Vermin Supreme, Fool King of the Occupiers

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Jan. 10 2012 9:37 AM

Vermin Supreme, Fool King of the Occupiers

MANCHESTER, N.H. -- I took too long to get to Rick Santorum's final pre-primary rally, a fun-looking shindig at a sports bar called Jillian's. By the time my car pulled up, Occupy protesters had spooked security guards into closing the doors. Around three dozen protesters had shown up with identical songs, first shouting at the doors -- "Bigot! Bigot! Bigot!" -- then placing their signs on the windows.

photo (57)

Around the corner, I spotted a familiar sight: Vermin Supreme, the anarchist/performance artist/perennial candidate who shows up to every locus of media shouting through a bullhorn and wearing a boot for a hat. For the last time this year, I saw Supreme pull his classic stunt, walking up to a window, placing the bullhorn on it, and yelling things to irritate the people inside.

New Hampshire has extremely lax ballot standards, and all manner of harmless kooks can turn themselves into "presidential candidates." Supreme's schtick, mocking the presidential campaign process with dada stunts and "debate" challenges, isn't new. What was new: The burgeoning Occupy movement sort of adopted him into the fold. After Supreme finished yelling at Santorum, an Occupier next to me thanked him. "I want to be you when I grow up!" he said. The day before, Supreme had joined the Occupy protest outside of Newt Gingrich's astrategic Mexican restaurant stop, amplifying the protests outside, drawing more cheers.

This state's primary has a shrinking effect on political coverage. In five days (as in 2008) or seven days (this year), with more than a thousand reporters parachuting into Manchester, the space for deep policy analysis disappears. Everyone, temporarily, is a sideline reporter, asking how a candidate feels or if he needs to place third or second or if he has a response to the SLAM or ATTACK issued by someone else. There's been a similar shrinking effect on the Occupy movement, which has spent the week interrupting speeches and getting hauled out of them, or banging on drums outside of events. So for one brilliant week, Vermin Supreme had found his place.

 

David Weigel is a reporter for Bloomberg Politics

TODAY IN SLATE

History

Slate Plus Early Read: The Self-Made Man

The story of America’s most pliable, pernicious, irrepressible myth.

Rehtaeh Parsons Was the Most Famous Victim in Canada. Now, Journalists Can’t Even Say Her Name.

Mitt Romney May Be Weighing a 2016 Run. That Would Be a Big Mistake.

Amazing Photos From Hong Kong’s Umbrella Revolution

Transparent Is the Fall’s Only Great New Show

The XX Factor

Rehtaeh Parsons Was the Most Famous Victim in Canada

Now, journalists can't even say her name.

Doublex

Lena Dunham, the Book

More shtick than honesty in Not That Kind of Girl.

What a Juicy New Book About Diane Sawyer and Katie Couric Fails to Tell Us About the TV News Business

Does Your Child Have Sluggish Cognitive Tempo? Or Is That Just a Disorder Made Up to Scare You?

  News & Politics
Foreigners
Sept. 29 2014 10:00 PM “Everything Must Change in Italy” An interview with Italian Prime Minster Matteo Renzi.
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 29 2014 7:01 PM We May Never Know If Larry Ellison Flew a Fighter Jet Under the Golden Gate Bridge
  Life
Dear Prudence
Sept. 30 2014 6:00 AM Drive-By Bounty Prudie advises a woman whose boyfriend demands she flash truckers on the highway.
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 29 2014 1:52 PM Do Not Fear California’s New Affirmative Consent Law
  Slate Plus
Slate Fare
Sept. 29 2014 8:45 AM Slate Isn’t Too Liberal, but … What readers said about the magazine’s bias and balance.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 29 2014 9:06 PM Paul Thomas Anderson’s Inherent Vice Looks Like a Comic Masterpiece
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 29 2014 11:56 PM Innovation Starvation, the Next Generation Humankind has lots of great ideas for the future. We need people to carry them out.
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 29 2014 12:01 PM This Is Your MOM’s Mars
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 28 2014 8:30 PM NFL Players Die Young. Or Maybe They Live Long Lives. Why it’s so hard to pin down the effects of football on players’ lives.