How "Strout's Law" in 1978 predicted the Trump political scandal of 2023

Originally published at: How "Strout's Law" in 1978 predicted the Trump political scandal of 2023 | Boing Boing


I mean it would be telling if there wasn’t a major political scandal seemingly just about every year since Reagan took office. Iran-Contra, blowjobs in the Oval Office, WMDs, and let’s not forget about that time Obama wore a tan suit.

Oh, and when Trump was in office there were at least 10 major political scandals a year. So many I can’t even begin to enumerate them because of the sheer scale and amount.


Plenty of other major political scandals one could name looking backwards in time from when this prediction was made too. The selected scandals feel arbitrary; for example why start with Grant’s economic failures in 1873 instead of Jackson’s impeachment in 1868?


It takes a few generations for people to die off and the then young adults to forget how gullible they were, and start trusting the untrustworthy again. At least this points to some hope that if the republic survives this current assault, we will have another 50 years of relative political calm.


I don’t think the 50-year-span between Watergate in 1973 and Trump’s umpteeth criminal indictment in 2023 would be best described as “relative political calm.” We just had a freaking violent insurrection against the United States a little over two and a half years ago FFS.


Uh, I kind of count the whole of the Trump administration as the ‘start’ of this period of high political scandal.


So January 2017 assuming you don’t count the many scandals of the campaign itself.

I still don’t buy the premise that we didn’t have any huge political scandals between 1973 and the last few years. The Iran-Contra affair was just about as scandalous as anything our executive branch has ever done, Reagan just got away with it because he had more charisma than Nixon or Trump.


Absolutely, Iran-Contra was far worse than Watergate.

I think the biggest scandal is that the rules for scandals have been watered down beyond recognition. These days a Watergate-level scandal in Trump-world would have risen to the level of “Tuesday”. His response would be an ignorant sounding “the Democrats did it”, and then he’d double down on next week’s scandal to always keep the churn flowing.


Ditto a lot of things that happened during the George W. Bush administration. The idea that we usually get a couple of generations in between the really big scandals is frankly bizarre.


As a historian, I really can’t say I’m a big fan of these kinds of “cyclical” theories of history…

If only there were some way to not let people forget about events in the past… some sort of organized field of study, where people can go to a university to get training to do that job… sadly, no such field exists… /s

And I’d argue that not trusting our government to the point where we start electing those unwilling to govern, and putting our faith in people who proclaim that they are “washington outsiders” hasn’t exactly been helpful. The problem isn’t necessarily government, whatever Reagan might have said… it’s systems that can be corrupted and taken advantage of, for sure. But in self-governance, we get as much as we put into it. We have not put much into it for the last 50 or so years, because of events like Watergate, the Pentagon Papers, Cointelpro… all real things that rightfully broke trust with the voters… but that also allowed an even more corrupt and cynical group of people swoop in, privatize as much as they could in order to profit their friends, and stir up all kinds of trouble.

We did… anyone who doesn’t think that we did needs to take a harder look at Iran Contra (as you note) among other events…

Weighing Options Are You Sure GIF

Maybe it’s just of a different nature…

And it’s bad history.


… 10 per day, it seemed like :confused:


No kidding. I was old enough to follow along, but far too young to get the implications. When I finally did, it was a “holy shit, I can’t believe this is all public record!!!” moments.

It’s also really illustrative of the conservative mindset. They will purge absolutely anything from memory to fit the narrative. Lesson: get used to it and push back as often as you can.


I had been thinking that the death of memory explained the Great Recession, but it feels like we are already in another econonic bubble, so probably not.

And that is a low bar.

Yeah, all this seems to say is that, every 50 years, political scandals don’t stop happening, so there’ll always be one there to point to. Which isn’t saying much at all.


Yeah, it only ever looks like that in hindsight. If one squints. A lot. And ignores everything that won’t fit the narrative. Maybe be a bit overly generous with the actual dates. Cherry-picking the sources goes without saying.
Eh, good enough for think tank work, or an opinion piece in the New York Times, or a book deal, or a miniseries on the History Channel, or…


It also doesn´t project backward from there at all well. 1823: Um… The Monroe Doctrine?
We do have Monroe to thank for the acquisition of Florida, but that was four years earlier. Fuzzy cycles indeed

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Sad Kristen Bell GIF

Also, isn’t the whole concept of historical cycles associated with Oswald Spengler? And isn’t he… problematic? :thinking:


Spengler was the pre-internet version of a young man who should have gone out more. Instead of sitting home alone and coming up with questionable theories about how the world it supposed to work. And his place in this world.


Wait… is he just Hank Schrader? :thinking:


Jesus Christ Marie Mindy, they’re minerals historical insights!

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