The Phony Campaign

2011-12-18 Update

[phony baloney]

Barack Obama rocketed right to the top of the phony poll this week with… waitaminnit… 166 million hits!?

Query String Hit Count Change Since
"Barack Obama" phony 166,000,000 +149,800,000
"Ron Paul" phony 10,600,000 -23,300,000
"Newt Gingrich" phony 5,620,000 -5,980,000
"Jon Huntsman" phony 2,780,000 +140,000
"Mitt Romney" phony 564,000 -3,746,000

  • It might be a good time to remind Phony Campaign fans: Google hit counts almost certainly mean less than nothing.

  • In a debate last Saturday, Mitt Romney claimed that Rick Perry was misrepresenting what Romney's book said about RomneyCare, and offered to bet Perry $10,000 about the issue. Oh, my, what a kerfuffle erupted! The issue was not whether Romney was right or not (he was probably right); it was the size of the bet. Did it demonstrate that Mitt was "out of touch" with normal Americans? (Oh, and one silly Washington Post contributor cluck-clucked that betting violated Mormon church teachings.)

    Robin Hanson:

    So clearly we have moved high up into belief meta-levels here. "Yes, most people know Romney can afford $10,000, but some aren't sure that most others know this, and so this shows that Romney doesn't know about such folks." Or "It is rude to point out that you are rich, even when everyone knows you are rich. Yes wearing nice suits shows he's rich, but not wearing suits is socially unacceptable. Offering smaller bets is acceptable, however, so offering a big bet could be interpreted as bragging about wealth. Not that I'd interpret it that way, but someone might, and this shows Romney doesn't realize that."

    Geez it must be a pain to be a presidential candidate. This all shows how much we care about social savvy and signaling in such folks. We don't much care if they understand supply and demand, but they damn well better know who might try hard to be offended by what.

    Robin may be giving the people pushing this controversy too much credit. I suspect the outrage is 100% phony; the people dithering about it are trying to manufacture outrage.

  • In other Mitt news, did you hear that he adopted a Ku Klux Klan slogan for his campaign?

    Or so it was widely claimed, including by the Washington Post. But—to their (slight) credit—the Post appended an amusing, horrifying paragraph:

    Editors' note: This posting contains multiple, serious factual errors that undermine its premise. Mitt Romney is not using "Keep America American," which was once a KKK slogan, as a catchphrase in stump speeches, as the posting and headline stated. In a YouTube video that the posting said showed Romney using the phrase, Romney actually used a different phrase, "Keep America America." Further, the video that the blog posting labelled "Mitt Romney 2012 Campaign Ad" is not actually a Romney campaign ad. The video itself states "Mitt Romney does not actually support this ad." The posting cited accounts of Romney saying "keep America American" at an appearance last week. Independent video from the event shows him saying "Keep America America." The Post should have contacted the Romney campaign for comment before publication. Finally, we apologize that the posting began by saying "[s]omeone didn't do his research" when, in fact, we had not done ours.
    The notion that Romney's campaign wanted to send out a dog whistle to the Grand Kleagles was apparently too seductive for the Post reporter.

  • The Obama campaign hit on a new gimmick for fundraising:
    This holiday season, we're giving you a chance to have a little fun at the expense of a Republican in your life by letting them know they inspired you to make a donation to the Obama campaign.

    Simply enter their name and email address below. Then, we'll send them a message letting them know they inspired you to donate. (Don't worry--we won't hold on to any of their information.)

    The Bookworm received e-mail from Obama Deputy Campaign Manager Julianna Smoot that went into even more detail on why one might want to do this:
    Everyone's got that special conservative in their life.

    Maybe it's your dad, who forwards you every chain email about the President's birth certificate, or your neighbor, who just put up a Mitt Romney sign.

    Dealing with these folks can be ... frustrating.

    The unwritten but understood tagline is "… because we're so much better than they."

    Bookworm's comment nails it:

    … emails such as this one give us a great insight into the mind of the liberal, and it's not a pretty picture: Obama's campaign is smug, vindictive, sarcastic, immature and condescending. In other words, it's Obama himself writ large.

  • Jacob Sullum on Newt: he's not a fan.
    From the perspective of someone who wants to minimize the role of government in every aspect of our lives, Gingrich is bad in the ways conservatives tend to be bad--and then some. At the same time, he is generally not good in the ways conservatives tend to be good, which makes me wonder why anyone would prefer him to Mitt Romney as a presidential candidate.
    Well, Newt did a nice job on taking down the insufferably smug Scott Pelley. Other than that…

  • Also not a Newt fan: Sam Riddle at Gizmodo.
    Newt Gingrich Is Bizarrely Terrified of a Fake Sci-Fi Weapon
    The argument is about Newt's doomsday scenario of a hostile country detonating a nuclear bomb high up in the atmosphere in order to generate an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) that would knock out all things electrical below. Riddle's riposte:
    If we have enemies capable of getting a nuke over the US, which we don't, wouldn't we be more worried about that? Why would anyone want to turn off our lights instead of, say, destroying New York City or Washington? Why would any country start World War III with an attack that only might-kinda-work on paper? They wouldn't. Nuclear physicist Dr. Yousaf Butt, in a long analysis of the EMP threat, concluded "It is highly unlikely that any adversary would choose to--or, in the case of a terrorist cell, even be remotely capable of-carrying out a nuclear EMP strike against the US." And yet, Gingrich insists "We are on the verge of catastrophic problems."
    It's probably a good thing to have an "idea guy" out there who can come up with all sorts of unexpected scenarios and wacky ideas. Not sure it's a good thing for that guy to be the President of the United States.

Last Modified 2014-12-01 2:43 PM EDT