Thursday, October 05, 2006

The 'Wisdom' of Crowds and People Who Will Not Be President

by Tom Bozzo

Some time ago, I'd entered into a friendly wager with Nina over Secretary of State Rice's 2008 presidential ambitions or lack thereof. Around that time, her potential candidacy was being talked up pretty heavily, with various Sensible [sic] Conservative bloggers suggesting how steely and well-shod (*) Madame Secretary'd be in their dream matchup against Hillary Clinton. Still, a reasonable assessment of the odds made the terms highly asymmetrical: dinner at Charlie Trotter's if she's nominated, a round of drinks in Madison if she isn't.

The Rice '08 meme had once drawn a fair number of Googlers to this site, as this site is on the first page of returns for a search of the term, and the diminution of that flow says something in itself. Over on the Tradesports "prediction market," the contract for Rice's nomination peaked early last year at 10.5 (indicating that the crowds still considered her a long shot) and has since fallen back considerably. The latest news on Operation Ignore looked like it should was going to send her theoretical candidacy into an unrecoverable descent, but evidently there's enough of a foot-fetishist contingent to keep her contract around 5. The order book has occasionally shown a strong vote for Rice's chances being essentially nil, though. That part of the mobility is correct.

It's a sad enough statement that Rice's incompetence and inclination to pathological lying are not enough to disqualify her. Just look at her boss, after all!

Nope, the Althouse-Bainbridge wing of the wingnut punditocracy was wrong to think that Rice had the slightest chance not just because of their general inability to distinguish ass from elbow (**), but specifically because they have conveniently forgotten the origins of modern Republican political power. As is occasionally not so sub rosa, the Republicans have a certain dependence on the wrong-side-won-the-Civil-War vote. She'd have been campaigning for Southern Republican votes against the likes of G. Felix Allen and Bill "Meow" Frist (at least prior to the remarkable cratering of their own grander political ambitions), and nobody with ass-elbow discrimination abilities shouldn't know that race-baiting is in the Rovian bag o' tricks.

So were I inclined to do such a thing, and the Feds not trying to crack down on that sort of e-commerce, I'd be shorting Madame Secretary's contract even at 5. (*****)


(*) See ace snark from Max: on July 10, 2001, "preoccupation with Osama Bin Ferragamo crowded out matters of lesser importance."

(**) Just consider that neither:
I caught a glimpse of this [a Bush speech] on the TV... and I was stunned by how rejuvenated the President looked. Reading the text now, I'm thinking these congressional victories have transformed him. (***)
Given the complexity of the text [the torture bill] under discussion and the legal issues it generates, it is quite resistant to serious blogging by a law professor. Failure to blog should therefore be read as a sign of the law professor's distance from partisanship. (****)
is an Altmouse parody.

(***) Why, taking a dump on the Constitution is almost as reinvigorating as virgins' blood!

(****) Because the worst thing people could possibly have is expert commentary on the issues of the day. Unless Gail Collins calls...

(*****) In contrast, if you're in a jurisdiction where such things are permissible and are looking for a hot tip (which, of course, should not be legally construed as a hot tip), the Obama contract looks underpriced to me at 3.6. The big question is to what extent he can get past his extended Sister Souljah Moment on the Democrats' relationship to faith-based matters, and on to making the case that Democratic policies are better for the faithful than the collection of Republican atrocities.
No one (not named Amy Sullivan) who would consider Obama would pick him over John Edwards, who is severely underpriced, imnvho.

If I were suggesting a trading strategy, selling Warner and/or Gore (the latter of whom seems to have realised he can do more not running, probably to the L&T Shakes's dismay) and Obama and buying Edwards is the straddle to play. (Also, the offer side of Obama is 6.6, not 3.6, though the last trade at 4.0 isn't bad value.)
Great post, but Ann is going to scold you for being partisan or something. Then she'll go back to liveblogging overheard coastie conversations at Espresso Royale.
Ken: We voted for Edwards in the WI primary, and I wouldn't be sad to see him as the nominee. As #2, Edwards may have had to play by the Kerry game plan (such as it was), though as a guy who made his fortune as a litigator, he should show that he can resist the depredations of idiot Democratic campaign consultants.

Shane: I'm sure she would, if she deigned to come over to these parts; I'll take my chances with Prof. "I Was an Edwards Democrat until that snooty Kerry made me outraged over the Clenis" Althouse.
I still say there's no way a childless woman can win either the nomination or the presidency in the US. Especially not when one party has pushed the "family values" meme so hard.

I also don't think a woman can win the presidency if the other candidate is male. Makes for an interesting first-mover problem for both parties.
Kim, that's probably true, though I'd think a Republican woman would have a harder time getting nominated in the first place -- I'd expect not-so-veiled pitches to the "traditional values" set from the men in the field. In Rice's case, doubts about whether she's single because she's a lipstick lesbian or simply because she has a repellent personality would just be icing on that cake. Then there's the race isssue...

On the Democratic side, '08 might be a good time for Hillary to overcome any disadvantage if she's capable of pursuing the sort of campaign against the Republican nominee that Bill waged against G.H.W.B.: keeping the focus solidly on the CF bequeathed by G.W.B. (I'm not too keen on her being the nominee, but that's mainly because I'm not a fan of her centrist triangulation.)
You consider Althouse a conservative? This coming from someone bemoaning a lack of "expert commentary?"
Robert if I were to be more precise, I'd say that I consider Ann's "political" blogging to be shilling for the Bush administration. So I'm using "conservative" as a short-hand to describe the positions that one must take to shill for the Bush administration, though I admit that in many ways the Bush administration is not at all "conservative" in the better senses of the term.

That Ann self-identifies as a moderate and considers everyone else partisan is, sorry to say, an increasingly widespread joke on her.
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