Mayday Sends Out an S.O.S.

The other day in “Less, Lesser, Lessig” we outlined the embarrassment that is Harvard’s Larry Lessig and his super-ironic strategy of having a super-PAC to end all super-PACs. We noted that this media/academic diva was suddenly clamming up on his Mayday PAC election faceplant.

Now he’s out with a defense of his strategy, as reported on, which notes:

Not surprisingly, the Harvard Law professor got a tad upset earlier in the week after Politico wrote a story about his PAC’s election results entitled “How to Waste $10 Million.”

A tad upset? I’ll bet he is—probably three or four tads upset is my guess. His tadness of upset might have even gone to 11. Lessig is not used to being anything but a media darling. To continue:

Moving forward, the real question is whether some of Mayday’s wealthy finance and Silicon Valley supporters will be willing to chip in millions more given Mayday’s losing record. . . the bulk of its funding came from a smaller, wealthier group of backers, including investor Sean Parker, former Stride Rite president Arnold Hiatt and LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman.

I’m guessing the answer is likely to be No.

The best part of Lessig’s memo explaining that “No—really, we succeeded; our appeal is just getting more selective” is the last paragraph. Just feel the smug:

Sixth, and finally, bandwidth is limited: However difficult it was to persuade voters, it was just as difficult to get the media to understand the strategy of our campaign. The simple binary framing of electoral politics makes is hard to demonstrate the effect of interventions within the margin. In 2012, for example, Karl Rove had a powerful impact on American politics, even if he won no elections, because his interventions restricted the options of candidates on the other side. Yet this truth is hard to convey in a framework were the only measure of success is whether a candidate has won or lost.”

Lessig 2 copyThat may be the single funniest paragraph written about the 2014 election.  A tragedy it is to live in such a bandwidth-impaired world, with binary frames keeping us from getting to 2.  As Lincoln no doubt said to Douglass, “it’s awful that we’re stuck in this binary frame.”  P.J. O’Rourke can’t compete with that. Higher order gobbledygook like this deserves tenure. I doubt Silicon Valley financiers, who know not to throw bad VC money after good, will be taken in.  Mayday indeed.  Maybe the next PAC will be S.O.S. (For “Save Our Sanity.”)

Reminder: You can still enjoy Lessig’s bio. Get it now before the autobiography crowds it out.