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"Popularity Contest"


John Dickerson, while ruminating on the possible limits of Barack Obama’s “hipness,” asks a profoundly stupid question:

More generally, shouldn’t Democrats who have complained that George Bush was elected on the strength of a popularity contest be nervous that this blossoming Obamadulation is getting out of hand?

Um… Hold that thought while I retrieve a cool, refreshing drink from the linen closet.

Okay then. I have a limited amount of time before I go blind and slip into a coma, so I’ll make this brief. Could Dickerson possibly be speaking of George “Where Wings Take Dream” Bush? Last I recall, his — ahem — “election” to office in 2000 was a “popularity contest” in the following senses:

  • He received 50.5 million out of 104 million votes cast. That is to say, he lost the “popularity contest” outright. (Three million of those votes, of course, went to Ralph Nader.)
  • Fuck off, Ralph Nader.
  • Bush was, on the other hand, quite popular with the Dowdified corporate press corps who behaved egregiously thoguhout the campaign, blathering endlessly about his “folksy demeanor” while overlooking the fact that when he spoke about actual policy matters, his breath reeked of model airplane glue. Meantime, Gore was portrayed a desperate, arrogant wonk who — though not yet fat — was clearly unworthy of the office he sought.
  • Bush was also hip in the eyes of the rent-a-mob who disrupted the “undervote” recount in Dade County and helped their preferred candidate win a state whose “popularity contest” he had, in all likelihood, actually lost.
  • And finally, he was popular with five Supreme Court justices who offered the final stroke of legitimacy to the pretense that Bush was indeed “the people’s choice.”

Beyond those niggling details, it’s totally plausible that Dickerson might confuse Obama ’08 with Bush ’00. The resemblance is just uncanny.

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