Saturday, February 25, 2006

Snoopy for President: a feasibility analysis

NOTE: I never finished writing this, obviously, but I wrote a fair bit, so I'm publishing it anyway. What the hell.

...because this blog is devoted to the issues that really matter to you, the reader.

As you are undoubtedly aware, "Snoopy for President" is one of a string of novelty singles released in 1967-68, detailing the travails of Snoopy and the Red Baron. In brief, the plot of this one is that Snoopy is running for President of the You-Ess-Eh. He's so close to winning, but fuck! He's short ONE VOTE! But wait! What's this? It's his old nemesis the Red Baron, here to provide the decisive vote and put him over the top! Wow! Whodeverathunk? As with all the songs in this cycle, it's a catchy if lightweight little ditty. This one has actually aged more noticably than the others--and not just because of the hippyish "love will shine right through," but also due to its general attitude towards politics. The sort of lighthearted "ooh, those politicians and their promises! Who can tell them apart?" attitude is obsolete, as is the underlying idea that, in spite of whatever differences we might have, we're all in this together, and we'll all get by. I'm fascinated by the note on the linked page that tells us that there was originally an introduction to the song that had to be edited out due to Bobby Kennedy's assassination--a grim refutation of the whole starry-eyed idea right there.

Well, but never mind that. This song raises some real questions. Somehow not killed after all, Manfred von Richthofen, at the age of eighty-six, has at some point become a US citizen. So, if they fought in World War I, shouldn't Snoopy, a dog, be long-dead by now? Well okay, if we want to get anywhere here, we will first have to accept the elasticity of time in this narrative. But beyond that, how plausible is it that Richthofen would be able to obtain US citizenship? As near as I can tell, USCIS doesn't specifically state that having fought against the United States renders you ineligible for citizenship, but come on--it's gotta be a pretty serious blow against you, especially when you've wreaked such bloody havoc: eighty men, it is said, died tryin' to end that spree of the bloody Red Baron of Ger-man-ee. It's true that in the nearly fifty years since the end of the war, he would have had plenty of time to repent of his trespasses, but I am still HIGHLY dubious about this whole thing. I think the best we can do is assume that he deceived Immigration Services as to his true identity when he was going through the process.

But next is the real issue with this scenario: how is it that Richthofen just happened to register to vote in the one state that was just on the verge of tipping Snoopy's way? Because, as you well know, popular vote on a national level is irrelevant--when the song says that "he needed one," it must be referring to one specific state whose electoral votes Snoopy needed. You can't just change your registration on the day of the election.

As an aside, the race would presumably have been a three-way tie (three-way since the lyrics indicate that Snoopy is running either as an independent or with a third party) if the Baron hadn't arrived--I don't know this for a fact, but I would imagine that in such an event, it would fall to the governor to decide--and since Snoopy is not part of an established political party, he would presumably be out of luck. So that kind of makes sense, even if it seems illogical at first.

But back to the issue at hand. Admittedly,nothing in the song proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that it was only one particular state in which Snoopy needed one vote--there could have been multiple such states, increasing the Baron's odds of being registered in the correct one. But come on--that's just being intellectually dishonest. You know the song means to say no such thing, and thus it's pointless to speculate along those lines.


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