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When did OTL leaders become 'plausible'?

AndrewH

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Americans, correct me if I'm wrong, but I get the feeling that Biden became a 'plausible' president very soon after Trump won simply because he didn't run in 2016 and so worked as a "he coulda won" figure. If he'd actually run for the candidacy, he'd be squeezed out by Clinton and Sanders and What If Biden Was President would be a tongue-in-cheek AH thing that isn't taken too seriously.




I do need to reread their PM Johnson stuff now we've actually got him.
I think if Biden ran in 2016 you basically get one of three options - he squeezes Hillary out of the race and Sanders registers as a footnote in American political history now that the bogeyman isn't the presumptive nominee, Hillary stays in and you get a drawn-out brawl between the two over what would basically amount to differences in personality and whether a woman should get the nomination, or (this is the least likeliest) Hillary drops out and the small-P progressives that backed her simply because it time a woman got the nomination back Sanders against Creepy Joe Biden, Sanders once again does well with young voters, and you get a 2016-esque primary result.

Biden's always been a plausible candidate, but there was a certain edge of "he's ran three times before 2020 and fucked up every single time, so he'll probably fuck up again" to people's predictions - I certainly remember saying multiple times that he would flame out before the primaries, and he won the nomination with incredible ease.
 

Gary Oswald

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A good benchmark, which I was temped to put in the OP, is the joke from Back to the Future ("Ronald Reagan, the actor?").
Nothing to do with the thread's question but someone did a thing on Ah.com about the rise of Jerry Lewis, the US representative for California, purely for him to become Reagan's Veep as a play on that gag from Back to the Future.
 

Visigoethe

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Hubert Humphrey was probably the most inevitable president in modern American politics. I’ve see so many articles between 1960 and 1976 that have a tone of “and well of course he will be the next one in the White House”. Part of the reason why in ‘72 and ‘76 mainstream Democratic officials and unions never went to bat for someone like Birch Bayh was because they felt that Humphrey’s time was to going to be at any minute and didn’t want to lose their leverage.
 

Time Enough

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The rise of Attlee to Prime Minister comes off a bit like this, I think in 1931 before the General Election if you said ‘Attlee would be the next Labour Prime Minister’ it would have been seen as unlikely. Hell him being Leader would have been seen as unlikely, folks probably would have thought someone like Arthur Greenwood or hell even Morrison as more likely.

Attlee’s raise to leader comes down mainly to Labour having such a drubbing in 1931 that his rise to Deputy Leader afterwards as one of the few remaining MPs who had Government experience became likely. This combined with Lansbury being a very old man helped.
 

napoleon IV

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Hubert Humphrey was probably the most inevitable president in modern American politics. I’ve see so many articles between 1960 and 1976 that have a tone of “and well of course he will be the next one in the White House”. Part of the reason why in ‘72 and ‘76 mainstream Democratic officials and unions never went to bat for someone like Birch Bayh was because they felt that Humphrey’s time was to going to be at any minute and didn’t want to lose their leverage.
Hubert Humphrey/Hillary Clinton

Slogan: Don't Try to Fight It, It's Inevitable
 

Time Enough

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Speaking of Labour Leaders/Prime Ministers, Ramsay MacDonald comes to mind. Like if you said in 1918 that in four years that in four years time Ramsay would be Leader of the Labour Party again and then a couple of years after Labour’s first Prime Minister folks would have been tremendously confused particularly after he lost his seat due to his Pacifism.

Hell Ramsay only won the 1922 Labour Leadership Election by a narrow margin so it wouldn’t be hard for someone in 1922 to say “The first Labour Prime Minister will be J.R.Clynes” over Ramsay (probably the better outcome actually given how Ramsay would turn out to be tremendously shit).
 

napoleon IV

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It's not a democracy, but when looking at the Soviet Union foreign observers in the last years of Stalin's life rated Georgy Malenkov as his inevitable successor. Even after Khrushchev became General Secretary there was a period where Malenkov (then Premier) was still seen as the actual leader, with Khrushchev being dismissed as a clumsy idiot.
 

Arthur_Phuxache

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But as Telegraph journalist, Editor of the Spectator, with longstanding political ambitions, networks, and resources; and with a track record of political expediency and flexibility (if not always judgement), I can see him rising up one way or another.
Any old (Etonian) tart can be editor of The Spectator without having 'future Tory PM' written all over them. No one expected Alexander Chancellor, Charles Moore, Dominic Lawson, or even Nigel Lawson to magic themselves into a safe Tory seat, and then No. 10.
 

Alex Richards

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It's not a democracy, but when looking at the Soviet Union foreign observers in the last years of Stalin's life rated Georgy Malenkov as his inevitable successor. Even after Khrushchev became General Secretary there was a period where Malenkov (then Premier) was still seen as the actual leader, with Khrushchev being dismissed as a clumsy idiot.
I was looking into this earlier, and I think Gorbachev becomes inevitable once Andropov becomes premier (Andropov was definitely grooming him as a successor, and they tried the 'how about someone else?' thing IOTL anyway).

Andropov however seems to have been viewed as less likely, though certainly a possibility, for quite a while before Brezhnev went.
 

Kato

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Any old (Etonian) tart can be editor of The Spectator without having 'future Tory PM' written all over them. No one expected Alexander Chancellor, Charles Moore, Dominic Lawson, or even Nigel Lawson to magic themselves into a safe Tory seat, and then No. 10.
My point was that he had a profile of sorts even before he first got invited on HIGNFY - indeed he was invited on as the token "uncomfortable journalist" who isn't expected to be funny, and from memory he doesn't really start to go full Boris character until his second panel appearance. The ambitions and the predispositions were all there, HIGNFY was just a massive signal booster rather than creating that chance from whole cloth.

Even in OTL, there were plenty of "Boris has probably missed his moment" takes between 2015-2019.
 
Honestly I think his media profile hurt his political career. I remember in 2004 or so when he was popular with mildly centre-left students and HIGNFY viewers but his political career was in turmoil and sinking fast. The more he's gotten away from that period, the more he became a serious contender. There was even a substantial levelling up on 'getting more serious' between his abortive leadership attempt and last year.

I think just after he was elected in Henley Portillo or someone told him to give up the editorship, cut the media stuff, and buckle down in the Commons and he absolutely refused to do that, and that's basically what he belatedly did after the mayoralty.
 
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Arthur_Phuxache

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My point was that he had a profile of sorts even before he first got invited on HIGNFY - indeed he was invited on as the token "uncomfortable journalist"
Private Eye already had a load of dirt on Boris (relating to Darius Guppy) even before his first 1998 appearance on HIGNFY. A journalist giving a schoolfriend a fellow hack's address so said schoolfriend can pop round and kick the shit out of him tends to be career-ending for normal people, but not for brave Sir Boris.
 

Heat

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The rise of the Kaczynski brothers in Poland really only became plausible in 2000 at the earliest, when Lech was named Justice Minister. Before that he had basically left public life and Jaroslaw had been reduced to a washed-up backbencher. Without that easily butterfliable decision, they would have faded into obscurity, and after it, everything sort of snowballed.
 

Beata Beatrix

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I was looking into this earlier, and I think Gorbachev becomes inevitable once Andropov becomes premier (Andropov was definitely grooming him as a successor, and they tried the 'how about someone else?' thing IOTL anyway).

Andropov however seems to have been viewed as less likely, though certainly a possibility, for quite a while before Brezhnev went.
Yes, this is all true - Grishin and Romanov’s campaigns were basically jokes from what I’ve read (and per the recollections of people there). I will say that while American Kremlinologists didn’t see Yuri Vladimirovich coming, it seems to me that, by 1982, it was basically a stitch-up: had Brezhnev died in the late ‘70s, things would likely be different.

Re: Malenkov, even he was kind of a longshot until the death of Andrei Zhdanov, who was the heir until he died of either drinking too much or of a slight Beria overdose.
 

Arthur_Phuxache

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Re: Malenkov, even he was kind of a longshot until the death of Andrei Zhdanov, who was the heir until he died of either drinking too much or of a slight Beria overdose.
Any candidate for succeeding Stalin only needed to fulfil one single criteria: Has Beria had you shot?

If yes, proceed to unmarked grave. If no, proceed to brown-nosing.
 

napoleon IV

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When Vladimir Putin became Prime Minister in 1999 few expected him to stay long. He was the fifth PM in 18 months and was generally seen as a rather colorless individual. The front-runner to succeed Yeltsin was former PM Yevgeny Primakov. Then the apartment bombings and the Second Chechen War happened. Putin demonstrated that he was a capable leader, and his popularity rose until he was the favorite to succeed Yeltsin.
 
When Vladimir Putin became Prime Minister in 1999 few expected him to stay long. He was the fifth PM in 18 months and was generally seen as a rather colorless individual. The front-runner to succeed Yeltsin was former PM Yevgeny Primakov. Then the apartment bombings and the Second Chechen War happened. Putin demonstrated that he was a capable leader, and his popularity rose until he was the favorite to succeed Yeltsin.
Putin is a classic case of rising without trace. Went from nobody to President in an amazingly short time.
 
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