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Pitiful punditry

Bill Kristol, April 28, 2003, writing at his Weekly Standard:

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“The United States committed itself to defeating terror around the world. We committed ourselves to reshaping the Middle East, so the region would no longer be a hotbed of terrorism, extremism, anti-Americanism, and weapons of mass destruction. The first two battles of this new era are now over. The battles of Afghanistan and Iraq have been won decisively and honorably.”

Kristol, Dec. 17, 2006, on “Fox News Sunday”:

“If [Hillary Clinton] gets a race against John Edwards and Barack Obama, she’s going to be the nominee. Gore is the only threat to her ... Barack Obama is not going to beat Hillary Clinton in a single Democratic primary. I’ll predict that right now.”

Rather than be chased out of town for his laughably bad electoral predictions and tragically faulty foreign policy analysis, Kristol was rewarded — first with a New York Times column, and now with a Washington Post slot.

The 2006 Democratic Senate primary in Connecticut between Sen. Joe Lieberman and Ned Lamont provided spectacular examples of wrongheaded punditry:

Jacob Weisberg, Aug. 9, 2006, on Slate:

“The [Lamont victory] suggests that instead of capitalizing on the massive failures of the Bush administration, Democrats are poised to re-enact a version of the Vietnam-era drama that helped them lose five out six presidential elections between 1968 and the end of the Cold War.”

And this guy runs Slate.

Cokie Roberts, Aug. 6, 2006, on ABC’s “This Week”:

“[Lamont defeating Lieberman is] a disaster for the Democratic Party […] pushing the party to the left […] the position from which it traditionally loses.”

Lamont’s primary victory did push the Democratic Party to the left. Democrats subsequently won the first of two consecutive landslide elections. But hey, ABC needs to keep Cokie around for astute observations like these:

Cokie Roberts, Aug. 10, 2008, on “This Week”:

“[Obama] going off this week to a vacation in Hawaii does not make any sense whatsoever. I know his grandmother lives in Hawaii and I know Hawaii is a state, but it has the look of him going off to some sort of foreign, exotic place.”

Of course, Americans didn’t think that Hawaii was all that exotic. And they thought Obama visiting his ailing grandmother actually made plenty of sense. But for the great unaccountable pundit, it’s all in a day’s work.

Dick Morris, 2008 electoral prediction at Human Events:

“We still see normally Republican states such as Louisiana, Arizona, Tennessee, West Virginia, and North Carolina as tossups; and some Republican states such as Virginia, Missouri, Arkansas, and Colorado as leaning to Obama.”

McCain won Louisiana by 19 points, Arizona by eight, Tennessee by 15, West Virginia by 13 and the supposed “lean-Obama” state of Arkansas by 20 points. Yet Morris remains a staple on Fox News and in this very newspaper.

Indeed, it’s this very inability by the modern American pundit to get things right that has fueled the rise of alternative online media. How can people take the hotshot pundits seriously when they write stuff like this?

David Broder, Feb. 16, 2007, in his syndicated column:

“It may seem perverse to suggest that […] President Bush is poised for a political comeback. But don’t be astonished if that is the case.”

Perverse, yes, and wrong, wrong, wrong.

Moulitsas is founder and publisher of Daily Kos
(www.dailykos.com).