What Will Be Obama’s October Surprise(s)?

Over at NationalReview.com this week, Jim Geraghty interviewed his famous but anonymous GOP operative, known to readers as Obi-Wan. OW has been remarkably on point with most of his predictions over the years, and now he points to what he expects will be a string of “October surprises” from the White House as desperate Democrats try anything to stop the electoral tsunami heading their way. What do you think is up the Chicago gangs’ many sleeves?


  1. Phil Leadbeater says

    Could be any or all of these (some of these are tongue-in-cheek):
    -missle attack on Iran
    -a promised revamping of the Obamacare Bill
    -Hillary will be asked to be VP in place of Biden
    -O’s birth certificate will be posted online
    -Oprah will replace Hillary as Sec. of State
    -everyone who votes Democrat will get a free I-pod
    -everyone who is unemployed will be promised endless benefits if Dem’s win
    -O will promise no more vacations till 2011 if Dems keep control of Congress
    -and, the mother of all predictable surprises: everyone will be warned…young and old will die a cruel and hideous death if the GOP regains control.

  2. Andrew Jones says

    As the significant majority of the American people who are filled with doubt and disgust regarding their own government prepare to grant a mandate for reversal to the GOP, I seriously doubt those same doubting and disgusted Americans will be much influenced by political “surprises” announced by the administration’s allies. However, if the very people and party in whom the voters are moving to support begin to equivocate and speak about “new spirits of bipartisanship” or otherwise indicate compromise on the values they are being sent to protect, that will do much harm to their chances. The tepid resolve of John Boehner is a bigger danger to GOP electoral chances than a last minute scandal pushed by Democrats to the mass media.

    I happen to believe that the Republican Party is the best option for reducing government’s size and imposition while avoiding political chaos. Yet, like many principled conservatives, I am skeptical that the party retains a commitment to small government. I’ve seen three Republican presidents in my lifetime, and only one of them seemed to understand, much less articulate that “Man is not free unless government is limited.” Other’s certainly share this view.

    When I hear that the incoming majority cannot muster the will and organization needed to pull earmarks off the table, I am not merely disappointed. My anger at the current majority is directed at the new, and doubly so. I do not expect Democrats to curtail the power of government and I do not vote for them. I may be angry, but they have not betrayed me. When I learn that the Republicans aren’t even willing to pledge to stop contributing to the problem, I am angry. They said they would help, and have gone back on their principles. I did vote for them and now feel betrayed. In my eyes, the brand suffers.

    The most damaging October surprise won’t come on the pages of the Times or as a special report on CNN. It will be the reasonable and restrained argument of significant figures on the GOP. There is only so much they can do, you see? We need to have a comprehensive package of reforms and, yes, they should include border security, but we can’t push for just that. Repeal isn’t a reasonable goal at this time, besides, there are good parts of the bill that we were able to get in, and they would be hurt by blanket defunding. Our compromise bill on tax cuts has the best chance of clearing the Senate.

    Trust is razor thin. Desire for action is high. Many voters perceive a crisis of principle in government. The surest way to see a rising tide shot in the foot is to come out in a calm paternal voice and tell the voters they don’t understand the complexities of Washington and that things have to be done a certain way.

    • philorida says

      Good thoughts Andrew. Your points explain why the Republican majority faltered from 1996 – 2006. It was incremental and a steady demise, but, most of it was self-inflicted. Once Gingrich was neutered and Hastert took over–no one, even GOP voters, saw determined leadership promoting small govt. If we fail again, esp. with sexual failings by individual Congressmen(which destroy Republicans much more than Dems), we may not regain power for decades.

      • Andrew Jones says

        I think (hope) that the conservative electorate is becoming much more informed, active, and tactical in their political thinking. The GOP is still seen as the best vehicle to move their principles forward. With a GOP controlled House and closely divided Senate, the Republicans will have a lot of room to maneuver in the last two years of President Obama’s term. Appropriate rhetoric can likely carry them through, even if results are limited. However, come 2012, when they control the House, possibly the Senate, and quite likely the White House, results will be expected. If voters with strong core beliefs but little party loyalty become convinced at this point that the GOP cannot/will not drive hard for their principles when given the power to do so, do not be surprised if these new activist conservatives do something, rather than just sitting it out, significant to reflect their displeasure.

  3. Mark Selby says

    Free Health Care
    Free Housing
    Free Gasoline
    Free Food
    Free Cable TV
    Free Everything

    And since everything is free, we won’t have to work anymore.

  4. Doug Bentley says

    “0” (Zero) will “promise” things (but of course will not follow through, at least not how most Americans would want):
    -“The Democrats in Congress have tried to reign-in the Bush Republicans only to be opposed at every turn, so I am directing my Cabinet Secretaries to undergo an analysis of how to cut the growth of their departments by 10% so that the Bush Republican deficits can be brought under control.”
    -“We are going to prevent the Bush Republican tax increases from going through on the poor and middle class.”
    -“We have heard you and are going to make ‘improvements’ in the health care reform act that the Bush Republicans prevented us from doing for you in the first bill.”
    -“I will convene a panel of national religious leaders to begin a discussion of religious liberty issues and begin the process of understanding and reconciliation of our sacred traditions in light of the Bush Republican opposition to the Muslim Community Center on private land in Lower Manhattan.”
    -“Etc., ad nauseam ”

    Of course I cannot think like the Dems so my failure of imagination is way off from what the real October Surprise will be.

    • Hugh Hewitt says

      He could “promise” 10,000 things and that won’t matter to a cynical electorate. What will he actuually do?

      • Doug Bentley says

        He’ll send 30,000 national guardsmen to the border states because of “a clear and present danger of drug cartels infiltrating our borders and the danger they pose to the helpless immigrants trying to return to Mexico.”

  5. Les Rankins says

    Others have said this but I hope for a real strike at the Iranian nuclear program. Not some pointless cruise missile strikes but the real deal. This of course would indicate that he is moving to the centre and abandoning his lunatic left base so the chances of it happening are slim.

    • Hugh Hewitt says

      About the only surprise that would merit a bump, but as you note, only if it was serious , sustained and effective

  6. Nick Stuart says

    Obama orders James Carville, Keith Olberman, Chris Matthews committed to a mental instition, and the entire roster of Journ-o-list ordered to penal servitude in Guantanamo.

  7. Bill Long says

    With prior presidents, the theories for an “October Surprise” were typically miltary-related actions. I don’t think we have to worry about that with this president. I think his surprise is a scheme to trump the Republicans’ plan to extend the Bush tax cuts with some inane idea about another “middle class” tax cut. The bully pulpit will serve as a valuable forum to get free air time and bash anything Republican

  8. Chuck Gunn says

    Maybe He will resign, which will give us 2 year of “Slow Joe” and Hilary can be VP 2 years early.

  9. dahveed says

    I think he will ask Congress to extend the Bush Tax Cuts. The question will be whether Pelosi and Reid oblige him.

    I think Reid more likely than Pelosi will push for the extension.

  10. Bourbon Boy says

    I think this group is so incompetent that they won’t even be able to pull off an October surprise. If they do, it will be so ham-handed and poorly done that it will turn even more people against them. They haven’t been able to manage anything well thus far, why should this be any different?

  11. Nick Stuart says

    He’ll offer a grand compromise: tax hikes and spending cuts. Republicans will be painted as the party of now because they won’t go along with it.

  12. Chris Rowan says

    The tried-and-true method for distracting the general public has always been some sort of military show of power, so I expect something on the order of Granada ’83 or Panama ’89. Given Obama’s Muslim outreach initiatives throughout this tenure, I don’t think Obama will help the Israelis bomb Iranian nuclear facilities. How about another humanitarian relief mission to Somalia? Or Yemen? Whatever it turns out to be, the overt flexing of military muscle will not play well. Obama is no war hawk. He isn’t even a pacifist. Obama doesn’t think deeply enough to be a pacifist. Obama is simply in over his head, and he will react as other heads of state have reacted in ages past, by lashing out at an enemy that poses little or no threat.

  13. Donald Smith says

    Here are some thoughts:

    – Another stimulus package, targeted at middle-to-lower-income voters. Also, yet another extention of the homebuyer’s credit.
    – Rebate checks!
    – Siccing Eric Holder’s Justice Department on Wall Street. Perhaps a publicized arrest, complete with perp-walk, of some Wall Street fat cats. Then, Obama could say that he’s following through on his pledge to stick it to the evil rich. Other good targets—executives from health care insurers or pharmaceuticals.

  14. Mark Engi says

    Payroll tax holiday bill brought up in congress

    Extension of the drilling moratorium and establishment of new restrictions for drilling on land.

    The President announces that Michèle Flournoy will replace Gates in January

    At least two scandals involving Republican congressmen. (If the leadership knows about any skeletons, get them out in the open now).

    Presidential visit and speech in Afghanistan and/or Iraq.

    A state visit to Mexico to establish some kind of broad anti-cartel partnership.

  15. Mark McNeil says

    The tide is so far out; only miracles of Biblical proportions can save this election cycle for Obama and the Democrats. There are only a few arenas that could have national implications:

    a. A massive decrease in energy costs could affect Obama’s approval rating to the positive. Perhaps the Saudi’s (or multiple oil producers) open the oil spigot, doubling the world’s daily oil supply. The Saudi’s could use the rationale of new gigantic oil finds in already drilled fields or a benevolent concern over the world economy, whether true or not.

    b. A 2,000+ point run up in the Dow before November would also help Obama, perhaps ignited by (a.) above.

    c. The various public unions go for broke by wagering ALL their cash and borrowing ability into the campaign for Democrats, overwhelming opposition spending 100 to 1.

    a. A failed assassination (or kidnapping) attempt, wounding the President (or a member of his immediate family) by an enraged right winger with blame attached to a group of military, tea party, traditional marriage and/or pro-life advocates.

    b. Doctors find cancer (or other terminal disease) in the President (or a member of his immediate family.)

    a. Nobel Peace Prize winner President Obama signs a 7 year peace treaty with Israel and various Arab countries.

    The federal government comes to the immediate rescue in a major disaster. Since Mother Nature is an unlikely accomplice, the disaster would have to be man made in the category of a nuclear weapon detonation, a major dam failing or another 9/11 type attack.

    Extra Constitutional:
    Using Hugo Chavez type maneuvers is possible but I see no scenario that would ultimately turn out positive for Obama and the Democrats.

  16. Dave Hetrick says

    October surprise is the Dems will gain ground because the Media (Hugh included) will condemn the Republicans for “lack of effort” before they even win the House back. Hugh, I agree with your premise that they should be playing to win instead of PLAYING NOT TO LOSE but don’t you think this could be counter productive? Yes, Boehner should be more committed to an agressive agenda but I think he’s being cautious verses cocky. Once the elections are over we can remind them about 2006 and hold their feet to the fire.

  17. Thomas says

    Bill Clinton would freely fire cruise missles when he needed a poll bump, but I don’t see Obama doing that. I do not expect any conventional surprises, but a mix of things discussed above, all of which will be designed to dampen voter intensity on the right (including especially independents planning on voting R this year):

    1) Give Graham, McCain, et al. as much face time as possible (McCain & Graham have occasionally been good this year, but both can also be counted on to be moderate if given the chance).

    2) Propose extending the Bush tax cuts for households with < $250K in income (this is already being done). This will have limited impact.

    3) Run slow-motion grainy black and white footage of Paul Ryan with an ominous voice over warning about the doom of Social Security. This will probably not work very well this time.

    The one that can do the most damage is (1)–as the interview with Boehner showed, the sense of urgency is not there yet when it comes to how to conduct the first few weeks of the next Congress. That plus a spotlight on Republican moderates will help remind voters of what they didn't like about Rs the last time they were in power. It won't make them vote D, but it might make them stay home.

  18. Rocket Richard says

    I think it’s already happening with him talking up “Business Tax Breaks”. They will try to steal some the ideas of what the Conservatives have been saying and then spin them into something that looks like what people want, but it is all smoke and mirrors. He is so narcissistic, he doesn’t have the political backbone to continue the Bush Tax Breaks; he will have to change them in a way so that they will be called “Obama-Tax-Breaks.
    They will try some Democratic political circus tricks, but the “Beltway Politicians” are so out of touch with the rest of the country, “the Silent Majority” (remember that!) will not be fooled and vote these socialist out of office. Whenever I talk to my liberal friends about politics, it amazes me that they always look over their shoulder before speaking their real mind. I think a lot of Democrats have buyers remorse.

  19. Mona Gibson says

    Pres Obama will sell Arizona to Mexico and THEN build a multi-layer fence/wall around the former state to keep us crazy racists out of his precious United States – then there’ll only be 56 states, oh well.

    He may also declare that Phoenix is the new Jewish state and allow the Palistinians to have complete control of the area formerly known as Israel.

  20. NeoConScum says

    His Infantile Majesty goes off-TOTUS and claims that Republicans/”Special Interests” will treat him “like a dog”..and..errr…ummmmmm…Martial Law must be declared on kibble, beggin’strips…and…ohhhh.

    Never mind.

  21. Witty Username says

    What options does he have though? nothing on the domestic front surely. Short of wheeling out OBL in shackles before election night his goose is pretty much cooked.

    It’s the economy, Mr President.

  22. Matthew Gil says

    Call it an October surprise or something else, but I am curious what embargoed news stories the New York Times is sitting on and has queued-up for October.

  23. James Martin says

    Remember the “n-word-shouting tea partier” allegations by Reps. Lewis & Jackson Jr.?

    I predict hat a video of the incident will be released the day before election day, showing that it really happened…and two days later, some conservative blogger’s investigation will identify the n-word shouter as a moveon.org infiltrator.

  24. Michael Walsh says

    How about the missing billions of Porkulus $$$ mysteriously appear in the campaign accounts of endangered Congress critters and progressive PACs, and it’s 24/7 Boooosh-bashing?

  25. Sam Sanchez says

    I don’t think any October surprise can stop the juggernaut about the decimate the democrat stranglehold on the U.S.

    The electorate is simply to angry. I’ve never seen anything like it and neither have the dems.

  26. Michael Holian says

    He will implement a playoff system in College Football…

    Seriously, some good comments in here…

  27. Matthew Gil says

    I just figured it out. The Republicans create their own October surprise by self-detonating their prospects by choosing loony candidates and allowing a potential Speaker of the House to shoot his mouth off.

    Speaking of foot-in-mouth, Michael Steele has been pretty quiet as of late.

  28. philorida says

    Now that it is October, I thought I would revisit this pertinent and realistic topic…I thought of a few more (you will figure out which ones I am being facetious about):
    –claim that Osama Bin Laden was killed (even a body, though unrecognizable will be produced).
    –membership cards will be produced of key GOP candidates being KKK members…
    –Youtube videos will be release (doctored of course) with GOP candidates having fangs and blood dripping from their mouths after having devoured illegal immigrants…
    –Unions will encourage Obama to declare Marshal Law…
    –etc., etc.

  29. John Gorski says

    The October surprise happens in December when the Dems push through their entire wish-list under the guise of a “budget”. They know the election is lost and, by December, the pols will have no fear of voter backlash.

  30. ted trepanier says

    I’m still Waiting-g-g-g-!!

    I do like their strategery of pumping up the base (or trying to, anyways). If they can get two extra percentage points out of their base it could make the difference in some of these races.

  31. Matthew Gil says

    The “races are tightening” narrative that the media industrial complex is now spouting. Are they really? Why is that?

    If this electoral cycle is going to be a wave cycle, then I wonder how well these polls are at gauging intensity, rather than a likelihood of voting for a candidate.

  32. Jorge Miyares says

    Today we heard the news that Bill Clinton tried to get Kendrick Meek to quit the Senate race here in Florida and endorse Charlie Crist. Didn’t he also try to get Andrew Romanoff to quit in Colorado, and Joe Sestak in Pennsylvania? I suspect that ambitious Democrats might stop taking Bill Clinton’s calls!

  33. ted trepanier says

    Time for a new thread. What WAS the October Surprise? Lots of options. The doubling down of SEIU and other monies in the last minute and the bringing up of Democrat ma and pa issues?

  34. ted trepanier says

    Pat Caddell has an interesting concept. The terror announcement the weekend before the election caused both Rs and Ds to double down to their comfort level and voted 55-43 for Dems. 10% of the exit polls showed that as number 1 issue when they voted. Pat predicted a 2% D advantage overall. Patty Murray?