A Scientific Look at the Primaries

Gregory Dunn

February 1, 2000

Now that John McCain’s Arizona and Michigan victories have revitalized his campaign and flummoxed George W. Bush’s Texas two-step to the GOP nomination, citizens everywhere are looking to Our Nation’s Punditry Industry for answers. But however time-tested the Pundit’s techniques of lot casting and chicken entrails reading, we must remember that politics is primarily a science and thus empirical, laboratory equipment and all. To predict the outcome of this contest, we must deduce the qualities of a successful candidate. To do that, we must, in the cold light of reason, analyze the qualities of this year’s unsuccessful candidates.

Steve Forbes doesn’t blink. That’s never good. Plus, he uses words like besmirch, as in, “Bill Clinton has besmirched the office of the president.” Who talks like that? And try using besmirch in a sentence: “Honey, what should I use on this chili stain with which I have besmirched my shirt?” The first rule of politics: Don’t use words no one else does.

Gary Bauer is way too short, and everyone knows that great presidents are very tall. For example, Abraham Lincoln, as any American schoolboy will tell you, was over eight feet tall. George Washington was even larger—so large, in fact, the Revolutionary soldiers built a giant wooden horse for him to ride and in which they hid so they could surprise and defeat the British army at the Battle of Tray, also as any American schoolboy will tell you.

Orin Hatch is a very quiet, very polite man. Just like my barber. Much as I like my barber, I wouldn’t elect him president. Plus, Hatch is a Mormon. Now there is absolutely nothing wrong with being a Mormon (in fact, my barber is a Mormon), but Mormons don’t drink. On the basis of extensive field research in Our Nation’s Capital (a seven-day family vacation when I was in junior high school), I can tell you that all the politicians worth their pork-barrel salt drink every night until the Georgetown bars close, get into their Lincoln Towne cars to go to Arlington, and back into each other instead.

Alan Keyes, still in the race only because of his love for campaigning, shouts and wags his finger like a furious minister. The last furious minister to run for the Republican nomination was Pat Robertson, and nobody (not even Robertson) enjoyed that.

Thus we can deduce that the winning Republican candidate will (1) blink, (2) use short and common words, (3) be tall, (4) be neither quiet nor polite, (5) drink, (6) not yell or wag his finger.

Both McCain and Bush blink; give them one point each. Bush doesn’t use long words, especially names of nations with too many consonants. McCain, it seems, uses very short, very common words, especially when angry. Both men, one point. Bush is from Texas, and everything in Texas is bigger than anything anywhere else. One for Bush. McCain is neither quiet nor polite; this may explain his popularity with Democrats. Bush, however, tells us that he is very compassionate, which is just as bad as polite or quiet—maybe worse. One for McCain. I can’t imagine McCain being a teetotaler, and Bush may or may not have used cocaine, which is just as good. One point each. Bush—again, being so compassionate—would never yell or wag is finger. McCain, however, does wag his finger, even if only the middle one. One for Bush.

Therefore, I scientifically predict Bush that Bush will win the Republican nomination come convention time, though the evidence suggests the race will be tight.

Remember, you heard it here first. And if you’ll excuse me, I have to get back to my laboratory.

Gregory Dunn is an Adjunct Fellow at the Ashbrook Center for Public Affairs at Ashland University.