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What Happened to the October Surprise?

October 20th, 2012 - 3:15 am

Who knows what dirt Gloria Allred is running her hands through. I suspect that neither Mitt Romney nor Paul Ryan provides a profitable hunting ground for scandal, but who knows? Maybe Paul Ryan was mean to a high school chum? Maybe Mitt Romney forgot to take out the trash? Whatever Gloria Allred comes up with, I’d wager it won’t be any more scandalous than Bardell v Pickwick. 

Which is not to say that Team Obama — with or without the collaboration of a surrogate like la Allred — won’t spring an October surprise of some sort. My friend thought, and I am inclined to agree, that if a surprise is sprung, it will not revolve around any foibles Messrs. Romney or Ryan may exhibit. Nor will it, at this late stage, be likely to have anything to do with the economy. No, the most likely scenario is a foreign adventure of some sort — and something more dramatic than another drone attack. Maybe the administration will suddenly discover some plausible culprits for the murder of Ambassador Chris Stevens and his three colleagues in Libya. Maybe Obama will decide to bomb or invade Syria. Or maybe Iran will be the recipient of what the administration a year or so back was calling “kinetic activity.” Who knows?

If Romney’s momentum stalls — which I doubt, but if it does — nothing will happen. But if after Monday’s debate there is further disintegration of our Potemkin President and Ohio and Pennsylvania (to say nothing of New Hampshire, Colorado, Nevada, and Pennsylvania) edge further into the Romney camp, then watch out. The game is up for Obama.

It’s up, that is, short of a deus ex machina in the shape of some manufactured surprise, be it in late October or early November (when many October surprises seem to happen). When I ask myself what an effective surprise might be, I confess I am stumped. I would have said that things had gone too far, that Obama’s record, foreign as well as domestic, was such an unrelieved litany of failure that competent, dynamic, and ostentatiously decent men like Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan would just sail into the White House.

That, in fact, is what I’ve thought would happen for months. I am all the more confident about it now. I freely confess, however, that my experience of Alinskyite treachery is minimal. I continue to believe that Mitt Romney will win, but I think my friend is right that Team Obama will go to virtually any lengths to seize the election. I am trying to think low. I just hope that I am thinking low enough to account for the Chicago, you-bring-a-knife-to-the-fight-I-bring-a-gun tactics that Obama has bragged about pursuing.  He means to win, I have no doubt about that. As of this writing, however, I believe that the United States has not yet descended to full banana-republic. Elections are not that easy to corrupt, at least on the scale necessary to throw a presidential election.

Don’t get me wrong: I’d put nothing past the Obama administration. The question is, what can they put past us? Not enough to win, I think. Let’s see if I’m right.

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