My Superstition (Anti-Prophet)

Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin poses with a snow truck Saturday, 23 January 2016; the Republican governor posted the image to social media in order to show Bluegrass State residents how hard he was working on the snowstorm shortly before flying to New Hampshire for a campaign event. Detail of self-portrait by Matt Bevin.

This is a personal superstition:

Aside from the obvious, it’s worth noting that when governors go to New Hampshire to headline fundraisers, it often means they’re thinking about raising their visibility ahead of a national campaign. Bevin’s entire career in public office has only lasted a couple of months; is he already eyeing some kind of promotion?

Every once in a while a paragraph like this comes up, or some similar circumstance. One reads or hears something, and, you know, just … oh, come on.

And while it is easy enough to knock Steve Benen for sounding histrionic partisan alarms early, the truth of the matter is that I also scoffed, nearly three years ago, at the proposition of Ben Carson running for president.

The superstition itself is simply named, anti-prophet; the general principle is that anytime I throw down for the perfectly obvious I will be wrong. It is true I would have expected a congressional, or perhaps senate run from the ambitious Christianist, but it really did seem silly to expect this once-famous surgeon hawking books to Seventh-Day Adventists would actually muster the temerity to run for president.

The superstition itself dates back to 2000, when a conversation between poseur tacit office rivals saw the conservative ask the liberal about the upcoming election, and while it was easy enough to predict a close race simply by observing the mood of the electorate, I did in fact actually say it wouldn’t be such a mess that the lawyers would have to get involved.

Yes, really.

The intervening years have also taught me that any prior expectation I possessed about political dignity or even basic integrity in public service was dangerous. Sometimes we hear people talk about whether or not Ronald Reagan could win the nomination in today’s GOP, but I also have a bit called the time machine joke, which essentially wonders, if you could hop back to the eighties and tell Reagan Republicans where their party was headed and how we would end up there, who would believe you and who would run you out of town.

Mr. Benen’s current consideration is actually about the notion of wanting to be known as a disaster governor, but superstition, for the moment, makes laughing at New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s useless sound-bite―“I am clearly the disaster governor”―just another exercise in self-gratifying futility.

In the end, what, then? Mark the date? Note to self? Something like that. Conventional wisdom plus Kentucky voters equals a mystery unto itself, but even if we cite an insurgent cycle, what, exactly, is the “normal” to which politics would be expected to return; and, furthermore, why would we, at this point, expect things to ever get back to any sense of normal? Which, in turn, begs the question of how we define normalcy.


Benen, Steve. “Ben Carson revels in GOP spotlight”. msnbc. 18 March 2013.

—————. “The fight for the ‘disaster governor’ label”. msnbc. 25 January 2016.

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