Hercules, Strangled Snakes, Nate Silver, and Karl Rove

In 1860, Thomas Henry Huxley wrote an essay titled, “The Origin of Species,” and a sentence from it seems apt to what happened last night with Barack Obama’s reelection:

Extinguished theologians lie about the cradle of every science as the strangled snakes beside that of Hercules.

Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight is the Hercules here and the strangled snakes are the talk radio and Fox News naysayers of demographics and polling.

Rush Limbaugh’s mysticism about a silent white majority riding beneath the radar of pollsters; the hucksterism of Dick Morris; the rationalizations of Karl Rove: these all had to come up, sooner or later, against an empirical test–an encounter with reality–and in this case, it was an election.

The below video captures one of the most delicious moments of election night; the moment when Karl Rove’s rationalizations and spin quite simply unraveled–like a strangled snake–before, at last, the accumulation of data:


Facts aren’t stupid things. Which recalls this wonderful scene from Annie Hall:


Last night, life was like this.

About Santi Tafarella

I teach writing and literature at Antelope Valley College in California.
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