T H E H U F F I N G T O N P O S T
October Surprise 2006: Place Your Bets Now!
Step right up and place your bets on October Surprise, 2006!
What will Republicans trot out this election year? What will be their outrageous attempt to swing the election? What plot is Karl Rove et al. currently hatching to give the GOP an edge?
Remember, the last time we were in this situation (the 2002 midterm election), President Bush demanded a vote from Congress to authorize him to go to war with Iraq. He certainly didn’t need it one month before the election (he didn’t actually invade for months afterwards)—but it sure was convenient to force all the Democrats to go on record right before they faced the voters.
So here are ten possible contenders for this year’s October Surprise, complete with odds (which I made up out of thin air and moonbeams):
(1) Announce the capture and/or death of Osama Bin Laden. Odds: 10 to 1
(2) Gas price relief at the pump for average Americans. Odds: 5 to 1
Either way, it would run the risk of voters seeing through the manipulation of using the short-term market in a blatant attempt to buy votes. Although odds are good they’ll try something along these lines, I don’t believe it would be very effective, as people would see through the smokescreen.
(3) Bombing Iran’s nuclear facilities. Odds: 3 to 2
A variation, call it (3a), would be if Israel carried out the bombing. They proved they’re capable when they took out Saddam’s nuke facilities a few decades ago. And it would be oh, so convenient to keep our mitts off the actual bombing, for “plausible deniability” reasons. After all, Israel has a perfect ready-made casus belli in the fact that Iran supports Hezbollah. Odds: 3 to 1
Variation (3b) would be forcing Congress to vote on the issue, without actually bombing (yet). Forcing Democrats to vote on it would be a lot easier than actually doing it. Odds: 2 to 1
Variation (3c) is frightening—the U.S. drops a nuclear bomb on Iran. Although the Bush White House has reportedly been exploring this option, the generals at the Pentagon have reportedly been pushing back hard, so there’s a slim chance this will become reality. Odds: 100 to 1 (I hope)
Although all variations to this theme (except the last one) have extremely good odds, one would hope that the Bush folks would—for once—consider the likely repercussions. Oil would instantaneously jump to $150-200 a barrel, for instance. And we can’t be certain of their ability to see future consequences, given their past track record.
(4) Bombing Syria in support of Israel. Odds: 8 to 1
(5) Bombing Ned Lamont’s house in Connecticut. Odds: 1000 to 1
(6) The GOP brings the troops home from Iraq. Odds: 15 to 1
It’s easy to see how it would take place. The Republicans would offer their own plan for withdrawal—carefully navigating the language it is presented in—so it appears completely different (New! Improved!) from the “cut and run” Democrats’ plans. The words “victory” and “completing the mission” would probably be prominent in such an effort.
Politically, this could be a disaster for Democrats. If the GOP successfully outflanks them on the left (a strange concept, but not one beyond the talents of Karl Rove to successfully spin to Fox News and Rush Limbaugh), the Republicans would be seen as the party who would “bring the troops home with honor.” The Democrats would come off as divided, without a better plan, and confused in general.
If voting Republican was seen as a vote to bring the troops home, the GOP would likely hang on to control of both houses of Congress. Even though this is somewhat of a long shot, I hope Democratic leaders have taken the possibility seriously by preparing a strong defense: “We were right, the Republicans were wrong, and only now—when their jobs are in danger—are they coming around to our way of thinking.”
(7) Exploit the Fidel Castro situation in Cuba. Odds: 7 to 1
(8) Announce Cheney will step down as Vice President after the election. Odds: 25 to 1
It would be easy to arrange: Cheney steps down because his doctors advise him to, for medical reasons (of course). The GOP uses it as a rallying cry to hold onto the Senate (since they would confirm his successor)—especially if the Democrats look like they’re about to pick up the six seats they need to take control of the chamber.
But personally, I don’t see it happening just for an advantage in this election. I think that if it happens at all, it will happen in 2007, a year before the presidential election. So the odds are pretty bad on this one.
(9) Announce the U.S. has thwarted a huge terrorist plot to ... (fill in the blank). Odds: 5 to 4
(10) Announce that Barbara and/or Jenna Bush has joined the Marines and will soon be deploying to Iraq. Odds: 17.5 billion to 1
So step right up, ladies and gentleman, and place your bets!
You makes your choice, and you puts your money down!
If ya doesn’t play, ya cain’t win!
[Feel free to propose alternate conspiracy theories, but remember to give odds so others can play.]