A political pundit is a thankless job – when you’re right it was obvious and when you’re wrong everyone points a fickle finger at you.
But unlike a weatherman, who studies meteorology, science and maybe broadcasting communications, political pundits take divergent paths to become gurus. Some wags are old pols; some are TV talking heads with varying degrees of “insider” knowledge. To the untrained eye, it appears the chief qualification is writing off candidates the way a carpenter turns a screw.
The pundits who wrote off the presidential campaigns of Senators McCain and Clinton before New Hampshire are having an especially bad day-after-the-primary.
“When the pundits declared us finished, I told them, ‘I’m going to New Hampshire, where the voters don’t let you make their decision for them,'” McCain told his supporters Tuesday.
Of course, political prognostications are even more haphazard than weather forecasts. Often, a pundit’s harshly premature judgment is built upon poll numbers that turn out to be wrong. Well, the pollsters weren’t wrong, really, they were just talking to the wrong voters. Then again, maybe the voters were to blame for changing their minds in the voting booths?
There’s plenty of blame to go around.
Still, for sheer chutzpah, it’s hard to top this one: A visit to the Drudge Report today spotlighted a survey that asks “Is Hillary Finished?” (Shortly after 2 p.m. ET, however, the survey itself seemed kaput.)
If the political pundits can’t shoot straight, possibly the pundits will devour their own.
“No matter what you think about Hillary Clinton, no matter how this campaign turns out, there is undeniable satisfaction in watching the pundit class being forced to eat the words of its premature obituaries,” wrote Marty Kaplan, a USC Professor turned blogger in the Huffington Post. Kaplan is a former speechwriter for Vice President Walter Mondale.
Is there such a thing as a neutral political pundit? No, and that’s what makes them entertaining – and wrong – as often as not. But being wrong about New Hampshire is yesterday’s news. There are always more elections to get it right – or wrong – again.
Rusty Weston, My Global Career • San Francisco, Ca • http://www.myglobalcareer.com/ •