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The International Writers Magazine: Reality Check with James Campion

Joe Cool Carries The Two
• James Campion + Readers Responses
White House to Play Percentages in 2012 Race

For ninety interminably long minutes on 1/24/12, the president of the United States played his hand. All that anyone needs to know about the obligatory laundry list cum base rouser that usually fills a final first-term State of the Union address is that it's going to be the Summer of Populism for the most pragmatic chief executive of my lifetime.


This is how Barack Hussein Obama burst upon his first campaign for the job he eventually won in the autumn of 2008, and the way he has governed since. The White House will play the percentages, weigh the margins, and use the Karl Rove schematic for winning a national electoral election: Ignore useless national polls and vacillating approval ratings and figure the best way to get to the magic 270.
    While his proposed Republican challengers walk all over each other trying desperately to shift Right, mainly because two of the frontrunners have to distance a centrist to liberal past and get the party's nomination, Joe Cool studies the trends of a thorny electorate that has shown the kind of mercurial nature mostly exhibited by the bipolar. In the last decade alone the national vote has gone from geo-political to anti-war to wildly progressive to conservatively entrenched to whatever the hell is happening now.
     This is why Obama's State of the Union appeared to be written by less ideologue than actuary.
    The Numbers People are what matter in elections. They have the vital information on who is available to woo, who is already on board, and who is most likely to be courted. National politics is not sport. An election, as it is at every level, is a sum-game; the first one to the measuring stick takes the oath. Emotions, ideas, credentials; these are the tools of the loser. Winning a presidential election is about key numbers -- not the most, but the most within the most. Think of a Salvador Dali painting sifted violently through a Warholian blender. This is the Electoral College in action, a warped contest of democratic synergy dominated only by those who embrace nuance.
    And here's what Joe Cool's Numbers People read...
    Currently, the percentage of Americans jazzed about cutting deficits and protecting the Middle Class tax burden by raising the tax rate on the wealthy is 73.
    Seven out of ten Americans in this polarizing political climate is a margin akin to a Hugo Chavez election result. This will get the attention of even the most naïve Numbers People. As unpopular as any proposed tinkering with National Health Care was two years ago, which gave rise to the TEA Party movement, sticking it to the rich is even more beloved. This also includes the trendy Occupy Wall St. movement, whatever that is now.
    Not only has the idea of putting the squeeze to the wealthy grown in popularity since the hilariously unnecessary piss fight over raising the debt ceiling a few months back, but it has happened on the insistence of Republicans. Normally, or more to the point forever, Republicans have mocked deficit hawks as chicken-little anti-capitalists. This has changed, and thus become bad news for those who know that the only way to cut deficits and pay off the national debt is through either draconian cuts to popular programs or raising government revenues.
    Election year calls for austerity is shitty game planning. Ask Jimmy Carter. So it's raising revenue, and the way this works is whoever has the most is usually tracked down. Kind of like your rich uncle when your band was after seed money for that P.A. you needed to gig.
    The White House will be jacking up this winning formula to dizzying degrees if half of what we heard in the State of the Union can be believed, because 73 percent of anything sings the high note to 46 percent approval ratings and 63 percent wrong-track polling.
    Although much of the anti-Obama stuff, a fair portion of it fabricated by dumb-speak about a forged birth certificate, Muslim roots and socialist leanings, is white noise to Independent voters; the other key set of digits for the Numbers People.

In the last three presidential elections not skewed by Ross Perot, the Democratic and Republican bases equaled out at 42 percent each. This means that roughly 16 percent of the national vote is Independent, which rolled to George W. Bush in two elections and overwhelming in Obama's column in 2008. Recent polls have the Independent vote, including newcomers, which were predominantly Democrat in '08 but a fair portion have flocked to Ron Paul so far, ballooning to nearly 30 percent. However, much of this polling, according to the best Numbers People, cannot be trusted since there appears to currently be a rabid anti-government sentiment on both sides of the political aisle clearly borne out in the 11 percent approval for 112th congress.
    Still, neither party can rely on the base to elect their candidate. Independents remain the only source of gained votes, the individuals for whom every attack ad, stump speech and debate performance will be aimed.
    Finally, Numbers People, for all of this talk about "people", are not as interested in the human error of spastic belief systems and knee-jerk political climate changes. The actual "winning" lies in the Electoral College and its 270 votes needed to be president.
    Right now the White House has gone on record in surmising that with Obama's fat-cat coffers and concentrated canvassing of Democratic strongholds, the president is most likely to garner the John Kerry votes of 2004. This is what gamblers call an even bet, the short odds, the hedge numbers. This, according to Numbers People reasoning, leaves them 19 electoral votes to corral. No matter the national anger, the lukewarm base reception or the perception that we're careening toward the new Greece, 19 gets Barack Obama a second term.
    This, mind you citizens living in the non-numbers world, is an exacting summation without an actual opponent, which appears to most assuredly be either a rich robot or a raving lunatic; or if you are a student of recent history; Michael Dukakis or John McCain.
    So, while the rest of the nation and the world heard a State of the Union replete with political rhetoric and class warfare tactics wrapped in a red, white & blue gunny, friends of the Numbers People heard the cold clatter of calculation.
    Carry the two and hail to the chief!
© James Campion 01.30.2012


Mr. Campion,

Your assessment of the Iowa Caucuses and the fallout of Reince Priebus's drinking problem in the wake of the weak showing of a weak candidate in Mitt Romney was plain irresponsible. (HAWKEYE HOODWINK -- Issue: 1/11/12) While true, Priebus's wild man act has worn thin on Republicans, it speaks volumes to our concerns that trolls like New Gingrich might entertain the slightest chance to be president of the United States. Gingrich scares the living shit out of those of us who want this election to be entirely about the record of Barack Obama and not a lunatic idiot. The Democrats learned the lesson of making it about the incumbent or go home in 2004 and we must not go down that road.
    It is time a serious study is done on Priebus's meth abuse and then we'll be at the core of this Republican mess.

Mac Lucas

There is no way a dweeb like Priebus was power drinking over Romney's poor showing in Iowa! This is hilarious. Has anyone ever seen this whiney dork? Despite his almost perfectly suited name, he is right out of central casting for the eternally picked-on in a teen flick! The guy even looks like he's not old enough to drive, never mind drink. What is going on over at Reality Check these days? Has this election year taken all clarity from your considerable kitbag of political analysis?
    You have taken liberties before, but this one takes the cake.
    I am still laughing!

Zane Zane


As a former drinker myself, I must say that I enjoyed the whiskey wafting from "Hawkeye Hoodwink". I cannot describe how refreshing it is to find someone who can cut through the crap and present What's Happening in a finely crafted, condensed and Extremely Readable column.
    Personally, I believe that You are the new Road Manager for the Lords of Karma--and the baddies better watch out.
    I am Very Much Digging you work, and I just wanted to say Thanks.

Scott MacKenzie

Magnificent! Reince Priebus chugging whiskey and pushing around interns in a loutish fury is so completely antithetical to his nerdish demeanor it bares a striking resemblance to the famous Hustler piece about Jerry Falwell's first sexual experience with his mother in an outhouse. This is the kind of grit journalism and intense scrutiny that keeps me coming back to this column and reading the alternative voices in the Aquarian. Yours, of course, is so unique because it keeps alive the distracting but poignant call for order somewhere in this process that is sorely needed today.

Dawn Saber

Next you'll be reporting on Mitt Romney doing blow off teenage strippers in Bangkok.
    Um, please do that.


You're calling this for Romney already? I know the math does not add up for anyone else in these upcoming primaries, but I fear he's going to be one of those bland characters the history of America's runner-ups are littered with. There has to be someone who can do something about this abomination. Maybe if Santorum and Gingrich team up they would have the votes to stop it!
    Mitt must be stopped!
    Otherwise, it's Four More Years!

The Radical Tooge


It doesn't matter, the Party will continue to ignore us conservatives, impugn us at every opportunity and then expect us to hold our noses as we vote for another in a long line of dogshit candidates. Why can't the establishment get it through their thick fucking skulls??? We don't want the GOP version of Obama. We want the GOP version of Reagan (or at least as close as we can get). The time of voting for party sake is over. The GOP has taken us for granted for far too long and we are rebelling. Get used to it, Reince....we ain't going anywhere and in fact, we will still be here fighting the good fight as you move onto your next vaunted K Street job.

Bill Roberts

Mitt Romney has to be Citizen Romney, business tycoon, master of industry! How can he run on social issues? He is quite literally all over the map! And wait until people start honing in on this Mormon thing. Holy moly that stuff is so off-the-wall the very thought of someone buying into any of it past the age of eight and expecting to govern is insane! Got news for you folks, you'd rather have a fantasy Muslim than a real Mormon.
    Take the time to look that cult up and see if this sits well with your Christian values!
    My favorite is that Romney's wife's parents weren't allowed in the building when their daughter was married because they weren't Mormons! That, and they couldn't afford the Magic Underwear!


Great breakdown of this Romney fiasco. (CITIZEN ROMNEY -- Issue:1/15/12) As a registered and lifelong Republican, it pains me to see the party continue to usher in one cookie-cutter moderate after the other. Not since Reagan, and I know you have issues with many of the myths surrounding Ronnie but you must admit he was the true insider maverick that was told, "You can't win!" and then went and did it resoundingly twice, but since then what??
    Bush Sr. was a moderate -- detached Ivy League rich guy Rockefeller elite type. Then we ran Bob Dole, an old-time lifer and then Bush Jr., who ran as a Compassionate Conservative and I think aside from his tax cuts would have likely governed from the middle (as he campaigned) if not for 9/11 and the Cheney/Rumsfeld crew, who were all lackeys of his father anyway. Then we get John McCain, who wiped out every conservative in the race in '08. I mean did anyone even know Fred Thompson was around? Hell, it was so bad Mike Huckabee kept getting votes long after he was finished, and then we were straddled with a cartoon character for a vice presidential candidate, which predictably sunk the election.
    So now we have to endure another guy who is exactly like the guy in the oval office -- health care, cap & trade, social liberal. He runs any campaign that suits him. Romney is as phony as any politician you've ever seen Hollywood lampoon.
    And think about this; I, of course will vote for Romney to boot Obama, then he is so bad he plummets the party and God knows what comes after him!


"To claim, as the candidate repeatedly has, that this corporate chop-shop activity resembles a 'job creating' enterprise stretches credibility until it screams for mercy.
That says it all, and says it well.


South Carolina Mudsling
Republican Fringe Fights Back Against Citizen Romney
James Campion

15 Days later... antiquated third-world vote-tallying techniques perfected in the mid-nineteenth century by Boss Tweed led officials in Des Moines to report Rick Santorum had actually won.

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