Could our freakout become their October surprise?

Imagine this?!

It’s an underexplored question: our presidential elections happen to come just 30 days before Gringoistan heads to the polls.

Which means in a Plan Aterra scenario where the devil’s excrement hits the FAN, our freakout could well be remembered as their October surprise: a theme I explore in a return blog post over at The New Republic.

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  1. Chavez will almost certainly declare Marshall Law whether he wins or loses. It is the easiest way for him to take absolute control of the country and forestall his departure. Moreover, Marshall law would give him back his enabling laws that just expired in July. Never mind the legality of declaring Marshall law.

    I hope that Capriles wins and gets the support of the military. One good colonel could take charge assure that laws will be followed.

    When Chavez starts killing protestors and opposition leaders like his buddies in Syria, Iran, and Zimbabwe, it will be time for him to go. I pray that lives will not be needlessly taken just to keep Chavez in power. it is not worth it.

    The Venezuelan economy will suffer regardless of the outcome. Chavez has overspent the budget and given gifts to China, Cuba, Syria, and more. Then include the $billions stolen by his regime.

  2. Oh, my. A Romney victory. What could possible be worse than that for TNR readers…? Why, imagine the horrible, horrible consequences!

  3. BTW, Quico, nice piece (snark aside). However, this: “rushing to file their Romney campaign obits ahead of the rush, ”

    Rushing … rush?

  4. “…only a big time October surprise can save the GOP.”
    So you believe the US polls published by the MSM left / liberal propaganda machine, yet you don’t believe the ones in Venezuela?
    When you drill down the ones in the US, with a few exceptions, they are skewed by e.g. oversampling Dem voters, sampling voters instead of LIKELY voters and 100 other dirty tricks.
    The only polls that really count in the US are the ones 2 weeks until election day, because the reputation of the pollsters trump any agenda they may have had.
    Otherwise, your scenario is utopia. The military knows that this would be suicide for the country and wouldn’t let it happen, no matter what, if for nothing else but self-preservation

        • I support Obama, but I agree that someone with this kind of attitude is not voting for the right reasons whatsoever. However the solution to this is not to write off all people in their socioeconomic group as a hopeless case, but to extend the school year, intensify education, school lunch programs so their kids pay attention, incentives to make them make sure their kids show up for school and generally give them a stake in society at large. A tax cut for the wealthy, iron fist foreign policy, or endless handouts to government unions just entrenches the conditions that create such ignorance.

          The solution which worked to raise past generations in America out of poverty aren’t going to work in socioeconomic groups where ignorance has reigned for generations – in Venezuela or the US. Romney would do what, restrict family planning resources (making unplanned children a worse problem)? Another unfunded education reform initiative? That’s just kicking the can down the road, until eventually they are the majority and we will end up with someone like Chavez.

          • A crisis in Venezuela allows a US President to appear Presidential. Obama will not allow his second term to disappear because he isn’t tough enough on a Communist coup in Venezuela.

          • Won’t happen by the empty suit, who hasn’t been presidential since he was inaugurated. Look at the middle East. Is he “presitential” there? The coward is afraid to talk with Netanyahu, because he might piss off his make-believe buddy muslims, as if they weren’t pissed off enough at him already. Look at Europe, the honeymoon is over, now that they have figured him out.

          • Prior to this, I was taking you seriously. Obama has been more interventionist than Bush when it comes to fighting Muslim extremists, appealing to moderate Muslims as Obama has attempted is just good sense than raised no eyebrows when Bush did it. As to meeting Netanyahu, Obama didn’t meet any foreign leaders one on one, so what?

          • NorskeDiv,
            I respect your opinion, except that after almost 4 years appeasing, and fighting the extremists (when / where?) they kill our embassador and a few more, mobs attack our embassies (are they the friendly ones?), Iran is going to have the bomb and on and on. Where are the successful results? I challenge you to name one achieved by Obama. And please don’t even try the arab spring. That thing isn’t working out at all, as the liar’s liars (HC et al) little by little admit, something Obama will never ever do, when he screws up.
            Appeasing has never worked, nor will it ever.

  5. Quico, the scenario you paint is interesting, but it lacks a factor that would make the same thing happening in, say, Sauidi Arabia, become a real October surprise. Venezuela does not have players like Iran and Israel ready to set their neighbors’s fields ablaze. Even the Cubans are like the mapurite right now, (“él sabe a quién pée”). My point is that unrest in Venezuela would not shake the world of U.S. politics, you need something with a stronger symbolic value. A spike in gas prices will not do.
    BTW, funny to see a rigth winger asking to see “balanced” news! (FOX News anyone?!)

  6. Romney got soundly pummelled for his remarks about Obama being soft on Chavez. It would give him an opportunity to deliver a timely “I told you so.”

    Now having said that, Romney was still wrong in using that as an issue, and the the US State Dept. (not necessarily Obama) got it right in its handling of Venezuela. But the truth isn’t always what wins elections.

  7. Toro jumps the shark. Seriously. If Chavez loses Obama would be the first to come out against any sort of post-loss violence. He would be the first to congratulate Capriles and advocate for a smooth, non-violent transition. Obama does not play around when it comes to that sort of thing especially with SoC Hillary Clinton. CFR talks about what could possibly happen here (Venezuela Analysis tries to make a conspiracy out of “interventionism” over this article but they are irrelevant):

    It’s likely that the Obama administration will heed CFRs recommendations (as they are mostly common sense) and that ultimately Romney wouldn’t have anything to gain at all from this. Hell, the whole Arab world freak out was supposed to help Romney yet Obama still managed to get a bump from it, particularly after his UN speech (a speech Romney couldn’t give because it respects all religions equally, etc, his constituents wouldn’t be behind that at all).

    Also, one cannot ignore that Santos would also back Obama and that would send a very strong signal to those at the top in Chavez’ administration that fucking around is not a very smart move.

    I see no gain from Romney if Venezuela goes sour, and honestly, I think that Capriles will win by enough votes for a transition to be basically guaranteed. As the more coherent posts here indicate, they (the Chavistas) will merely take the opportunity to bleed the country dry before they exile themselves to whatever shit hole will take them and their money.

    • you’re missing the point – this isn’t about the WORDS that will be said in case of a freakout. This is about low-information swing voters in the U.S. going to fill up their gas tanks the week before the U.S. election, finding it costs 60% more and saying THAT’S IT, I’M THROWING OBAMA OUT!

      • I’m saying that Obama would mitigate total chaos from happening. It would require the country to go into a civil war for the oil to stop flowing. In which case then you might have a point. On the international foreign policy landscape words have a lot of power.

      • I’m not sure if riots in Venezuela would raise the price of gas in the States enough to cause an uninformed swing voter to react in that manner. JC is right in that the incumbent does have an advantage and Obama would probably respond to a crisis in Venezuela with some harsh rhetoric and maybe even do something (although I think the FAN would do something before Obama would). I’m just not sure that unrest in Venezuela would translate into a high enough spike to change the outcome of the election.

  8. There is no reason why Venezuelan any worst-case scenarios could help Romney win the presidency. Following the fiasco in Iraq, most Americans see Democrats as stronger in foreign policy. Obama’s forceful actions in Lybia and Pakistan have only strengthened that view.

      • Though we are a shallow lot, Americans are not so short-sighted. High as prices didn’t prevent Bush from being reelected in ’04. Furthermore, whenever there’s a crisis overseas, the incumbent always gets a boost (again, see Bush victory in ’04, inexplicable otherwise). – SORRY – didn’t mean to add new thread…

        • Listen, this isn’t a slur on all Gringoistanis. The U.S., like every country, has what I’m guessing is a bell-curve distribution of political interest and engagement, with a few hyper-engaged political junkies, a few low-information don’t-much-care people, and lots of folks in the middle. The problem is that “swing voters” concentrate on the low-information end of the spectrum – that’s the case in Venezuela as well, btw! – and those low-information voters can often make voting decisions on basis that – how to put this delicately – their better informed compatriots would find totally bat-shit crazy.

          I’m not happy that some Venezuelans are voting on the basis of crazy stories about Capriles being a nazi jew. And I’m sure you’re not real proud that some Americans vote on the basis of what it costs to fill up their gas tank. But hey, it is what it is…

          • Hold on Francisco. You don’t think Obama would order the Strategic Oil Reserves to pump out enough oil to, in the short run, make up for the (potential) mess in Venezuela? Surely that would lessen the upward pressure in prices and give Obama the “hey, I’m taking care of this” card while working behind the scenes to resolve any (potential) crisis. Libya, on a much smaller scale in terms of its importance to oil markets, is a good example of what can be done.

          • It fits! Our president is a muslim.
            Madonna also said so, so it must absolutely and irrefutably br true. Say what? She didn’t mean to say it? Liar!

          • Even though anecdotes are not data, let me give you one: A few week ago a pollster called me to ask whom I would vote for in the coming election. I responded that I was still undecided. Now, the truth is that for a while I have known that I most likely will vote for Obama (not that it matters, as he will definitely carry New York, which is where I live). However, the debates are still to come and the election is not until November, so I can, and will wait until then to “decide”. Let the candidates work for my vote. If I had to vote today, I would definitely go for the President (and that’s what I answered on that question), but officially, I am “undecided”. I am ALSO a swing voter, which means something else altogether; i.e., I am one of those people that sometimes swing Republican and sometime Democratic. I am no political scientist or expert of any kind, but I strongly believe that a lot of the people that are “undecided” behave the way I do. A bigger number of undecided are people who don’t pay any attention to the political process until a few days before the election, but when they do, they give the matter more consideration than the cursory one you propose. Another anecdote: I remember vividly when 8 years ago, just a couple of days before the Bush-Kerry election I witnessed a most extraordinary political conversation. I was flying out of a small airport in the Midwest, and as I was browsing in an airport bookstore the conversation of the two cashiers caught my ear. Both were young, pierced everywhere, obviously in the very lower rungs of the income ladder. They were having this amazing conversation about whom to vote for. They were still undecided but were so very well informed about the issues, and were actually undecided not because they didn’t know or care, but because the had so much information and liked attributes and proposals of both candidates!

  9. Though we are a shallow lot, Americans are not so short-sighted. High as prices didn’t prevent Bush from being reelected in ’04. Furthermore, whenever there’s a crisis overseas, the incumbent always gets a boost (again, see Bush victory in ’04, inexplicable otherwise).

  10. I don´t know about a Chavez victory enticing American electors to vote Republican. American foreign policy is focused on the Middle East, not Latina America. I bet 50% of americans don´t even know who Chavez is.

    • You can tell that for the videos posted here. I really wonder if 50% of United States citizens know where Europa is. As for Chavez there won’t be any shocking October in Venezuela, he will win again; not that easily as before though. And even if he loses, he will have a golden opportunity to retire, set the country on fire, and get back in two years time saying: I told you lads! I am the warranty of peace! Doesn’t it sound better than crying like a kid if he loses? You’ve got to give credit to him as politician, after having teachers like Miquilena an Rangel behind him for so long. As for USA, after Bush son I can expect anything, including something like Romney becoming President

  11. I agree with Romney needing a miracle to win. The guy has been exposed so far as flip-flopper many times, plus all kinds of awkward situations.


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