T H E H U F F I N G T O N P O S T
Last Call For 2006 “October Surprise” Bets!
Step right up!
Place your bets!
All wagering on the 2006 October Surprise will officially end midnight Saturday, so lay your money down now!
Karl Rove is already bragging to the Republican faithful that he’s got a doozy of an October Surprise teed up for 2006. Karl hasn’t seen fit to let us in on the secret of what this year’s surprise will be, though. So the betting atmosphere is in a frenzy.
Let’s examine the current favorite picks, including some options that even Karl Rove doesn’t have control over, and (of course) the long shots.
[First, a little housecleaning, to update the odds I set in my previous article from a month and a half ago:]
(+) Gas price relief at the pump for average Americans.
[Bets are also no longer being accepted for any of the following:]
(-) Bombing Syria in support of Israel.
(-) Bombing Ned Lamont’s house in Connecticut.
(-) Exploit the Fidel Castro situation in Cuba.
(-) The GOP brings the troops home from Iraq.
(-) Announce that Barbara and/or Jenna Bush has joined the Marines and will soon be deploying to Iraq.
[OK, enough erasing previous bets from the chalkboard. Let’s proceed to the current offerings, and their current odds:]
(1) Announce the capture and/or death of Osama Bin Laden. Odds: 4-to-1
* CIA disbands Osama Bin Laden (OBL) unit. Why would they still need the unit if they’ve already caught him?
This one admittedly comes from the Tinfoil Hat Brigade, but when you look at all these disparate events as an aggregate, a pattern does begin to emerge. Hence the reasonable odds for this one.
[Memo from Karl Rove to the folks in French Intelligence: Ssssshhh! Don’t let the secret out too early! It’s not October yet!]
(1a) An Osama Bin Laden video surfaces, days before the election. Odds: 10-to-9
This is admittedly an externally-driven event (i.e., Karl Rove can’t “manufacture” it out of thin air), but it has happened before. The chances of this actually happening again are quite good, hence the really bad return on your money (bet $9, and only get $10 total in return).
(2) Announce Cheney will step down as Vice President after the election. Odds: 25-to-1
(3) Venezuela and Iran cut oil production to jack up US gas prices. Odds: 15-to-1
All they would have to do is announce that they’re cutting oil production 50% until mid-November. The resulting chaos on the world oil market would jack US gasoline prices back up and sour the economic mood in America. This may benefit the Democrats with moderate voters.
The real question is: are Chavez and Ahmadinejad that concerned about the American political scene? That’s really what you’re betting on with this one.
(4) Announce the thwarting of huge terrorist plot to ... (fill in the blank). Odds: 50-to-49
“Worst odds (for a return on your money) in the whole list, also meaning it’s the most likely to happen. It would be relatively easy to manufacture out of almost nothing, and would be seen by Republicans as helping their cause enormously. ... Fear always works to Republican advantage, so the probability of this being announced at a fortuitous moment during the last days of the election is (unfortunately) extremely high.”
Nothing has changed except the odds, which are now the second-worst of any choice on this list. The worst odds on the list are for the following new variation:
(4a) Terrorists caught sneaking across Mexican border. Odds: 100-to-99
(5) Nancy Pelosi caught with child porn. Or drugs. Or WMDs. Or something. Odds: 250-to-1
Or perhaps, Pelosi is stopped by the California Highway Patrol and 20 kilos of (fill in your favorite scary drug) are found in her trunk.
Or perhaps, Pelosi is found with anthrax in her makeup case which just happens to perfectly match the anthrax used in the 2001 mail attacks.
Or perhaps, Pelosi is found arriving on a flight from Detroit with the bones of Jimmy Hoffa in her suitcase. Or maybe the bones of the Lindbergh baby?
OK, the odds are high, but this has been the basis of the Republican party’s attempt to “nationalize” the election in their favor: “Nancy Pelosi is dangerous; and America would go to Hell in a handbasket within two weeks of her becoming Speaker of the House.” So framing her for some heinous crime isn’t completely outside the realm of possibility. It is pretty far-out, though, which is reflected in the odds.
(5a) Widespread GOP smear campaign based on wiretapping Democratic candidates. Odds: 50-to-1
Although the odds are long, anyone who lumps this in with the Tinfoil Hat Brigade obviously does not remember the term “COINTELPRO”—the reason we passed all those laws restricting intelligence-gathering in the first place. Before Bush gutted them all, of course.
(6) Bombing Iran’s nuclear facilities. Odds: 5-to-4
Odds have gotten a bit worse, meaning it’s more likely. Odds for variations have not changed (read my previous article for full details on this one). To wit:
(6a) Israel carries out the bombing. Odds: 3-to-1
(6b) Force Congress to vote on the issue, without actually bombing (yet). Odds: 2-to-1
(6c) U.S. drops a nuclear bomb on Iran. Odds: 100-to-1
(7) Middle East Peace Process Restarted. Odds: 15-to-1
My guess is that many independent voters really do hope for some sort of positive outcome in the region, but they’re so soured on the Iraq war that they’re thinking of staying home (or even voting Democratic) on election day. Moving the peace process forward would encourage them to vote GOP.
However, this still has long odds, since Condoleezza Rice and John Bolton have already objected to the Arab League proposal. And we all know how loathe the Bush administration is to reverse itself.
(8) Massive Hurricane Strikes America. Odds: It’s Not Nice To Bet On Mother Nature (cue lightning flash and thunder)
Reminding voters of the FEMA incompetence after Katrina is going to dampen Republican voter turnout. But this is also an externally-driven event. There’s nothing either party could do to make it happen or not. And this year’s hurricane season has been relatively mild. Hence the inscrutable odds.
(9) Terrorist attack on American soil. Odds: 200-to-1 (or, hopefully, even worse)
Everyone has their own nightmare about what form such an attack would take.
Some argue that this would hurt Republicans in the elections (“You haven’t kept us safe!”). Others argue that it would help Republicans (“You were right about the War on Terror, please protect us!”). My guess is that it would depend on the timing. If it happened less than a week before election day, I bet it would help Republicans. If it happened any further out than that, voters might have time to reflect, and pin the blame for the attack on the Republicans.
Either way, it is horrifying to consider. And the variations are even more horrifying, but they must be acknowledged:
(9a) Terrorist attack elsewhere in the world. Odds: 150-to-1
(9b) Tet-style push by Iraqi insurgents. Odds: 20-to-1
(9c) Faked Iranian attack in Iraq. Odds: 100-to-1
(9d) Faked terrorist attack on American soil (Operation Northwoods lives again). Odds: 1,000,000-to-1
(10) National emergency declared (for some reason or another), midterm elections cancelled. Attorney General Gonzales, backed by the Supreme Court, announces that all congressional elections are null and void, as the President as Unitary Executive (all praise His Name) will be dictating who will be allowed to serve in Congress, due to a Presidential signing statement that, unfortunately, you can’t read (for reasons of national security, and the fact that we’re at war, dammit); and due to the Omniscient Power of Our Fearless Leader George W. Bush—long may His Holy Name be revered by the loving populace. Odds: too scary to compute
If you believe this is outside the bounds of possibilities, then you didn’t read enough Robert A. Heinlein as a kid (Google the name “Nehemiah Scudder” to be enlightened). Or you’ve never heard Sinclair Lewis’ famous quote: “When fascism comes to America it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross.”
But I wouldn’t advise betting on this one. After all, if it happens, betting will be highly illegal.
And so we come to the end of the final October Surprise odds list. Sorry it was so long, but I wanted it to be as comprehensive as possible.
Get your bets in before the windows slam shut!
Put your money down!
Better odds than the lottery!
[As before, feel free to propose other items, just be sure to post odds for them when you do.]