Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Too Bad Michael Phelps Isn't 35

Per the 12th Amendment, candidates for the Vice Presidency must have the same qualifications as those for the Presidency, including being at least 35 years old. Thus, Michael Phelps is not available to serve as running mate for either Sen. McCain or Sen. Obama. Even the Olympics consummate running mate this year, Jason Lezak, is a few years too young. Thus, if either candidate wants to cash in on Olympic fever, he'll have to pick Dara Torres or perhaps Jason Kidd (assuming the U.S. beats Australia in the basketball quarterfinals).

Which leads me to the following question, which I'll pose more or less as an open thread: What is the effect of the Olympics on the Presidential election, each held the same year every four years? My preliminary thoughts are that it has the following impacts:

1) The Olympics help Republicans, as they stir up feelings of unalloyed patriotism, and while candidates for both parties are patriotic, Democrats tend to define patriotism in more complex ways, whereas for Republicans it tends to be more along the lines of "USA, USA, USA." (Yes, that's a vast oversimplification, I know).

2) Effect number 1 is more pronounced to the extent that US athletes succeed. Of course, the US media tend to focus on US athletes, and there are always a good number of successful ones, so this is a matter of small degree.

3) The Olympics delay the start of the general election campaign, so that there's a long period of the candidates feeling each other out after they've clinched their respective nominations. This year that period was shortened by the length of the Democratic race, but it has still seemed quite a long time since Sen. Clinton conceded. Perhaps, however, the Olympics delaying effect is swamped by the effect of the campaign finance rules. Parties schedule their conventions late, so that they can spend money raised for the primaries until the general election public funding limits kick in. Whether that will continue to be true in future cycles depends on how successful Obama's fundraising turns out to be after he dropped public funding for the general.

Posted by Mike Dorf

11 comments:

Matt said...

for Republicans it tends to be more along the lines of "USA, USA, USA." (Yes, that's a vast oversimplification, I know).

No, it isn't.

David Crowley said...

The Olympics gave President Bush a chance to give Putin a stern, face-to-face warning to not act aggressively toward Georgia at the outset of the conflict. Obviously, this worked well, and will show the electorate that the neocons know how to handle their diplomacy.

The Secretary said...

The Olympics this year gave beach volleyballers Kerri Walsh and Misty May a chance to hug, butt slap, and otherwise shamelessly promote President Bush again and again on NBC. Yet another reason beach volleyball should never have been made an Olympic sport.

Michael C. Dorf said...

the secretary's comment revives for me an age-old question: Which is the most ridiculous Olympic sport? If one goes back into history, there's a real feast of preposterous events. See the list at
http://tinyurl.com/5cr3jk
My favorite is the oxymoronic solo synchronized swimming, which was discontinued after only its third run in 1992, although I'd certainly pay to see a revival of the great sport of the plunge for distance in swimming.

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