Robert Becker

Robert Becker
Location
California, United States
Birthday
January 01
Bio
Educated at Rutgers College (BA) and UC Berkeley (Ph.D, English) I left university teaching (Northwestern, U. Chicago) for business, founding and heading SOTA Industries, high end audio company from '80 to '92; from '92-02 I did marketing consulting & writing; from '02 until now, I scribble on politics and culture, looking for the wit in the shadows.

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Salon.com
MAY 22, 2012 11:50AM

It’s a Wrap, Obama on Track: Gallup Speaks, Experts Squeak

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By Robert S. Becker

If this be winning . . . don't want losing. 

    If this be winning, what does losing look like? 

How comforting to discover, long before $2 billion evaporates in our quadrennial mayhem of misdirection, the finale! Survey says: Obama gets an encore, unless the wary one flubs big-time or a Black Swan sidelines his headlines. I got evidence: the latest poll, elitist expertise, stock charts and detailed voting patterns back to 1860. Match that, Mitt, you twit.  

 

But, alas for the left, few glad tidings, just which brand of anti-progressive runs the White House. Okay, pedestrian mini-series deliver more suspense, but that's what we got. No high drama every election. Instead, a six-month, horror show full of faux suspense plays out -- "will the nice, stumbling right centrist beat back the mechanized, alien throwback?" -- only for the nation to end up treading water.

 

Ah, the irony: everyone wants change, no one loves the status quo, and the majority reviles Congress, wonders about the president, and some days wants to drown government itself. Think on it: so much exertion, so many words and lies broadcast, all for this wimpy dead-end: the static status quo? Like other fantasies, salvation or quick domestic job growth, change rattles our collective unconscious, but reality is aloof and immovable.

 

And change per se is no panacea: ask any pessimist or ex-Obama fan punished by recalling the promise of '08. We malcontents only wish Obama acted with boldness, even tried out for "the most divisive figure in modern American history." That tea-stained distortion oozes from Marco Rubio, another joker oblivious to history going back, let's see, four years. Hey, dimwit, forget the most divisive V.P. ever -- indisputably the most divisive figure in modern politics? Along with his sidekick, Cheney's a black hole of lying divisiveness, leveraging minority rule to radically militarize foreign, economic and domestic policies.

 

Despite everything, Obama the reluctant warrior stands strong, if we trust Gallup's headline last week:
 

 

Americans See Obama as Solid Favorite to Win Election

56% think Obama will win; 36% think Romney will

 

Plus, though Gallup's independents don't love Obama, twice as many (58-31%) expect him to win. Ditto: one quarter of the redneck right. And this majority gauge runs true since 1992, despite races nearly impossible to call by late October. Thus, banish astrologists, crystal balls, online betters, or pundit pontifications. Except for an infrequent outlier (one of four polls favored Gore in 2000, one backed Kerry in '04), every candidate this majority poll clearly anointed for five elections triumphed. Even with today's divided electorate, this polled audience isn't pushing its preferences (or outrage) but realistically favoring one well-funded, likeable incumbent over one well-funded, most disagreeable, lying flip-flopper -- on his good days. That means up to 10% will vote for Romney, though sensing he'll lose.

 

A far more researched Obama pick comes from venerated political scientist Allan Lichtman, whose tested, 13-keyed system has predicted every popular vote winner since 1984. His evidence-driven books, like Keys to the White House: A Surefire Guide to Predicting the Next President, span results between 1860 and 1980. "Even if I am being conservative, I don't see how Obama can lose," claims Lichtman, "If six or more of the 13 keys go against the party in power, then the opposing party wins."

 

Lichtman's simple and rational measurements score incumbency, party mandate, no primary challenge, no third party, significant policy shifts (sort of, healthcare, gay rights), lack of disruptive social unrest, foreign policy/military gains without big failures, absence of scandals, and presidential charisma compared, say, to his pipsqueak opponent's this year. That gives Obama eleven winning Lichtman "keys," failing on hardly trivial short- and long-term economic measures.

 

And yet top experts rate Obama barely above even-money, placing a dozen states up for grabs. And while the president plies his liberal credentials, no easy task, I hold him responsible not only for extending core Bush policies, but helping our politics sag from gridlock to today’s suspended animation. Drones drone on, Afghanistan (and "limited wars") smash along, appointments are blocked, and now, another debt limit "crisis"? That simply vanishes the day Obama declares all federal debts inviolable. And that's why politics is dispiriting, as the "progress" embraced by progressives now mainly comes down to resistance against the oligarchic Reagan-Bush revolution achieving a merciless finale.

 

High debates, low drama

 

Of course, every fiasco favors someone. Those of us awake can still virtuously scorn FOX noise and pooh-pooh Limbaugh-Beck-Rove's racist innuendos. Better still, we may guiltlessly bypass the intellectual hoopla and travesty called the Obama-Romney debates. That dramatic abyss will make us pine for winky-dinky performances by the Thriller-from-Wasilla. Obama will smile a lot, ingratiating himself as silver-tongued agent for seamlessly-acquisitive corporatism up against Romney, who will smile a lot, ingratiating himself as bare-knuckle, oh-so-realistic engine of job creation. In short: let all the corporate dogs out.  

 

What a meager narrative: will this handsome, increasingly less charming president, especially when unscripted, face down the cold-hearted, chiseled from granite figure assaulting socialist defeatism -- dispatching bromides emptier than "change to believe in." Will this noble community organizer without killer instinct knock down the rapacious CEO prince who lorded over besieged CEOs, dictating what line to toe and when to incur killing debt obligations? How else could the Bain "messiah" recoup his "investment" by removing risk-capital, thus achieving the perfect vulture scheme: either a share of healthy profits or easy, prodigious tax write-offs that benefit him to this day?

 

Status quo to believe in

 

And still another prognostication with the remarkable mix of 90% accuracy and extraordinary simplicity. If for two months the stock market advances before an election, the incumbent party wins. And vice versa, per InvestTech Research, offering a "most reliable indicator" for the last century:

 

In the 16 elections when the stock market climbed before Election Day, the incumbent party was re-elected 15 of 16 times. And, in the 12 election years when the stock market suffered losses, the incumbent party lost 10 of 12 elections. In the 28 elections tracked, there have been only three exceptions: 1956, 1968, and 2004.

 

Right, trust greedy stock traders to gauge the arc of human advancement. Will this model readily apply when 70% of all trading is computer-generated, as today, linking historic paradigm shifts to pissing matches between software? Of course, this is mere correlation, not cause and effect, or is it?

 

Finally, notch one more kaput Obama distraction. Onto the scrap heap goes the $35 million, online nomination fiasco by Americans Elect: no candidate gained the minimum 10K vote threshold. So much for this ill-fated, centrist GOP anti-Obama ploy, designed for a modern-day Teddy Roosevelt or Ross Perot to muck up the center. Considering trust in government is digging new bottoms, third party alternatives cry out, especially after the creepiest of all GOP primaries.


Yet this strange year plods on, though what other than irony wins if the status quo triumphs? Are we not really talking the "status quo to believe in?" The "audacity of equilibrium"? Reluctantly, Oscar Wilde's 19th C. zinger comes to mind: however once blessed with high hopes, democracy descends to simply "the bludgeoning of the people by the people for the people." Most of us still have food, shelter, so take solace: after all, "summer is acomin' in, loudly sings cuckoo." Cuckoos, indeed.

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