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Late Night: Call Me Ishmael, or, The Romney Fail Whale

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The Romney high command had cloaked the system in secrecy to maintain what it hoped would be a true competitive turnout advantage. But by limiting the number of people with access to Orca, the campaign was not able to train its field operatives to use it or do the necessary beta-testing to work out the kinks that typically plague new software.

“It did not work perfectly,” said Rich Beeson, the Romney campaign’s political director, in an interview. He acknowledged that Orca crashed in the morning on Election Day. At first the campaign thought the system had been hacked, he said. Passwords and user names for the 34,000 volunteers using the program had to be reset.

I once started a job at a florist’s shop on Valentine’s Day. I was in high school, there was no Internet, and I didn’t know a Peruvian lily from a bromeliad. It was a fucking disaster. My training consisted of being taught how to open the register drawer. The phone never stopped ringing. People were coming in asking for things I had no idea if we could give them. Clueless assholes who apparently never HEARD of Valentine’s Day were begging us to make arrangements with the “my wife’s gonna kill me” plea and I wanted to brand a calendar onto their arms, like it’s the same day every year, geniuses. We ran out of roses and then we ran out of everything else, to the point where the last guy who wandered in at 9 p.m. looking like he’d been run over by a bus got a green plant for which we charged him $50 and I wanted to include a card for a relationship counselor.

You know what I learned from that experience? Ninety percent of emergencies are the result of piss-poor planning and managerial laziness. Who the fuck starts a high school kid employee with no training at a florist on Valentine’s Day? It irritates me just thinking about it now, like there was no reason that day had to be that stressful for everyone involved. I thought of that when I read this:

But Beeson also said Orca was able to provide voting data on 91 percent of the precincts and accounted for turning out some 14.3 million voters. “At the end of the day I can look any donor in the eye and say we used our resources effectively,” he said. “This is the first time we have attempted to do anything on this scale. By no means was it an abject failure.”

Actually, it kind of was, given that your candidate lost resoundingly. A victory is not that your program is shiny. A victory is that it does what it’s supposed to do.

Who the fuck rolls out a brand-new operation on fucking ELECTION DAY? Who does this? This is the world’s most easily preventable clusterfuck, and they managed not to prevent it. Was there nobody in the room screaming that “let’s take a bash at this and see if it works, Biff” is a terrible way to handle the days when things matter?

After watching the RNC I’m not surprised things went down this way, but if I was a donor and this guy looked me in the eye and said they used their resources effectively, I’d kick him in the dick. You’ve got to be kidding me. Mr. A and I rehearsed our wedding more seriously than this, and neither of us was in the running for leadership of the free world at the end of that day.


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Allison Hantschel

Allison Hantschel

Allison Hantschel is a 10-year veteran of the newspaper business. She publishes First Draft, a writing and politics blog, with her partners Holden, Jude and Scout. She is the author of the books Chicago's Historic Irish Pubs (2011, Arcadia Publishing, with Mike Danahey) and It Doesn’t End With Us: The Story of the Daily Cardinal, about a great liberal journalism institution (2007, Heritage Books). She also edited the anthology “Special Plans: The Blogs on Douglas Feith and the Faulty Intelligence That Led to War” (2005, William, James & Co.) Her work has appeared in the Chicago Sun-Times, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, the Daily Southtown, Sirens Magazine, and Alternet. She lives in Chicago with her husband, two ferrets, and approximately 60 tons of books.