November 08, 2012
Ignorant, lazy, narcissistic, sheltered, and unaccountable.
teenagers? No, America’s
Election 2012 offered superfluous evidence that the men and
women who provide commentary and “analysis” to media outlets are solipsistically
shallow. Every liberal predicted an Obama victory. Nearly every right-winger
saw a Romney win -- possibly by big numbers.
To anyone who
followed opinion surveys -- particularly the aggregations of Real Clear Politics and
statistician Nate Silver’s invaluable
blog -- it was obvious that Romney hadn’t a prayer. The GOP nominee gained desperately
needed ground after the Denver
debate, but in the final weeks, swing states weren’t trending the
ex-governor’s way. An Electoral College win for the incumbent was all but a
Those who refused to accept the polling figures, Silver
admonished, “should abandon the pretense that [their] goal is to inform rather
than entertain the public.”
Ouch. And true. But not for Larry
Kudlow, Glenn Beck, Peggy Noonan, Ari Fleischer, Charles Krauthammer, and the
rest of the Republican cheering squad. Ensnared in groupthink, conservative
media personalities went with their faith -- not informed estimation, but faith -- that Americans wouldn’t endorse
another four years of Obama’s “socialism.”
The most distressing off-the-mark prognostication emanated from
an “expert” who ideologues of all stripes regard as sober and insightful: Michael Barone.
For decades, the FDR-admiring
of American Politics has been the “nation’s most authoritative source
of information about members of Congress, their districts, the governors and
prediction had Romney securing 315 Electoral College votes. The yet-to-settled,
but likeliest outcome, is 332 votes for the president. Memo to Mike: If you
want to remain a respected political guru, spend less time in front of Fox News
Channel cameras, and more time poring over cultural, demographic, and economic
Bubble-dwelling conservatives are a pathetic lot, but liberals’ appraisals
are marked by partiality, wishful thinking, and fabulism, too. And like their
ideological frenemies, the
left’s whoppers can bungle policy as much as politics.
Exhibit A: Bill Maher. In the 1990s, today’s moonbat darling was
a bottom-feeding standup.
-- probably the most misnamed program in the history of American television -- gave
him a platform to bash conservatives and frequently disseminate inaccurate
factoids. In 1997, ranting that media bias was a myth, Maher claimed, “Rupert
Murdoch … owns pretty much every newspaper in the country.” At the time, the Australian-born
mogul owned one U.S. newspaper, the New York Post.
Maher’s reign of error marches on in the new century. In 2010,
appearing as a guest on This Week,
he claimed that Brazil
off oil in the last 30 years.” (The country is the
planet’s seventh-largest consumer of petroleum.) Last month, on his HBO
show Real Time, Maher averred that “something
like 42 percent of our total budget” is spent on defense. (Actual share: 18
They’ll continue to ink book deals and land lucrative speaking
engagements, but only fools find Ann Coulter, Dick Morris, Karl Rove, Sean
Hannity, and Donald
Trump to be credible. Keeping it fair, Paul Krugman, Alec Baldwin, Chris
Matthews, Janeane Garofalo, and James Carville also have zilch to offer
Fortunately, myriad resources exist for seekers of political and
public-policy truths. Many think tanks eschew the right-left duopoly’s
superficiality and blatant conflicts of interest. (The Cato Institute and Reason Foundation deserve mention.) The
federal government -- e.g., the Census
Bureau, Energy Information Administration,
and Bureau of Labor Statistics -- puts data
online in easily accessible formats. For the Supreme Court, Congress, and the
White House, go with the venerable C-SPAN.
In 1985, Firing Line debated the
Defense Initiative. Panelists included retired general Daniel O. Graham,
nuclear engineer Albert
Carnesale, and physicist George Keyworth. An
exchange between William
F. Buckley and Democratic Party hack Robert Shrum presaged today’s
Shrum: I’m telling you we shouldn’t waste money on Star Wars. I
can define a reasonable level of expenditure --
Buckley: How? How?
Shrum: -- and to spend beyond that --
Buckley: How? How?
Shrum: Because I think we can reasonably --
Buckley: Now, Mr. Shrum. Don’t try to fool anybody. You don’t
know the slightest thing about --
Shrum: How did you define your reasonable level?
Buckley: -- what expenses are required to research this program.
[pointing to Graham] He does.
Shrum: Do you? Do you?
Shrum: I know you don’t, but they do. [laughter, applause]
Buckley: But --
Shrum: Which leads, Mr. Buckley, to the question: What are you
and I doing up here talking about this?
D. Dowd Muska (www.dowdmuska.com) writes about government, economics, and technology. Follow him on Twitter @dowdmuska.
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