I'm doubling down on my prediction that Edward Snowden will someday return to the United States, run for president on a third-party platform, and win in a landslide.

This assumes two things, both of which seem likely to me:

1. Snowden someday gets a presidential pardon or he decides to come back and endure a public trial that he wins because 12 jurors of his peers won't convict the guy who went after the government on their behalf.

2. The government of the U.S. continues its downward spiral of credibility.

I wasn't sure Snowden was smart enough to pull off a presidential win until I read his response to the criticism of his recent appearance on Russian TV in which he asked Putin a question about Russian surveillance. Some pundits thought he was being a puppet for Putin, and I'd have to assume Putin was hoping he would be just that.

Today Snowden slipped a shiv into Putin with this open letter. You think Snowden is sitting on a bean bag chair, but no, those are his gonads.

What really caught my attention was his writing style. If your eyes are the mirror of your soul, I think your writing style is the mirror of your mind. Maybe it's the writer-nerd in me, but I feel I can tell a lot by how people form thoughts on paper. It's quite possible that someone helped him with the writing, or at least the editing, but it reads like the work of a single author. So I'm going to say he wrote it and perhaps someone gave it an edit polish. And if he wrote it, he's the real deal.

I assume if he comes back to the U.S. he will be the victim of some interesting smear compaigns. But I think he'll survive them. Depending on the sources of the smears, it could make him stronger.

Does anyone agree with my prediction? (I'd be surprised if you do.)


Scott Adams

 Co-founder of CalendarTree.com

Author of the best graduation gift ever.



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+1 Rank Up Rank Down
Apr 26, 2014
This is astute prediction, a little bit less likely than the canals across America prediction, but both have probability of at least 0.000000000000000000000000000000001%, possibly more?
+1 Rank Up Rank Down
Apr 21, 2014
What makes you think Snowden would want to be president?
+7 Rank Up Rank Down
Apr 20, 2014
You're forgetting that the vast majority of the public has no idea who Snowden is or what he has done.
Apr 20, 2014
I'm curious what you found compelling in Snowden's article.
+4 Rank Up Rank Down
Apr 20, 2014
Snowden's letter laid his points out logically and coherently, if that's what you considered impressive about his writing style. He also tried to set out an explicit agenda for future public debate in the USA and Russia in particular regarding government surveillance in each of those countries.

But I'd expect no less from someone who has placed himself in Snowden's current position: even if he wanted to, there's really no way for him to credibly retreat from his public posture of defiant opposition to indiscriminate governmental surveillance (a stance with which I happen to agree). He presumably considers that by giving Putin as much political capital as he did by seeking refuge in Russia from the authorities in his own country, he is safe -- for now at least -- from the potential capriciousness of a Russian president who might have been irritated by his televised question.

Another reason that Putin probably feels he has little to fear from Snowden's gadfly antics is that the Russian government exercises extensive control over its domestic media, which it uses as an arm of official propaganda in very much the same fashion as the earlier Soviet regime.

My impression is that most Russian citizens lack the media savvy and sense of political empowerment (among other things) that could spur them to publicly object to the heavy official manipulation of the news agenda, let alone their government's surveillance machine. (In passing, it's worth noting that with its effective monopoly of each of these areas, the Russian government has very considerable control over both the collection and the dissemination of information as this relates to the Russian population.)

Putin is also very skilled in applying 'divide, distract and dictate' governance tactics, as we have seen with his remarkably brazen military and political incursions in Ukraine. Provided that the Russian president is able to maintain his ability to keep all his domestic ducks in a row, Edward Snowden's interventions are unlikely to worry him.
Apr 19, 2014
Is he tall, and does he have good hair? That's what really matters!
Apr 19, 2014
Irony, indeed. Bhang on, sir!
-16 Rank Up Rank Down
Apr 18, 2014
Have some respect for your audience and don't shovel this stuff on us that even you don't take seriously. No one is this stupid, so I can tell you're doing it on purpose, and treating us like we *are* this stupid. It's insulting.

[Irony alert! -- Scott]
-4 Rank Up Rank Down
Apr 18, 2014
In order to gain credibility, Snowden must meet Putin face to face, rip off both their shirts and challenge him to a judo match. Putin will think he has the upper hand, having been a judo champion in his youth.

Snowden, however, having watched all three Matrix movies and having access to secret virtual military training programs will beat him easily. Humiliated, Putin will not only return Crimea but also apologize to Georgia, plus give all of the customers for Russian gas and petroleum free service for one full year. He will promise to keep his shirt on from now on and admit that, yes, he is gay.

Snowden will reveal this was his plan all along, and a grateful U.S. will offer the presidency to him without an election. Obama will protest, but nobody will listen. However, Snowden will humbly decline, meet Pope Francis, and agree to be canonized while still living, which rarely happens.

This all will eventually be made into a movie starring Brad Pitt as Pope Francis.
Apr 18, 2014
I agree with your prediction, and this is one way it might happen. Putin will need to distract the U.S. from his Ukrainian escapades during the coming months, especially after the GOP debates begin, because they'll likely be the scene of much war posturing and Putin-bashing.

Putin will show Snowden on TV regularly to distract US news cycles. But here's the secret sauce: Snowden will always be wearing a cowboy hat. This will be irresistable to the GOP. Eventually, John McCain and Rand Paul will sponsor a diplomatic mission to bring Snowden back to the U.S. Before landing in Washington, they'll stop at the Bundy Ranch in Nevada where he'll give a brilliant speech about getting the government off our backs. Back in front of a Congressional committee, Edward Snowden will be exonerated faster than Oliver North.

"Stetson" Snowden will then mature on the GOP fundraising circuit until he turns 35. At one dramatic point he'll shoot the pistol out of the hand of a guy who's taken Sarah Palin hostage. This will be proven to be TOTALLY NOT a setup, and this will carry him through the 2020 GOP primaries, after which he'll defeat Hillary. His running mate will be Jeb Bush who for some reason has been appealing to the hipster crowd. Maybe it was the monocle.

After the election, it will be revealed that under his cowboy hat, Snowden has gone prematurely bald. This will hobble his popularity and make it almost impossible to get any help from congress. This means the "Women's Salary Restitution Act of 2017" will stand, and women will continue to get double salary.

+10 Rank Up Rank Down
Apr 18, 2014
>>Am I the only one the rolls my eyes whenever Scott throws out obviously gimmicky hooks?

Either hit to the opposite field or bunt.

But... just have Snowden be Vice-President to a legitimate third party candidate, heavily supported by Putin, then through an accident become president. He's golden until we find out, then it all comes down like a House of Cards.
Apr 18, 2014
Let's consider a more likely possibility:

1. Someone more respected that Snowden decides to run as a 3rd-party candidate. It shouldn't be difficult to find such a person -- all they have to do is speak out against the government on matters of privacy, and not leak and state secrets or otherwise be considered a traitor by a significant portion of the US voters.

2. The government of the U.S. continues its downward spiral of credibility.

What I think Scott is suggesting (or I could be hallucinating) is that, right now, virtually anyone could be a credible presidential candidate as long as they aren't a Democrat or Republican.

I don't think that candidate would win the election. It would require that at least half the Democrats and half the Republicans decide to abandon their own parties.
-13 Rank Up Rank Down
Apr 18, 2014
Am I the only one the rolls my eyes whenever Scott throws out obviously gimmicky hooks?

i.e. "Does anyone agree with my prediction? (I'd be surprised if you do.)"

Obviously it goes with the territory of this blog (along with a heavy dose of egotism), and sometimes it's hilarious, and the content and thought provoking nature of the posts make it worth enduring. But, for me, it lessens the credibility of the blog. But maybe it drives more viewers, or most people don't notice/care.
Apr 18, 2014
I agree with a lot of what you say, but I'm not real impressed with the notion of his being president.

Game theorists pretty much insist that without basic reform in our electoral processes, we're stuck with the kind of theatrical rivalry and gridlock we have. And the people who make our policy like things the way they are. In short, there aren't enough people who can ignore flashy, emotional, artificial partisan topics to do something about the overall health of our government.

For too many people voting will always be about immediate demands on topics like abortion, the environment, jobs and religion.
Apr 18, 2014
@whtllnew summarized why the joint probability of all these things occurring is negligibly small.
That's the probabilistic view.

The cynical humanistic view is that (at least presently) Snowden seems a bit too eager to signal his intelligence all the time ever to gain sufficient support among voters. Such a candidate is highly polarizing. Voters won't elect someone they consider a know-it-all to be President, and I expect - unless he gets a lot of polishing and coaching, or his campaign manages to censor him a lot - too many voters will regard him as a know-it-all for him ever to become electable.
Apr 18, 2014
Hey, it's not MY prediction, it's Scott's! And "current trends continue" is probably a better prediction than "current trends dramatically reverse themselves" isn't it?
Apr 18, 2014

[If current trends continue for a couple decades...]

Thats the big problem with your prediction.
+8 Rank Up Rank Down
Apr 18, 2014

OK, it's Friday....

I give Putin credit for being savvy enough to be able to pull off invading another country, more than once, and getting away with it. In this day and age, that's a pretty gifted leader. So I will also give Putin credit enough for being able to pull off returning Snowden as a sleeper agent and getting him elected President.

Snowden does strike a certain chord.

Putin has the luxury of long term planning, a weakness of the American political system. It could be one way for Putin to win the war against America without firing a shot.

Snowden would gain suspicion if he did not publicly defy Putin, to give him credibility and a reason to be kicked out of Russia. That could be why he was given permission to ask that question, and why it was not edited out of the interview. Do you really think any Russian citizen has the ability to ambush Putin? Would any leader allow himself to be asked live questions with unprepared answers if he could avoid it?

Also, the high quality of writing, could be explained if Putin's clandestine services wrote it.

The underlying point could be drawing similarities between the two leaders and showing that Putin is just like America and Obama, and not an ex-KGB, bare chested, bear wrestling, murderous thug.


Apr 18, 2014
There you go again, Scott...trying to inject rational discourse into Presidential politics, where it has no place whatsoever. :)

More seriously, there's a definite logic to your scenario...especially if viewed over the long term and through the lens of history post-Watergate. I'm skeptical that the existing power structures in politics (which have followed the Golden Rule for millenia: he who has the gold, makes the rules) would willingly allow a disruptor like Snowden into the power dynamic. Unless maybe to co-op him in the process.

Apr 18, 2014
An interesting prediction. I would say it's possible, but not at all likely. For those who are poo-pooing it, keep in mind I don't think Scott is talking about like 2016. But Snowden is pretty young. If current trends continue for a couple decades, and if he manages to stay in the news someone and keep his "celebrity status" I could see such an eventuality maybe playing out.
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