Tuesday, August 28, 2012

My presidential prediction

Apparently I think Barack Obama is going to win the presidential race this year. I wasn’t at all sure I’d decided, but last week my back was to the wall and I was forced to make my prediction.

Why? Was my political editorial column for the NY Times late? Was I in the green room waiting to go on as a guest on The National? Did I need to put my money down on some sort of really boring office betting pool? No. Something much more important was happening.

I was gaming. The session was taking place in December 2012, I was the Game Master, and the identity of the President of the United States was required. So I made my call, and now I’m going to be held to it. Lauded as a genius if correct, mocked as a fool if wrong. Gamers have long memories, and they love to ridicule (why do you think Monty Python jokes still hold true around the gaming table, even after nearly 40 years?). Granted, my choice basically amounts to “heads or tails” in terms of options, but I’m sticking with the “Obama” side of the coin.

The power of incumbency is a major factor on his side. I believe sitting presidents who choose to run for re-election win almost 70% of the time, so this coin we’re flipping isn’t exactly balanced. More like rolling 1-4 on a six-sided die. (Or needing a 7 for a saving throw. Pretty good, but nothing I’d want to risk my life on.)

It doesn’t help Romney’s cause that, in spite of his almost comic-book square jaw and salt-and-pepper hair, he has no human appeal. He doesn’t share the cold, dead eyes of our own Stephen Harper, but there is a certain aura of the robotic around him. Though he claims to be born to human parents in Michigan back in ’47, he might just as easily have been assembled in some mad scientist’s lab from the body parts of 1920s movie stars. Put some “Intel Inside” to run the machine, and power him up. Even his political views are as changeable as your preferred internet browser: can anyone believe his Governor 2.0 operating chip wasn’t replaced with Republican President Vista before the campaign began?

This lack of charisma might be explained by the silver spoon carrying the platinum spoon he actually gets fed with, but watching the news you get the impression even the wealthy elite are kind of put off by him. Mitt was probably the kid at prep school everyone WANTED to beat up, but were afraid if they did, his dad would buy their houses and put them out on the street. Nor do Romney’s pleading, desperate efforts to relate to the “common man” help him at all, most probably because he’s so out of touch with their wants and needs that he actually calls them “common” when he thinks of them at all. In another era, Romney would have been entirely at ease, one suspects, riding across his manor looking for a chance at prima nocta.

Ultimately, this contest will be decided on the weakness of Romney rather than the strength of Obama. Poor ol’ Richie Mitt has a lot working against him, all of it self-created. At least he’s not going to become a drain on that Republican-hated safety net when he fails to land this gig.

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