Our question for today is: How is Otherwise not like Newt Gingrich?
Is it that Newt is a fat, slimy old scoundrel with creepy teeth and Otherwise is not?
So Otherwise is a fat, slimy old scoundrel with creepy teeth?
Stop it. Otherwise is not a slimy old scoundrel with creepy teeth. You know what I mean. I mean that is not the difference Otherwise is talking about. The difference is that Otherwise is accountable.
A-cow-and-a-bull? How do you spell that? What does it mean?
Ahhhh, I see you are a Republican. No matter, perhaps this post can help your understanding.
Way back at the end of March, nine long months ago, we decided to set up a bracket-like approach for determining the Republican nominee. Forget all those polls and all that insider nonsense that Chris the Fix peddles. It’s time for bracketology. Pick ‘em by the color of their uniforms and their mascots—the Fighting Missionaries, the Strident Banshees, The Sanctimonious Santorums, etc.
It was a good idea, good enough that other columnists and bloggers have now swiped it, including Joe Klein. But the bigger idea was in the way we constructed our brackets, in which we noted that the Republican candidates were all stereotypes drawn from a relatively small set of stereotypical pools. There was the fat old southern guy pool (Barbour, Gingrich, Huckabee,) the Nixon-youth pool (Thune, Santorum, Pawlenty,) the technocrat pool (Romney and Jindal,) and the pretty woman pool (Palin, Bachmann, and Haley.) We also noted in a later post that there would probably emerge a Texan pool, which proved to be the case. The only candidate that really didn’t fit a stereotype was Herman Cain.
That original slate is also noteworthy for who we explicitly left out: Donald Trump, Mitch Daniels, Jon Huntsman, John Bolton, Buddy Roemer, George Pataki and Ron Paul. All of those were considered serious potential candidates at the time. Indeed, Bolton, Roemer, and Paul had already declared. But we knew then, and we know now, that they’re not serious. Our only mistake in predicting the reject pile was to exclude Ron Paul. He’s not a real candidate for the nomination, but his campaign is constructed to survive a few rounds into the tourney—he’s sort of the Princeton of this contest (basketball folks will understand that reference.) At the time of the original post, I was trying to be funny and he did not fit a stereotype, so I left him out. I should have put him in. I knew better and added him later. Still, a miss is a miss, and Ron Paul is a miss.
So how did we do in predicting the field? If you exclude the entertainers like Rush Limbaugh that we included in that first bracket in an attempt to be funny, pretty good. We predicted twelve entrants. Of those twelve, ten took some sort of shot. Of the seven we deliberately left off the list, four stayed out and three came in: Huntsman, Paul, and Bolton. So of 19 potential candidates, we called 14 correctly, or 73%. We should also get some bonus points for also predicting that some off the radar candidates would emerge and those would include a Texan and a governor.
Our only big misses were Ron Paul and Rick Perry. To be fair, we thought the “Texan” would be someone from the Bush camp, like Jeb or Mitch Daniels (an honorary Texan.) To those of us not intimately familiar with Texas, Perry seems just like W. But I am told by my Texas friends they are very different. Eskimos have twenty words for snow. Texans must have twenty different types of asshole.
But back to work. There are four rounds to the 2012 Republican tourney. In round one, candidates try to convince the money-men they can be trusted; in round two candidates try to convince the Base they can be trusted (the four January primaries and caucuses;) in round 3 the candidates try to convince the broader party they can win; and in round 4 they get their brains beat in by Obama. The first round is now complete.
So how did we do in predicting the first round? At the last debate, there were six participants: Mitt, Newt, Rick P, Rick S, Michelle, and Ron. And Huntsman says he is still running. So, let’s say those are our final seven. Our bracket predicted Mitt, Newt, Rick S, and Michelle correctly. 57%. (I’d be at 85% if I hadn’t let intellectual integrity get in the way. What was I thinking?) I also thought we’d see a slightly bigger field at this point– Jeb as the Texan, Chris Christie as the crusading governor, and Guliani for comic relief. I didn’t count on Perry hitting three quotas at once – a Texan, a governor, and a buffoon. Attaboy, Ricky.
Let me also say that predicting this looks easy after the games are played, but it wasn’t so obvious at the start. There have been lots of upsets. Three of our predictions went against conventional wisdom. We stuck with Gingrich when he was written off by the press, and predicted two upsets: Bachmann over Palin and Santorum over Pawlenty.
But what happens now? Good question. It now looks like we will see Gingrich, Romney, Paul and Perry emerge from the first round regionals, to be held in Iowa/NH/SC/Florida. There goes my bracket.
Still, unlike my basketball bracket, this time at least I still have a team in the tournament. I picked Mitt to win, and I am sticking with that call. He’s got name recognition, time in grade, truckloads of money, and, although this doesn’t appear to figure into the thinking of the party, he might actually be able to beat a centrist Democrat. But let me say I am not very comfortable with my pick. Mitt is doing his best to smile and pretend he likes the Base’s policies, but he’s no more convincing than Lucy was when she was hired to hawk Vitameatavegamin. Maybe it will get better with a few more spoonfuls, Mitt.
If I were a Democrat, I’d be pretty darn happy right now. The Republicans have set up a system where candidates must pledge fealty to a NO! agenda developed by the rabid fringe of the party. If they deviate from even one of the no’s (no taxes, no gay marriage, no abortion, nobama, no cooperation, no coloreds drinking from whites-only fountains) they are rejected. It’s a system almost guaranteed to eliminate electable candidates. Unless someone can find a way to bypass the early season primaries, and that may be Huntsman’s plan, it’s hard to see a good candidate coming out of this.
When I started the brackets nine months ago, I did not see how the Republicans could lose 2012. I should have known better.
Illustration by Paul Szep.