Political prognosticators, you know…geeks, are always on the lookout during every presidential election for the October surprise. Basically, the idea is that one campaign has some real juicy dirt they’re holding close to their vest that they’re planning to release in mid to late October very close to the election. And when they release it, they’re all like, “Gotcha, motherfucker!!! Nobody’s gonna vote for you now, you sick bastard!!! HAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!” And sometimes, it actually works out that way.
Sometimes, the so-called October surprise comes from news outlets, though they rarely hold onto something for timing. Usually, a news outlet releases news when they have it and they feel their reporting is as complete as it’s going to get. In October 2016, The New York Times released a story that Donald Trump hadn’t paid taxes in 18 years. How effective was that story? Well, Trump won. Illegally, but he still won.
October surprises go way back and are often deliberate. In October 1840, President Martin Van Buren had prosecutors, members of his own party, charge Whigs (remember those guys?) for paying Pennsylvanians to travel to New York and fraudulently vote multiple times in the state’s 1838 elections (which is what Trump tells his people to do now). They timed the charges for mid-October and even though the Whigs were guilty, the public felt it was a dirty trick by the Democrats and they ousted Van Buren.
In October 1880, The New York Times published a letter supposedly written by the Republican nominee, James Garfield, where he endorsed Chinese immigration and employers buying their labor. As it turned out, he didn’t write the letter but it nearly cost him the election.
In October 1920 (This one’s good), Democrats released information that Warren Harding had “Negro” blood and Republicans released information that as Assistant Secretary of the Navy, Franklin D. Roosevelt (who was the veep nominee) authorized an investigation into homosexuality in the Navy and in order for investigators to find out if it was true (this is where it gets good), for them to engage in homosexual acts (that probably wasn’t dancing to “In The Navy”). The accusations were that FDR had allowed 83 seamen (get it? Semen? I’m a Beavis) convicted of “unnatural acts” to return to duty. Harding won. Apparently in 1920, homophobia might have been slightly stronger than racism.
In 1964, an FBI agent leaked to the GOP they were investigating an aide to Lyndon Johnson for visiting a Washington YMCA where he was engaging in gay behavior (man, this country has a long history of hating gays). During the investigation, the FBI even set up peepholes which sounds less like investigating and closer to participating. The aide was arrested for doing “gay stuff.” But, there were other October surprises. China tested their first atomic bomb and the Soviets ousted Premier Nikita Khrushchev. With such international concerns, the public decided to stay the course with Johnson as Goldwater was scarier than gay bath houses.
In October 1968, LBJ, trying to help Hubert Humphrey, announced an end to bombings in Vietnam and the start of peace talks. Richard Nixon, who truly was a Tricky Dick, contacted the South Vietnamese through back channels and convinced them not to participate in any peace talks until he was president. Three days before the election, South Vietnam announced they were withdrawing from the peace talks. Nixon won. Another interesting part of this is that LBJ heard of this and had the RBI wiretap the Nixon campaign. Donald Trump claims Obama spied on his campaign, which is bullshit, but LBJ literally spied on the Nixon campaign.
In October 1972, Nixon still hadn’t ended the Vietnam war and there were no peace talks. But, he had Henry Kissinger rush from Paris (where talks were supposed to be held) to Washington where he conducted a huge press conference, days before the election, and announced “peace is at hand” despite there not being any actual peace talks at the time. Peace was nowhere near “at hand” and the war lasted two and a half more years. Tricky Dick won.
In October 1980, Iran announced they were not releasing U.S. hostage until after the election. Jimmy Carter lost after refusing an October surprise of rescuing the hostages after an earlier attempt failed. Iran released the hostages literally while Ronald Reagan was being sworn in. To this day, there are still accusations the Reagan campaign somehow convinced Iran to delay releasing the hostages though no evidence has ever turned up. But still, it’s fishy as hell. Republicans framed it as Iran being so afraid of Reagan, they released the hostages right as he became president. The truth of the matter and what was truly obvious: Iran really just wanted to fuck Jimmy Carter. Afraid of Reagan? My ass! They became illegal arms customers of his.
In October 1992, four days before the election between President George H. W. Bush, Ross Perot, and Bill Clinton, the Independent Prosecutor indicted former Reagan Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger for lying about his involvement in the Iran-Contra scandal. I doubt it had any effect, but Clinton won. The lousy economy and “no new taxes” is probably what killed Bush’s reelection.
In October 2000, Fox News (really?) released information days before the election that George W. Bush had been arrested in Maine for drunk driving way back in 1976. Karl Rove believes it cost Bush five states (it didn’t), the popular vote, and gave us the entire hanging chad Florida scandal which put the election into the hands of the Supreme Court.
In October 2004, Osama bin Laden released a new video telling us how much he hated George W. Bush which truly helped Bush win his reelection against John Kerry. It also helped that he was running against John Kerry. This sort of thing can’t happen for Donald Trump because the truly slimy people of the world are people he hugs.
In October 2008, the stock market’s fall accelerated and unemployment reached a 14-year high. The GOP held the White House and their candidate, John McCain, stumbled by not being able to recall how many houses he owned. Seriously. It also didn’t help John McCain that he was running against Barack Obama.
In 2012, a secretly-recorded tape of GOP nominee Mitt Romney talking to big money fat cats at a private event was released. In it, Romney chastised half of the nation by saying, “There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what. All right, there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has responsibility to care for them.” After the election, even Romney admitted it sank any hope he had of winning. He told an interviewer, “There’s no question that hurt and did real damage to my campaign.” It also hurt that he was running against Barack Obama.
Rolling Stone (the magazine, not the band), claims the 2016 election had over two dozen October surprises. There were Trump’s taxes, the revelation he lost $916 million in 1995, New York state shut down his illegal charity, the Hollywood Access tape came out (“grab them by the pussy”), reports that Trump would barge into teenage beauty contestants’ dressing rooms to ogle them while they were naked, more allegations of Trump’s groping, release of a tape of Trump saying about a pre-teen, “I am going to be dating her in 10 years,” another tape of Trump telling a group of 14-year-old girls, “Just think, in a couple of years I’ll be dating you,” revelations of a direct communication link between the Trump campaign and the largest private Russian bank, more allegations of Trump’s groping, news the FBI was investigating a tip that Russia had been cultivating Trump for the presidency for years, and then a bunch of more accusations of Trump’s groping.
But what also came out was FBI Directory James Comey telling the public he was investigating Hillary Clinton’s emails, emails that belonged to Anthony Weiner, then conducting a second press conference saying there wouldn’t be any charges against Clinton. After being gaslighted by the Far Right for over two decades, all the public needed to hear was the FBI director say “Hillary” and “investigation” in the same sentence. Thank you, James motherfucker Comey. Basically, the gaslighting of Hillary Clinton outweighed the creepiness of a racist old conman who steals from charities telling pre-teens he’ll be dating them in the future. This country is fucked up.
This October, Donald Trump keeps going for the October surprise and he keeps failing. This week, The New York Post published a story about Hunter Biden’s emails between him and Ukraine. Of course, The New York Post is a shit tabloid so it’s nothing.
Donald Trump was hoping a huge reveal would come out from his corrupt Justice Department about Obama and Biden unmasking Michael Flynn during an FBI investigation. Trump, senators like Rand Paul, congressmen like Jim Jordan, and Fox News fucknuts have been telling us this is “treason.” This week, the Justice Department’s politically-motivated investigation into its own investigation landed with such a thud, that they didn’t even bother with a public report.
Now, Trump is getting desperate. His latest October surprise is that the raid Obama authorized that killed bin Laden didn’t kill bin Laden. No, it killed a body double. Donald Trump retweeted a conspiracy theory by Qanon despite saying last night at his train wreck of a town hall, that he doesn’t know anything about Qanon.
We have about 20 days until the election. Expect more “surprises,” especially as Trump’s polls get worse and he becomes more desperate. I expect them to resemble this cartoon.
If you think we’ve seen insane Trump now, wait until we get even closer to November 3. And for full-on crazy Trump, wait until after he loses.
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