December 29, 2007

Presidential Jeopardy

How many Presidential debates have been held this year? A quazillion? And how many have you, personally, watched? If you are like me, maybe half of one and three minutes of another.

Is this our fault? Well, of course it is. But, still ... couldn't the candidates try a little harder to make it interesting?

For example, one cause of voter cynicism is the suspicion that the candidates are complete ignoramuses on every topic on which they haven't been preprogrammed by their handlers. So, instead of having them stand around and semi-argue with each other, why not have them play Jeopardy instead, with the categories weighted toward history and current affairs.

Sure, the frontrunners wouldn't be likely to agree to it, but why not let laggards like Duncan Hunter and Dennis Kucinich volunteer for a match. They don't even have to be in the same party. Come on, you'd watch that, right? And once a Hunter-Kucinich-Paul Jeopardy match got triple the ratings of the last debate, pressure would mount on the big boys and girls to pick up their buzzers and fight.

Couldn't the match be rigged by producers who leak the questions to one candidate or another? Sure, but there are ways around that. The show doesn't have to write new questions -- it has tens of thousands of old questions, far too many for a candidate to study. All the producers would have to do is categorize old categories as Relevant, Middling, and Irrelevant with a weighting toward the Relevant, then have a random system that picks old categories moments before the show starts taping.

Randall Parker asks "Why stop there?"
Jeopardy is just a beginning. I have an idea for a reality TV show: Pair up Republicans and Democrats to survive in a wilderness setting. Let them choose each other. See who can best work in a bipartisan manner. Find out which pair can, say, figure out how to catch salmon without a fishing rod in a stream in Alaska. Or see which pair can build a raft to get off an island that is only a half mile from another island.

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

21 comments:

Johnson said...

I think a joint Republican-Democrat debates would be very interesting. Republican debates are only interesting when Ron Paul disagrees with everyone. Since they all love to bash Hillary, if Hillary actually was there to defend herself, that would be good. And since the Dems love to bash Bush, if there was a Republican Bush apologist, it could make things interesting.

Guiliani-Romney-Huckabee-Paul-McCain

vs

Hillary-Edwards-Obama-Biden-Richardson

Each party will try to appeal to its base extremists while simultaneously fighting off challengers from the opposite camp. It would force everyone to be candid with their views.

Cato said...

I like this idea.

Of the current candidates that I'd speculate would do well: Obama, Huckabee, McCain, Thompson. Obama, because the guy just seems "aware." The others because they've had some life outside of politics, and don't strike me as one-track-mind workaholics.

Of those who would tank: Hillary, Edwards, Giuliani. None of them seem to be particularly curious about much beyond their jobs.

Can't say on Romney, but I'm not optimistic. President Bush would embarrass himself. John Kerry would, too. Al Gore would probably do pretty well, but Bill Clinton could probably clean up.

Of course, if Al Sharpton were running, it would take the NAACP-types about five seconds to file a lawsuit complaining about the historically low percentage of minority winners on the show.

Anonymous said...

I'd love to see them have to take a televised IQ test, with a gazillion IQ-tests being rolled together in a lottery-like barrel before a candidate (blindfolded) reached in to pick theirs.

I'd like for the test to be spatially-oriented with math and trigonometric and engineering brain-teasers. I'd love to sit back and laugh at how badly Hillary and Guiliani would do while genuinely intelligent folks like Paul and Romney cleaned their clock for the world to see. What we have now are basically lying and equivocation contests to see who has mastered PC-thought and speech the best. Thats not intelligence.

Lucius Vorenus said...

This is, hands down, the worst crop of presidential candidates in my lifetime, and, beyond that, almost certainly the worst crop of presidential candidates in the history of the Republic.

Part of this is historical in nature - there just isn't all that much of any importance* going on in the world today, and the economy is smoking, so at the moment there isn't any perceived need for smart, serious, principled people to come down off their mountaintops and get their hands dirty in retail politics.

But that's only part of the picture.

The really important underlying phenomenon is the burgeoning cancer of Idiocracy - we just don't have that many smart people anymore - people who would act as either political leaders or as members of their political constituencies.

Smart people didn't make enough babies status post Griswold & Roe, and now our politics is beginning to reflect that.

--------------------

*Getting back to the question of whether any events of any importance are transpiring around the world today: Even within the span of the next presidency [2009-2013], events like:

1) Iran lobbing a nuke at Israel
2) Pakistan and India lobbing nukes at each other
3) China invading Taiwan
4) North Korea lobbing nukes at South Korea
etc etc etc

could introduce all sorts of chaos into our lives, but neither the great unwashed masses nor the elites seem to feel that those events are very likely at this time - certainly not sufficiently likely to force any serious rhetoric into the campaign discourse this year [or maybe I should say: not sufficiently likely to have forced any smart, serious, principled people to come down off their mountaintops and infuse this campaign with any serious discourse].

Of course, long term, one and only one issue will come to dominate politics [and all of world affairs] for the remainder of our lifetimes: The decline of intelligence, and the dawn of the new Dark Age:

IQ and the Wealth of Nations

List of countries and territories by fertility rate

The Baby Gap: Explaining Red and Blue

People don't seem quite ready yet to start talking about it - certainly not at the level of retail politics as practiced by the current crop of presidential candidates.

But, in time, the situation will deteriorate so badly that demographics [especially idiocratic stupidity & criminality] will be all that anyone will talk about - or at least "anyone" [at that point] with a sufficiently high IQ to realize what will have happened to the world.

--------------------

PS: Speaking of smart, serious, principled people [even though his daughter is a bulldyke kook], I've long been of the opinion that Dick Cheney [and, while he was there, Don Rumsfeld] was the man who kept the whole thing from falling apart at the seams for the last 7 years.

I don't see anyone that smart or that serious anywhere on the horizon in 2008, and in the period 2009-2013, we may come to rue the absence of any grownups in the White House.

On the other hand, there certainly weren't any adults at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in the period 1993-2001, but by luck of historical happenstance, we dodged a number of bullets during that period [right up until September 11, 2001, when we couldn't dodge the bullets any longer].

--------------------

PPS: As for the actual suggestion here of quizzing these poor retards a la Alex Trebek or Ben Stein - good grief, do you have any idea how stupid they really are?

Somebody like a Vladimir Putin might watch their performance and come to the conclusion that there's a reasonably good possibility that he could launch a first strike against us and get away with it.

And he'd be right.

--------------------

PPPS: As far as off-the-wall 2008 predictions go, though, try this one on for size - a deeply divided GOP convention will fall to summon a majority for any single candidate, and the conventioneers will offer the nomination to none other than Dick Cheney.

The big question then will be whether he will accept their offer of nomination, or decline it for health reasons.

Eugene said...

The problem with the presidential debate format is that's not what we elect presidents to do. This isn't Great Britain, and Question Time isn't part of the job description. The American President is elected to choose a cabinet (the people who actually run things) and appoint judges. In this light, another Brit idea--the Shadow Cabinet--would be a better fit. Presidential candidates should select a Shadow Cabinet, and they should debate each other. This would give the public a much better idea of the kind of policies their respective presidencies would actively pursue, and a better idea of their actual management abilities.

Anony-mouse said...

Unfortunately the Jeopardy idea too much resembles that interview that Bush was given in 2000 when he was asked to name the vice-foreign minister of Whoknowswhatstan, etc.

Interestingly one of the people Bush didn't know in that interview was who Pervez Musharraf was. as Mark Steyn has pointed out apparently Musharraf didn't know who he was at the time either.

(obviously Steyn put it better)

kevin said...

I think a better game would consist of hooking up the cadidates to lie detector machines and asking them un PC questions.

"Do you believe all races have the same average IQ?"

"Uhh ... I ... The thing is ..."

Evil Neocon said...

There are too many candidates for debates to be meaningful. Two candidates doing extended series of debates on a single topic (Lincoln-Douglas) remains the gold standard (sorry Ron Paul) for debates.

SFG said...

Paul at least made it through med school. So he can't be too dumb. Romney was a CEO, and before that worked at a high-IQ mgt. consulting firm.

Personally I suspect the dumbest candidate is Huckabee, which is exactly why I think he has the best chance to win.

Anonymous said...

I had multiple friends working in fairly low levels of the federal government in 2000 that could rattle off the names of dozens of nations' heads of state and ambassadors. I really think you are underestimating how many people know a LOT more than the president about things he really ought to know to do his job effectively.

As for the Jeopardy, I love the idea. Huckabee comes across as a typical dumb evangelical, he'd get his ass soundly whupped in every topic, including I suspect, the Bible.

Anonymous said...

Excellent idea. I would definitely watch that. I agree that the main problem is that the candidates are programmed and drilled with 'correct' answers, anything that could shake that up would be a great idea. I would say the youtube debate went some way in this direction. Though I didn't watch that either.

fifi said...

"Personally I suspect the dumbest candidate is Huckabee, which is exactly why I think he has the best chance to win."

Be nice. I think Huckabee's rise in popularity had to do with the fact that he is a good public speaker, therefore not as dumb as you'd think being from ArKANSAS. Now that he's forayed into unknown territory and proven himself a better student of theology than politics people are starting to shy away from him again. Huckabee's real problem is that he's a conservative Democrat running as a Republican. Just imagine how much lower your expectations would be for him on foreign policy issues if he were in the appropriate party.

Martin said...

I haven't seen any of the debates. I don't think it matters much anymore who the President is. Our history is now being made at the Rio Grande and at the international terminals of JFK, Hartzfeld, and LAX. We should all prepare for the post-America America.

fifi said...

"This is, hands down, the worst crop of presidential candidates in my lifetime, and, beyond that, almost certainly the worst crop of presidential candidates in the history of the Republic."

Oh, come on LV, 2000 brought us a contest between Bush and Gore, 2004 Bush and Kerry. And what do you mean nothing important is going on? Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan are all sources of conflict or potential conflict. At home there's illegal immigration...

You know last time I think I voted for the libertarian candidate, Badnarick or some such. I know it's possible that one of my least favorite Republicans will get the nomination but the alternative of Obama, Clinton or Edwards will force me to grit my teeth and cast a Republican vote anyway. So I have to disagree with you, LV. Either my one plausible candidate will be nominated or at least there will be the high drama of salvaging what's left of our democracy by voting for the nominal Republican who will be expected to keep up the pretense of being conservative for a few years anyway.

What I'm trying to say is that I'm optimistic that we're on the upswing in quality of presidential candidates. 2000 was the nadir. After that Kerry was a slightly lesser evil than Gore. 2008 will be better because despite the fact that none of the Dems are fit to be president, almost any of the Republicans will be an improvement over Bush.

I'll ignore your support for Dick "Darth Vader" Cheney in the hopes that you were suffering from a slightly elevated temperature or else drunk when leaving your comment. Not to mention the fact that it would be Cheney's VP, not Cheney who finished out his term.

William said...

This is, hands down, the worst crop of presidential candidates in my lifetime, and, beyond that, almost certainly the worst crop of presidential candidates in the history of the Republic.

Ohhhh, really? In 2000 we had Bush & McCain. This year we lost Bush & Orrin, and added Paul, Romney, and Giuliani. Are you saying that, therefore, the quality of the candidates has fallen?

The Democratic side, I'll admit, is genuinely worse. All you can really say is that elections have gotten so bad that it's hard to distinguish between the levels of bad the candidates have reached. We seem to be in for a very long run of plastic people. That's one reason to like Giuliani & McCain, even if their views render them unacceptable.

Part of this is historical in nature - there just isn't all that much of any importance* going on in the world today, and the economy is smoking

But people don't believe it's smoking. Anxiety about this nation's future is pretty high. That makes for at least potential seriousness.

I think a better game would consist of hooking up the cadidates to lie detector machines and asking them un PC questions.

Like "Do you think mass immigration benefits all Americans, or just the rich"?

That's actually a brilliant idea. But - and here I get my knowledge only from "Alias" - can't people be trained to deceive them? It seems to me most politicians probably already have this training anyway.

Our history is now being made at the Rio Grande and at the international terminals of JFK, Hartzfeld, and LAX. We should all prepare for the post-America America.

I agree entirely. That's why the only reason I watch the GOP debates is to determine who's the most sincere on immigration. For my money, it's Romney. He's not too sincere, but he never did anything as governor to make him seem beholden to open borders. Like Peggy Noonan said in the Wall Street Urinal, I think he's past the point where he can flip-flop anymore. If he gets elected (or nominated) and then backtracks on enforcement he's toast.

Paul gets more and more likeable - especially now that Derb's a fan. But I can't really see him winning.

SFG said...

I know we're all righties here, but the economy is only smoking for the rich. That's part of the problem. I mean, a lot of it has to do with immigration, yeah, especially at the lower end, but the collapse of the union movement doesn't help either.

All right, I know I shouldn't cast aspersions on Huckabee because he's from Arkansas, but unlike Clinton he didn't go for any particular higher education after that. But he's folksy enough that people like him, and I think the conservative Democrat thing would help him in the general. Be realistic people; you want to elect a Republican, unless you actually have some bizarre inversion where the Democrat is a better candidate. From the point of view of immigration I don't see it happening any time soon; any Republican will be less pro-immigration than any Democrat because of who makes up the respective bases of the parties.

Willim said...

any Republican will be less pro-immigration than any Democrat because of who makes up the respective bases of the parties. - sfg

So what's your point? We shouldn't expect to get a pro-enforcement candidate? That just at the point when immigration's getting to be a frontpage issue that we abandon it?

There is, sometimes, victory in defeat. When you let you're opponents show their true colors it turns the people in ways your own arguments wouldn't do so much. Like how when everybody thought the 2006 elections were going to be a great victory for open borders it came back to bite them.

Vote for a Republican because he'll be better on immigration, if only by a smidgen? Nope. Let the Democrats hang themselves for all the world to see. Also it serves to put the GOP on notice that they can't take their base for granted.

Anonymous said...

SFG, I don't know that we are all righties here. I'm not sure how I would define myself except to say I think Bush has done terribly. I do agree that the economy is really atrocious for a lot of the lower wage workers.

Also, the Republicans might be talking a better game than the Democrats on immigration, but I don't think they are really into it. Maybe a divided government would be better here. Then the Congressional Republicans would be more free to vote against the next comprehesive bill. (Wonder when that'll come up again, 1,2, 4 years?) Thanks to Bush's low poll numbers, some congressmen were able to listen to their constituents this time.

Anyway, I think this is a bottom up issue and the candidats, if they move on this issue at all, are going to take their cues from things like the Arizona referendum, other states similar referunda, massive constiuent emails, phone calls,etc.

I'd agree with the others though, and as I think Steve once said, 'These are the best guys we can come up with?' Ugh.

Anonymous said...

I agree with William re: Romney. He seems the most solid on immigration, and for god's sakes, he's actually *smart* and *qualified*. I could pull the lever for him with no regrets. Finally, a candidate who a) can do calculus and b) understands that a "complex" issue does not mean a leftist solution.


Founding Bain Capital is a serious accomplishment, a hell of a lot more impressive than what any of the other candidates in the field have accomplished professionally (IMO).

Edwards and Barack were shakedown artists (aka trial & civil rights lawyers), with Hillary an icy nepotism beneficiary. Props to McCain for the Vietnam thing and Giuliani for cleaning up NYC...I'd like them a lot more if I didn't know they were squishy on immigration (and plenty of other things).


Romney as prez would mean that I don't need to apologize for being a Republican.

I mean, Republicans are supposed to be the cold, calculating, smart ones. Democrats are supposed to be the empathy oozing bleeding hearts who privilege emotion over logic.

Republicans like Bush (and Huckabee!!) combine the stupidities of both parties into a Christian Socialist mixture that is the antithesis of the cold-eyed capitalist/scientist mindset we need (re: border control, spending, and so many other issues).

The worst possible election would be Obama vs. Huckabee. If that comes to pass, it's the Alien vs. Predator election -- "whoever wins, we lose".

SFG said...

I mean, Republicans are supposed to be the cold, calculating, smart ones. Democrats are supposed to be the empathy oozing bleeding hearts who privilege emotion over logic.
I don't know. Over in the Northeast where I'm from Democrats are the smart realistic ones who understand the way the world works while Republicans are a bunch of two-digit IQ inbred religious fanatics. The parties are pretty diverse, a lot more so than the stereotypes they have of each other. Parties are COALITIONS. You think George Soros and Al Sharpton are natural friends?

Willim, anonymi: I've got a lot more issues on my table than immigration, though I do want it decreased. I want us out of this stupid war that is bleeding our treasure and young men, and I want something done about global warming before the coasts sink, the Midwest becomes a desert, and Canada becomes the breadbasket of the world instead of us. So if I were a single-issue restrictionist: hmmm. Hard to say, honestly; a lot of it has to do with what goes on in CA, AZ, NM, and TX, and I'm freezing my butt off here in the Northeastern winter. I'm not going to opine on what local strategies you guys should pursue, because I have no idea what the local political climate is like. But I think you're likely to get further with any of the Republicans than you are with Obama or Hillary.

There is, sometimes, victory in defeat. When you let you're opponents show their true colors it turns the people in ways your own arguments wouldn't do so much.
Maybe. But I heard the same arguments from the left about Bush, and this has been a lousy eight years for liberalism. Be careful what you wish for.

The thing about Bush that I think nobody grasps, and that I think people here, with its mix of liberals and cons, are uniquely positioned to grasp, is that he has managed the unique feat of pissing off both liberals and conservatives. He started a war and increased the size of government. He gave tax cuts to the rich and increased immigration.

Yeah, I like Romney. After 8 years of Chimpy, I'd like to have a president with a brain again.

Sideways said...

Ohhhh, really? In 2000 we had Bush & McCain. This year we lost Bush & Orrin, and added Paul, Romney, and Giuliani. Are you saying that, therefore, the quality of the candidates has fallen?
Kerry/dean/Edwards is a lot better than the current group of democrats (in terms of competence, experience, etc, ignoring ideology). Losing Bush is a positive. It's hard to imagine one of these putzes who shouldn't have come in better than second in years past, with a few odd elections excluded.