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Algorithm Names Powell 'Ideal' Vice President Candidate 543

Posted by timothy
from the moldable-like-tofu dept.
CWmike writes "Turns out the ideal vice presidential candidate for Sen. John McCain is the same person as the ideal vice presidential candidate for Sen. Barack Obama, according to a sophisticated online survey based on technology developed at MIT. Mr. Ideal? Colin Powell, a former U.S. Army general and former secretary of state. Affinnova's survey methods doesn't use the typical polling method of asking respondents to pick a name from a list. Instead, it gives respondents larger concepts, including photos, biographical information and possible first-term priorities. Affinnova calls this algorithm 'evolutionary optimization.' Steve Lamoureaux, the company's chief innovation officer, said of the VP finding: 'We never imagined that the same candidate would show up for both parties.'"
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Algorithm Names Powell 'Ideal' Vice President Candidate

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  • by sohp (22984) <(snewton) (at) (io.com)> on Monday June 30, 2008 @05:17PM (#24007407) Homepage

    .. same as the old boss.

    'We never imagined that the same candidate would show up for both parties.'

    What? The Demopublicans and the Republicrats are all the same? That unpossible!

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by yuda (704374)
      I guess the more things change, the more they stay the same. I see this as the main problem with the electoral system in the states, only allowing two parties to have a real show of winning means that they both have to appeal to a range of swing voters, thus it's not particulary suprising that they are very similar in certain policy.
      • by Fozzyuw (950608) on Monday June 30, 2008 @06:12PM (#24008195)

        thus it's not particulary suprising that they are very similar in certain policy.

        more appropriately, I think it should be said that they "at least claim to be" very similar in policy.

        As you said, "the more things change...". What's the last time any politician full-filled campaign promises, besides GWB, who's pretty much said he isn't pulling out of Iraq? As some of my friends, who never waste a chance to fire a few shots off, said: "The one thing about Bush, he'll been honest. He said he's screw up this country and he did!" *badda bing*

        McCain's changing his stance as fast as Obama. There's more than enough sound clips out there of the two directly contradicting themselves in the hopes to obfuscate and confuse votes to make them believe they're on the right side. That's just par for the course. Has anything changed with the Democrat controlled congress? Nope, more Pork Barrel Ear Marked spending on pet projects and no balls to actually live up to their "out of Iraq" promises.

        The only real record one has is the voting record, which Obama doesn't have as much history of as McCain.

        • by Krater76 (810350) on Monday June 30, 2008 @07:26PM (#24009189) Journal

          Has anything changed with the Democrat controlled congress? Nope, more Pork Barrel Ear Marked spending on pet projects and no balls to actually live up to their "out of Iraq" promises.

          Oh yes, let's blame the Democrats. They are in a situation which is unwinnable. They have tried to pass many times an Iraq timetable but it doesn't get past the senate because it doesn't have any Republican support and/or Bush will veto it anyways. Without overwhelming support in the house and senate it can't survive the veto. And that's not going to happen because the White House is playing partisan politics because Bush can't stand to lose.

          Also, the Democrats have to vote for more war spending because if they don't they are sacrificing our military, and that doesn't go over well with any voter, whether you're blue state or red state.

          Giving Bush his war will hopefully weigh on many of our elected officials for the rest of their lives. They are all guilty of being fed false information and not taking the time to question it. As one of the few who voted against it, Obama is literally the only sane choice for president. That is, unless you would like to have a war with Iran as well?

          • by mOdQuArK! (87332) on Monday June 30, 2008 @09:00PM (#24010143)

            Oh yes, let's blame the Democrats. They are in a situation which is unwinnable.

            I'm really tired of that argument. The Republicans rammed their agenda down the Democrats' throats when the Republicans had a small majority. Given how hated the Republican Party is right now, the Democrats could easily crush Republican resistance if they did pulled all the parliamentary dirty tricks that the Republicans were famous for, if the Democrats did their PR right and IF THEY HAD THE COURAGE, but they keep rolling over EVERY G*D*MN time the neo-con attack machine barks.

            The Democrats are completely in charge of setting the Congressional agenda. They don't have to propose anything they don't want to, and there's nothing the Republicans can do about that. They could shut Republicans out of making any sort of legislation at all, and there's nothing the Republicans could do about that. The Democrats could refuse to allocate any money at all for Republican pet projects, and there's nothing the Republicans could do about that. They can make the Republicans do song-and-dance routines on the Senate floor to keep a filibuster going, and there's nothing the Republicans could do about that. The Democrats could do public investigations on all of the most-corrupt neo-con leader finances, and there's nothing the Republicans could do about it. But the Democrats KEEP ROLLING OVER.

            The Democratic leadership MOST DEFINITELY bears a huge responsibility for continuing the status quo, as does people like you who keep making excuses for them.

            Also, the Democrats have to vote for more war spending because if they don't they are sacrificing our military, and that doesn't go over well with any voter, whether you're blue state or red state.

            You do remember how the Vietnam War was ended, right? Congress refused to allocate any more funding for it - and suddenly, it was over.

            We can either end it now, bring everyone home, and try to use what resources we have left to lick our wounds & repair our crumbling infrastructure, or we can wait until we have NO RESOURCES left, and then they'll have to come home anyway, back to a collapsing economy where it's hard to find a job, and we're hated by the world even more then we are now - especially if we attack Iran!

            The _only_ reason Bush, Cheney & Rumsfeld haven't been perp-walked by now is because the Democratic leadership doesn't have the courage to do what is necessary to crush the neo-con leadership & restore the Rule of Law to this country.

          • by frank_adrian314159 (469671) on Tuesday July 01, 2008 @12:01AM (#24011555) Homepage

            As one of the few who voted against it, Obama is literally the only sane choice for president.

            Obama was in neither the House nor Senate when the Iraq War Resolution was voted on. As such, he could not have "voted on it". He was, at the time, a critic of the war and, since then, although he has continued to speak out against the Iraq war, he has also voted in favor of every war funding resolution that has been sent to the Senate floor while he has been a member.

            None of this is to imply that he is not still the best candidate in the race, but people should remember (a) to get their facts straight and (b) that Obama is still a relatively inconsistent politician who still needs his feet held to the fire (as evidenced both by these votes and the recent FISA flip-flop).

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by FleaPlus (6935)

        I guess the more things change, the more they stay the same. I see this as the main problem with the electoral system in the states, only allowing two parties to have a real show of winning means that they both have to appeal to a range of swing voters, thus it's not particulary suprising that they are very similar in certain policy.

        I've hypothesized that a two-party system tends to approximate the desires of the median of the voting populace, while a multi-party system tends to approximate the mean. Both have their pros and cons, but I think I prefer a government based on the median, because it tends to lessen the impact of what people on the fringe want, placing more emphasis on the center. Of course, many of us on slashdot disapprove of such a system, since we tend to be on the fringes ourselves.

    • by pclminion (145572) on Monday June 30, 2008 @05:48PM (#24007867)

      I think you're missing the point, which is that Powell in some sense falls into both parties and this is WHAT makes him (at least according to this) such a good candidate. I've done my own data mining studies on the US Senate, and the computer was able to easily divide the Senate into two camps. Uninterestingly, it placed almost all the Democrats into one camp, and all the Republicans into the other. So even a stupid computer can tell the difference.

      You're taking the one guy who bucks tradition and using it as an example for why the parties are indistinguishable. You have it completely backwards.

      (And by the way, the only Senator my data mining system got "wrong" was Hillary Clinton -- she ended up placed with the Republicans.)

      • Obama & Powell (Score:5, Interesting)

        by TiggertheMad (556308) on Monday June 30, 2008 @06:37PM (#24008551) Homepage Journal
        I think you're missing the point, which is that Powell in some sense falls into both parties and this is WHAT makes him (at least according to this) such a good candidate.

        And I think you hit the nail on the head there, but there might ba a deeper insight there.

        Powell has always struck me as an excellent choice for a presidential candidate: He has spent time 'on the inside' in the whitehouse, so he understands the job. He does not aspire to power (or he covers it far better than most), he is intelligent, and he does not seem tied too closely to the idiology of either party. In short, a competent guy who isn't a professional politician.

        Now, if a VP candidate has qualities like this that are desireable to the public at large without a strong tie to the political left or right, they will of course be desireable to both parties. The interesting thing is that qualities that make Powell an good candidate (intelligent, honest, outsider) are the same qualities that Obama seems to posess.

        McCain is a war hero, and a passable senator but I think hes going to get stomped in November. An interesting election would have been if the Republican had put up Powell.
        • Re:Obama & Powell (Score:4, Insightful)

          by wellingj (1030460) on Monday June 30, 2008 @07:02PM (#24008919)

          The interesting thing is that qualities that make Powell an good candidate (intelligent, honest, outsider) are the same qualities that Obama seems to posess.

          Maybe you should state it like this instead:

          The interesting thing is that the qualities that I see in Powell that make him a good candidate are the same qualities that I see in Obama.

          I would call the intelligence and honesty of both Obama and McCain into question. They are just good politicians.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by cduffy (652)

            I would call the intelligence and honesty of both Obama and McCain into question. They are just good politicians.

            I disagree with those who dispute Obama's honesty, but I can't say that it's an illegitimate discussion to have; there is evidence (which I personally consider weak and uncompelling) which can be used to make a case to that effect.

            On what reasonable grounds can Obama's intelligence be disputed? The man graduated from Harvard at the top of his class. He's a published author, and (in my view as a r

        • Re:Obama & Powell (Score:4, Interesting)

          by demachina (71715) on Tuesday July 01, 2008 @12:53AM (#24011885)

          "The interesting thing is that qualities that make Powell an good candidate (intelligent, honest, outsider) are the same qualities that Obama seems to posess."

          I would maybe agree excepting for Powell's role in selling the Iraq war. Either he wasn't intelligent or he was dishonest. Either he was seriously dumb to buy the case for that war, or he was dishonest selling that case if he knew it was a fabrication. That war pitch to the U.N. with the vial of Anthrax was really contemptible. He was also completely walked over by the Vice President and the Secretary of Defense which suggests he can't compete in the shark tank that is Washington.

          He was probably the ONLY insider in the Bush administration who had a slim chance and the motivation to derail the rush to war in Iraq and he failed miserably at it, since he ended up carrying the neocons water for it instead and got in front of the world at the UN and sold a lie. The U.S. paid dearly for his failure. Needless to say he had to do what his boss told him to do or resign, but if he had fought it tooth and nail, spoken out before the war and then resigned he might have derailed that whole misguided cluster fuck. He was also head of State during the time State could have salvaged Iraq but instead he let Bremmer and Rumsfeld completely screw the place up leading to a multi year insurgency. Allowing Bremmer to disband the Iraqi Army and de-Bathification were colossally stupid and practically created the insurgency that got thousands of Americans killed and maimed.

          Were it not for that one giant blemish on his record I would support him for VP.

          I'm also frequently flabbergasted that Condolezza Rice is often mentioned as both very popular and a leading VP candidate. Because she has also either been malevolent, incompetent or completely outmaneuvered by Cheney and Rumsfeld and was a disaster both at the NSC and State. She has apparently nearly wrecked the State department and she seems to never deliver tangible positive results on her major initiatives.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by dbIII (701233)

        I think you're missing the point, which is that Powell in some sense falls into both parties

        Powell - because nobody expects honesty in a vice president anymore.

        His really quite insulting WMD presentation to the UN ensured that he is never going to be taken seriously internationally.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Swampash (1131503)

      What a great idea! The guy who lied to the United Nations, the guy who covered up the My Lai massacre, the guy who led the USA into the Iraq fiasco... as a VP!

      whatcouldpossiblygowrong

  • by Chris Burke (6130) on Monday June 30, 2008 @05:21PM (#24007463) Homepage

    Powell strikes me as a vastly better civil servant than politician. But if Obama wins, he should definitely ask Powell to be Sec Def or Sec State. Hell, same with McCain for that matter. He was a good Sec. of State in an administration that didn't give two shits about him or his opinions, imagine what he could do if the President actually tried to make use of his experience and expertise.

  • by rueger (210566) on Monday June 30, 2008 @05:22PM (#24007473) Homepage
    Ooooh! Job titles like that have TRUST written all over them!
  • by Tanman (90298) * on Monday June 30, 2008 @05:22PM (#24007491)

    is that their algorithm is severly flawed.

    For example, most people - dem or rep - want responsible spending, national security, etc. Where the difference lies is in the road to take to get to that point. Any survey that says one of the primary party leaders would be the same person for either party is obviously in error.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by omeomi (675045)
      is that their algorithm is severly flawed.

      I don't know how it could be flawed. It was developed by Colin Powell himself, and is very simple to follow:

      switch(presidentialCandidate)
      {
      default:
      return colinPowell;
      break;
      }

      I don't see any bugs, do you?
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by sumdumass (711423)

        Impossible, the voting was done on a Diebold 3000 voting machine and party drink mixer combo.

        How dare you suggest something funny was going on.

    • by Kjella (173770) on Monday June 30, 2008 @06:04PM (#24008071) Homepage

      Any survey that says one of the primary party leaders would be the same person for either party is obviously in error.

      Why? It reminds me of an example from a class I took once. Imagine you have a beach with two ice cream salesmen, for the exercise assume the customers are uniformly distributed, price is equal and they have no preference or loyalty. Now the theoretically optimal is obviously that they set up at 1/4 and 3/4, each getting half the beach and the customers walk as little as possible. But then, one of the ice cream salesmen decides to stand a little closer to the center, catching more than half. The other moves closer to compensate and so it goes. Eventually they'll stand right next to each other on the middle of the beach. With both fighting for the customers in the center, they'll become more and more equal until there's basicly no difference at all.

      Try mapping it directly over to politics, with the customers as the voters and reps/dems as the icecream salesmen and the distance to the ice cream salesmen as the political distance. Everyone's fighting over the independent voters so both focus on what they want. I think what happened here is that you showed they're so close, if one is a little better at buzzword bingo it could "win" both sides. I think he should run for both parties, would be funny... Obama/Powell vs McCain/Powell, maybe it'd clue people in on how little choice they really have.

  • by LotsOfPhil (982823) on Monday June 30, 2008 @05:26PM (#24007555)
    It isn't that surprising of a result if you know Java.

    ...
    public static String pickIdealVP(Party party)
    {
    String s = "Colin Powell";
    return s;
    }
    ...

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      Nah, that's not remotely realistic. It probably looked like this.

      public static String pickIdealVP(Party party)
      {
      //Very funny, Steve. Make sure to fix this before release.
      String s = "Colin Powell";
      return s;
      }

  • Flawed candidate (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Raul654 (453029) on Monday June 30, 2008 @05:27PM (#24007565) Homepage

    Colin Powell was the face of the deception campaign the Bush administration orchestrated. He was the one who went to the United Nations, and made a whole bunch of claims that turned out to be false. He's damaged goods. Why on earth would someone suggest he'd be a good candidate in a year when the electorate is itching to repudiate everything about this war?

  • by im_thatoneguy (819432) on Monday June 30, 2008 @05:28PM (#24007575)

    Shock and Amaze! A politician who has made almost no memorable positions known on any domestic policy beyond truism of cooperation is liked by everybody!

    Of course he's a top pick by everybody--he's like Opera-- nobody knows what his actual beliefs and agenda is, therefore nobody disagrees with him. If Colin Powell were so audacious as to actually make his position known on a politically hot subject he would suddenly see his popularity plummet.

    This is America. If you agree with me you're a good guy. If you don't, you're a muslim terrorist. The only way to be liked by everybody is to say nothing of consequence.

  • mmmkay (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Bearpaw (13080) on Monday June 30, 2008 @05:28PM (#24007577)
    Yup, what the US really needs is a VP who has shown that he's willing to help out his boss by publicly giving excruciatingly bad "intelligence" to the United Nations.
    • Re:mmmkay (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Speare (84249) on Monday June 30, 2008 @05:50PM (#24007913) Homepage Journal

      I've said it before, but it didn't seem like ANYONE reported on the timing of Colin Powell's shift to supporting the war. He was steadfastly the only administration dove, until the week that he gave very off-party-line comments defending affirmative action admissions policies in universities. It was like he was given a bone, allowed to speak his mind on university admissions, in exchange for future devotion to the hawk position on Iraq. I could just imagine the "come to Jesus meeting" that must have happened in 2003. That very week, I lost all respect for the man.

    • Re:mmmkay (Score:4, Informative)

      by elrous0 (869638) * on Monday June 30, 2008 @06:01PM (#24008037)
      At least he tried [youtube.com]. He was the closest thing to a sane, competent voice in an administration almost completely devoid of either quality.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by ady1 (873490) *

      Actually Powell strikes me as a guy who was deceived by his boss.

      After all he left the Govt long ago (nobody knows why but I assume that due to some disagreement with bush), however decided not to act like usual politicians (changing sides in a heardbeat) even if it costs him his political career.

      I would personally would like to hear what he has to say before making stoning him to death.

  • by Slithe (894946) on Monday June 30, 2008 @05:46PM (#24007853) Homepage Journal
    Colin Powell would have made a great vice-president for GWB in 2000 (or even a good presidential candidate), but now his reputation has been permanently tarnished by his association with the Iraq War and the Bush Administration in general. Since we are still in Iraq, I do not think his reputation will recover any time soon. Anyway, I do not think he would make a good Presidential candidate for Barack Obama. Let's face he (Powell) is black and so is Obama. It would be best to have a white guy to 'balance' the ticket.
  • by spirit_fingers (777604) on Monday June 30, 2008 @05:49PM (#24007883)

    This is a good example of why even the best algorithms are poor predictors of human behavior. Powell probably IS one of the best, if not THE best, choices for McCain's VP. If only the world could fit neatly into the parameters considered by the algorithm. It's just not going to happen. Powell is on record saying that his wife has vetoed him being on a Presidential ticket. Period. She has personal issues around it and it's simply not in the cards. End of story. And end-of-line for El Algorithmo.

  • party priorities (Score:3, Interesting)

    by rpillala (583965) on Monday June 30, 2008 @05:51PM (#24007925)

    I was kind of surprised to see the difference in priorities for members of each party:

    The top issues for Obama supporters in the survey were middle-class tax cuts, an improved health-care system, a change in trade policy that supports U.S. jobs, increased support for alternative energy sources, and an improved education system.

    Top issues for McCain supporters were stopping congressional earmarks and wasteful government spending, reforming defense spending, cutting taxes, improving pay and support for military families, and modernizing and increasing the size of the U.S. military.

    Given that none of them are the same in those lists, how can Powell be a good choice for both at the same time? Is it simply because he's a yes man like other posters are saying?

  • Divination through dancing retired politicians is no way to run a society!

    Watery tarts throwing swords is clearly a superior methodology.

  • Fool me once (Score:3, Interesting)

    by chicago_scott (458445) on Monday June 30, 2008 @06:01PM (#24008039) Journal

    Gen. Powell was the only reason I considered giving the Bush Administration the benefit of the doubt on Iraq. If Gen. Powell wants to go back into the military then I'd say that would be great and I think we'd benefit from that as a country, but politics is apparently not his thing.

    What if we have an actual crisis and he's expected to explain to the country why we need to take some drastic action? I for one would have trouble buying his story after this Iraq debacle.

    "Fool me once, shame on -- shame on you. Fool me -- you can't get fooled again!" -George W. Bush, 2002

  • Leave out the "vice" (Score:3, Interesting)

    by John Hasler (414242) on Monday June 30, 2008 @06:25PM (#24008385) Homepage

    Turns out the ideal vice presidential candidate for Sen. John McCain is the same person as the ideal vice presidential candidate for Sen. Barack Obama...

    No. He's the ideal presidential candidate for either party.

  • by CodeBuster (516420) on Monday June 30, 2008 @06:40PM (#24008591)
    There is only one problem: Colin Powell has publicly stated on numerous prior occasions that he will not stand as a candidate for executive office.
  • Not for Obama. (Score:3, Informative)

    by statemachine (840641) on Monday June 30, 2008 @06:54PM (#24008791)

    Aside from all the opinions on Powell's character, he's a Republican. And supposing Powell would take the job, why would a Democrat want to make a Republican the president of the U.S. Senate? Powell would tie-break for the Republicans every time.

    As others have said, this algorithm is deeply flawed, if for just this reason.

  • GIGO? (Score:3, Informative)

    by smchris (464899) on Monday June 30, 2008 @08:00PM (#24009603)

    When the mainstream media inputs enough garbage into the American mind, garbage comes out?

    I can't be the only person in the U.S. who was directed to foreign web sites like the Guardian, Telegraph and Independent during the drumbeat to war. Only a few days after Powell was waving his pencil around about the killer bioweapons at the UN, the Guardian had photos of the poultry plant the White House was calling the bioweapons factory. Same with the roving bioweapons labs aka weather balloons. A rational person, who I guess would have great difficulty relating to the American people, might think Colin "I vus only followin' mein orderz" Powell's honor and integrity would be hovering around Benedict Arnold territory.

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