Saturday, September 29, 2012

Dept. of Analogies

Since the election is coming up I thought it would be fun to re-link to the most brilliant piece of political meta-commentary I've read in a long time: an old 2008 post by Nate Silver where he uses the Google-machine to track down every historical analogy made about Barack Obama in the press. It turns out that, according to someone somewhere, Obama is (or was) the new Bush, the new Clinton, the new Carter, the new Reagan, the new Kennedy, and so on down the line.

There is an historical analogy on hand to fit every single campaign narrative you can think of. Romney is going to surge like Reagan in 1980! Obama will be narrowly re-elected like Bush was in 2004! For a certain brand of pundit, every year is 1939 and our guy is always Winston Churchill. Historical analogies are kind of like crack for talking heads, because they shine reflected glory on the current candidate and do not require any, you know, actual analysis of the political situation at hand.

[Update: Also this.]