Ron Rosenbaum, Writer

May 13, 2008

Reflections on "Operation Chaos"

Filed under: Uncategorized — ronrosenbaumwriter @ 5:32 am

So I’m back after overcoming, I hope, technical difficulties with new blogging software, which I’m sure my inner Luddite is responsible for. There’s lot’s to talk about but I want to begin with my tv set blowing up and thus my listening to Rush Limbaugh for the first time because I became fascinated with his “Operation Chaos”.

Re my tv set. I’m sure there’s no connection but I swear the tube blew–blacking out, emitting puffs of smoke and that burned wire smell at the very moment Elliot Sptizer was holding a press conference to talk about being Client Number Nine.

It’s just too easy to make a metaphor out of it and say my tv just couldn’t take any more political sleaze, but that’s when it happened and I’ve been too busy/lazy to get a relacement yet, so that was the last time–two months ago–I watched tv at home, and believe me it’s a big change, I’ve been a heavy viewer.

Since most of what I watched was second hand chatter about politics, blogs–which devote an inordinate amount of time to second hand chatter about this second hand chatter (who ‘s biased agasint whom etc)–I’ve got that covered.

And then there’s radio, long neglectedd NPR and Rush Limbaugh because I’m fascinated by his “Ooeration Chaos”. You know, that’s his effort to prolong the Democratic primary agony by convincing GOP voters in “open primary” states to change their registration for the primary so they can vote for Hillary. At first because he thought Hillary would be the most beatable Dem. nominee and now just to keep things going to further handicap Obama.

It’s reprehensible of course, although the hapless Democratic party–it’s my party and I’ll cry if I want to–left itself open to all this through the most unbelievable concatenation of foolish rules any single group of people could devise.

And even though I don’t agree with much else Limbaugh says–I mean he finds John McCain impermissably liberal–I have to give props to the pure diabolical mischief making. The Dems practically gave someone in his position an engraved invitation and he accepted with glee.

And so far it seems to have worked. I doubt Hillary would have gotten the magic 10 (really 9) point margin in Pennsylvania that gave her life, even momentum for a while. And Operation Chaos voters may well have given her the bare margin to avoid the sudden death of her candidacy in Indiana.

But its very success may have opened a Pandora’s box for our democracy. Two can play this game and soon (at least) two will. Democrats, slow on the uptake, will nevertheless begin in future primary contests to engage in their own Operation Chaos-like dissimulations. People will stop voting for the candidate they like in their own party and rather vote for the candidate in the other party they think will be more defeatable.

There will be perils (be careful what you wish for, etc) but what was once, you know, “voting” will now become “strategic voting”, more like playing a three dimensional chess game than an exercise in expressing sincere preferences on issues except in a disguised way twice removed. because who you decide to target in your Chaos vote may depend on who you want to help in a negative way. In other words will Repbulican A or B be easier to beat by Democrat C or D. Each party will try to outguess who in the other party will really do worse against whom rather than who they’d do best with, and we’ll know even less about what each party stands for on the issues, more on how they can best game the system.

Of course everyone in the Democratic party will have to be on the same page for its counter-Chaos ops to work–noo small task. Everyone has to agree who the worst, most defeatable Rebulican is for it to be a factor. And yet I don’t see anyone on the horizon in the Democratic party who had the authority, the ability to build a consensus or the smarts to become the kind of general in this war of deception who can get the troops to follow him or her the way Limbaugh does his ditto heads. (You know the line: “I don’t belong to an organized political party, I’m a Democrat”).

Someone needs to step foward or be nominated by the party (good luck) to undertake this task. Actually, come to think of it I know two people who might fill the bill: the machiavellian Clintons are natural candidates for this job aren’t they? And they’re likely to have some time on their hands fairly soon.



  1. Of course, the best way to prevent an increase in such “strategic voting” and “operation chaos”-type voting is to do away with the absurdity of “open primaries”. Limbaugh is merely taking advantage of an absurd system that others designed. It’s asinine to allow people to vote in primaries for parties of which they are not members. Why should a non-party member be able to decide who a party nominates for President? There should be a 30 or 60 day deadline before the primary for switching one’s sparty affiliation, and party primary voting should be limited to people who are registered members of that particular party. Open Primaries are a joke, and make a mockery of the the very notion of parties (leading also to an exaggerated emphasis on candidates’ personality and image at the expense of ideology and political principle). If I lived in an “open primary” state I wouldn’t even consider bothering to vote in a primary. Why waste time participating in a joke?

    Comment by Dennis — May 13, 2008 @ 8:51 am | Reply

  2. At this point, I think anything that gets people involved in the process is good. This whole thing might convince some people that their vote really does count. They might even stop to think about issue and candidates.

    It’s a stretch, but some might even come to realize that votes for third party candidates aren’t actually ‘wasted’ even if there is that ‘be careful what you wish for’ danger like so many saw with Nader. Consider whether McCain would be talking about carbon emissions if it hadn’t been a decisive factor in a presidential election a few years ago.

    In a way, voting has always been strategic. The idea that people want to back a winning horse has always been a factor preventing many from voting their conscience.

    Comment by Kasey — May 13, 2008 @ 9:51 am | Reply

  3. True Operation Chaos will happen in the three month runup to the Dem Concvention in Denver, as a Hillary pledged delegate has now switched to Obama. It should now be open season on pledged delegate, who, as Elaine Kamarck of the Dems’ Rules Committee recently observed at the National Press Club, must pledge to “vote in good faith” on the first ballot, a promise which can be interpreted just about any way. Look for Hillary’s people to lean on women pledged to Barack and Obama’s troops to counter by pressuring Hillary’s Af-Am delegates.

    Comment by charlie finch — May 14, 2008 @ 9:10 am | Reply

  4. The writer rightly points to the Democrat’s “unbelievable concatenation of foolish rules” as being the prime reason for the success of “operation chaos.”

    Uh, the Republicans have yet to incorporate these “unbelievable concatenation of foolish rules” into their primary season, so doesn’t this make the Democrats task of “counter-Chaos ops” doubly difficult?

    Well, no, actually, because the really “stupid party” remains really stupid to this day. Ergo, I look for the Republicans to embrace these “unbelievable concatenation of foolish rules” long before the next presidential election. Hey, that’s what stupid parties do after all.

    I mean, why should the Democrats have all the fun wreckin’ American elections, eh?

    Comment by M. Stephen Lamb — May 18, 2008 @ 9:25 am | Reply

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