"a fish, a barrel, and a smoking gun"
for 7 September 2000. Updated every WEEKDAY.

Hit & Run 9.7.00



Forget the polls. New data recently uncovered by Suck reveal that Vice President Al Gore has less than a one-in-four chance of winning the Oval Office. Why? Because of something we've discovered called the single-daughter theory. Bluntly stated, the single-daughter theory holds that a Democratic presidential nominee cannot be elected if he has daughters numbering any fewer than or any more than one. Sure, there are a few exceptions. That's the nature of special cases. But a look at Democratic nominees back to 1933 shows that generally, those who were fruitful in the daughter department haven't attracted voters, while those who decided one perfect princess was enough, have. Our data also show that if the daughter is under 25, from the South, and widely considered plain, her father is practically a Commander-in-Chief shoe-in. But if The Man Who Would Be Prez has sired a gaggle of raving beauties, he'd better have his writers ready with the concession speech. Karenna, Kristin, and Sarah Gore may look sweet on stage, but it turns out there are two too many of them.

FDR set the precedent. He fathered six kids, but only one, his first, was a girl. You may not hear much about Anna Eleanor Roosevelt these days, but she started a genus that, with modifications, evolved into Amy Carter and Chelsea Clinton. Harry Truman followed FDR's lead, continuing the single-daughter ascension. Historians have long known it wasn't Margaret Truman's singing voice that helped her father squeak by Dewey; our data show that the fact that there was only one of her is what helped her father keep his job. Adlai Stevenson got trumped twice by Eisenhower. Like Roosevelt, he had a whole bunch of sons; unlike Roosevelt, he forgot to have a daughter. It took the one-daughtered John F. Kennedy to return the presidency to the Democrats after eight years of Ike. If it hadn't been for Caroline Kennedy bouncing on her father's knee, Nixon could've been elected and over with by — at the latest — 1968.

The post-JFK '60s represent a time of confusion in the single-daughter theory, just as they do in other realms of American thought. Double-daughtered Vice President Lyndon Johnson moved into the White House after JFK's assassination: Did memories of the little Camelot princess help LBJ slay the Goldwater dragon? Linda Bird and Luci Baines Johnson sure were nice; did the similarity of their names conflate them in voters' minds? Clearly, more research needs to be done in this area, just as it does into the statistically improbable defeat of the single-daughtered Hubert Humphrey. Like an Adlai Stevenson improved to resemble Roosevelt, Humphrey had three sons with which to surround his one daughter, Nancy. What happened? Recent revelations of Nixon's pre-election forays into Vietnam go a little way toward an explanation, but the Nancy Humphrey phenomenon bears closer scrutiny. Was she a statistical blip or a rehearsal for the Democratic disaster that was Eleanor Mondale? One thing is certain: They were both from Minnesota. Could it be that the Land of Ten Thousand Lakes and Jesse Ventura is so cursed politically that even a Democrat with only a single daughter — even a solitary daughter talented enough to land a gig on E!, even a lone daughter dynamic enough to earn a private tête-à-tête with WJC — can't be elected if he hails from that state's icy reaches?

The single-daughter theory does make it easier to explain other Democratic disasters like George McGovern. The man had four daughters. Dukakis had two. The only Democrats elected president in the last 30 years had one each. The Gore girls, like Kara and Andrea Dukakis before them, may be lookers, but the single-daughter theory holds that their physical appeal won't do them any good with voters who are more attracted by the brainier charms of awkward-phase Democratic daughters like Amy Carter and Chelsea Clinton. Tipper Gore's DNC slide show of her family life with Al looks like a major miscalculation in the harsh light of the single-daughter theory. Could that be why their youngest daughter, Sarah, has faded so completely into the background? Is her disappearing act an attempt to make it look like Daddy Al has fewer daughters? If comedy writer Kristin Gore vanishes from the campaign trail, too, pundits will have to acknowledge that the single-daughter theory has finally gotten through to her theory-loving dad.

The Gores used to make a point of how they wanted to keep their kids out of the spotlight. Come Election Day, they may wish Tipper had never loaded up the slide carousel in Los Angeles. There may be more sophisticated stochastic models that would explain the single-daughter theory; there may be a quantitative analysis with a smaller margin of error. Unfortunately, we don't have access to those tools. It may be that single daughter theory even cuts across two-party lines. We leave that to other prognosticators and to future historians. The thought of looking into the family situations of all those guys who ran against Roosevelt is just too depressing. And in this election, the son of one Republican president provides us with so much to ponder that we don't need to bring any Republican daughters into it at all.


Where did fetishists go before they had the Web? Last week's one-click, one-hand, half-thought meditation on e-commerce and masturbation only managed to prove that the Sucksters don't get out all that much, even through their browsers. For those in need of a helping hand, there are hundreds of sites offering up a host of non-virtual kinks: from pre-ownedpanties.com to pre-owned other bits, there's something out there for everyone.

Which really, really worries us. Porn starlet Houston's well-traveled labia - beautifully, ah, mounted in glass - is hardly the most squirm-inducing item in the Web's sexual shopping cart, but it makes the innocent self-pleasure of buying a whack rag over the Web seem quaint. The blindfolds have been lifted from our eyes, and we badly want them back. Maybe the best defense of good, old-fashioned, All-American Internet porn is that it stays safely on the Internet.


Newt Gingrich always used to call himself a revolutionary. And if there's one thing that emerges from last week's PBS documentary on his last months in office, it's that he went down like one. The show provides evidence of a brilliantly narrow political thinker who, like Che Guevara or the North Vietnamese, was much better at seizing power than using it. Che bagged Cuba when the revolution succeeded, abandoning the nuts and bolts of rule for new revolutionary activity all over the place—the Congo, Bolivia, etc. And the Vietnamese communists found their organization perfectly adapted to protracted revolutionary struggle and, for that very reason, ineffective at peacetime administration. Gingrich's '94 overthrow of the House flowed from his talent at mobilizing hard-core party cadres on a national scale with an overarching vision of how to seize power. The '94 election was the first congressional campaign that was actually run as a national election. Scholars of revolution in East Asia say that insurgencies before the communists failed because they were localized. The communists won because they had a program both disciplined and national. Thus, ironically, the reasons for Gingrich's failure and success are one and the same: His strength turned out to be his greatest weakness.

Even that weakness might not have been fatal had Newt not faced in Bill Clinton a counterrevolutionary of Fujimorian skill. Time and again, Clinton maneuvered Gingrich into positions where he had to compromise or sacrifice political credibility. And every time he prepared to compromise, Gingrich got into a pickle because his strength was in his young GOP cadres. He'd mobilized his congressional freshmen around a sweeping, broad, intransigent vision of societal and political change. Gingrich would negotiate the best deal he could get--often a good one, since the pliable Clinton was almost unnervingly happy to give the Republicans what they wanted—and his disciples would refuse to let him agree to it, preventing him from getting anything done. The most infamous case in point was in late '95 and, shockingly, again in early '96 when the House freshmen refused to let Gingrich reach a budget compromise with Clinton, shutting the government down until their ratings ran red with blood.

Gingrich's young red guards expected, perhaps even hoped, that Clinton would reject their bill and force a crisis, believing this would heighten the contradictions inherent in the "system" and force the "masses" to "take sides." They were wrong, and the GOP has yet to recover from this defeat. Astonishingly, however, they continued to insist that the party conduct a war of attrition against the Clinton administration, with Stalinist-level casualties. In the documentary, Trent Lott as much as admits that the "perfectionist caucus," as he refers to them, after having forced Gingrich into untenable positions, liquidated him for their own sins. Thus Gingrich, instead of living a long life as the GOP revolution's avuncular Castro, ended up as its Maurice Bishop, leader of the Grenadine revolution, ambushed and slaughtered by his ultra-left former compatriots for alleged compromises with imperialism and the bourgeoisie.

courtesy of the Sucksters