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There is also, of course, the way in which Ono, now in his late eighties, has resisted what, in marketing speak, is described as diluting your brand, an important consideration for Silver, who has been enjoying an unprecedented career high since the election. Or, for that matter, to be seduced by the career arc of Malcolm Gladwell, who leveraged his position at into a best-selling franchise of popular science books.(And let’s not get started on Jonah Lehrer, another New Yorker writer who stretched himself so thin that he started plagiarizing in order to keep up.) In the highly pressurized world of contemporary media, it’s all too easy to see how the demand to produce hits can undermine integrity and discipline. His daughter, he realized, would probably never see political leaders of such stature and grace, though she deserved to. More importantly, the owner of a life-sized—and lifelike—Ronald Reagan “real doll” (we presume). As she stood watching a video of Reagan speaking, he thought of Reagan and FDR, of JFK and Martin Luther King. “Leaders with Reaganesque potential no longer go into politics—and why would they, with all the posturing and plasticity that it requires? Then for no reason—this is true, it just doesn’t sound it—I thought of an old Paul Simon song that had been crossing my mind, “The Boy in the Bubble.” I muted the TV, found the song on You Tube, and listened as I stared at the soundless mile of cars and the soundless demonstrators. Don’t cry baby / Don’t cry”—my eyes filled with tears. Because some things that shouldn’t have changed have changed. Because the great choice in a nation of 320 million may come down to Crazy Man versus Criminal. Her first, indelible political memories were of lower, grubbier folk.Hopefully it’s a renewable resource, but you need time to generate thoughts and ideas.” For months in the run-up to the election, Silver, editor of Five Thirty Eight, a blog hosted by , had been analyzing the polling data and calmly explaining, to the contempt of pundits on Fox and the gratitude of viewers of MSNBC, why Obama had the election sewn up.
For Silver, data on paper is the best way to see what’s in front of us, so long as we don’t allow our biases to get in the way.
There was Karl Rove on polling night, sputtering and spinning on Fox News, insisting it was too soon to call Ohio.
There was columnist and Reagan speechwriter Peggy Noonan a day before the election, writing of a near-certain Romney surge.
“Just dedication to every little aspect of every little thing.” We are in a small restaurant in Brooklyn one Sunday shortly after the election that returned Barack Obama to the White House, and Silver is enjoying the rare prospect of an afternoon watching college football and drinking beer with his friends.
“I can’t believe it’s a Sunday when I actually go and do nothing and not feel guilty about it,” he says as a waiter takes his order for a Michelle, a cocktail involving jalapeño-infused tequila, beer, lime, and tomato juice (Silver liked it so much, he had two of them).