that word appears in Romney's essay: zero point zero.

    As a front-runner, Romney can probably afford to stay "respectable", non-threatening, safe, etc. The risk is: maybe people will start to notice that his proposals don't involve him actually taking Presidential responsibilities seriously.

Last Modified 2014-12-01 2:44 PM EST