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  • Writer's pictureSebastian H.

Using Spam to Evaluate Presidential Politics and Decency: 2008 vs 2020

Updated: Nov 19, 2021

Twelve years ago to the day, I used an analysis of spamming patterns to gauge the Internet's interest, whether positive, negative, or exploitative, in Obama/Biden and McCain/Palin. The resulting post, Presidential SPAMPAIGN 2008, includes a number of observations, but I intentionally buried the most damning revelation at the end of that post. In hindsight, how I long for those simpler times.

In 2008, both campaigns pledged to pause their campaigning (aka halt partisan bickering) on 9/11 out of respect and deference to our shared loss. Spam analysis over that week showed that the order to cease and desist was indeed honored – but to a fault – because even the dark, nasty actors pushing out fake news about McCain being a war criminal and Obama being a secret Muslim paused their hate machines too. Oops! the political machines forgot to tell their respective dirty tricks teams to ignore that directive lest it become clear that they were indeed arms of these mainstream political bodies.

Why bring this up today? Well, aside from the anniversary aspect, looking back over three prior presidential elections allows for an evaluation of what has changed and what has not.

What feels the same? Biden’s ability to generate excitement was an issue then (see the earlier post) and it still is today. Also, dirty politics isn’t anything new.

What’s different? In 2020, there was no suspension of campaigning – and, as far as I can see, no communication or cooperation between the two campaigns whatsoever – even on a topic as universal as honoring and reflecting upon our shared American tragedy. This state of affairs is truly UN-American and unprecedented.

Given the indisputable evidence showing that Biden has honored this day starting in year one and continued to do so in 2020 while Trump in "year one" bragged that his tower was now the tallest in NYC because the WTC fell – which itself was a lie – and going on to lie about thousands of Muslims celebrating 9/11 in NJ, can there be any doubt as to how we, as a nation, have sunk so low?

The question for each of us is - in November, how should we honor those who lost their lives on – and after – 911?

My suggestion? VOTE

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