Robert Stein 1924-2014

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Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Pitchmen of Inside Politics

If pollsters and pundits had any sense of shame, they would slink off to do penance for their performance in the past week. But they won't.

The New Hampshire resurrection of Hillary Clinton surprised them as much as did the Iowa christening of Barack Obama and Mike Huckabee as front runners, but the talking heads and numbers crunchers will be back today to sell new versions of their faulty products with as much assurance as ever.

There will be reversible explanations: Hillary's tears that were a meltdown two days ago will morph into a moment of humanity that touched the hearts of voters. Obama's surging crowds will become hordes of undecideds trying to make up their minds at the last minute.

Nothing wipes the knowing smiles off the faces of the "insiders" who, in the words of Daniel Boorstin, are well-known for their well-knowness and spew Delphic certainties that are never later subjected to proof of accuracy.

Maybe the Consumer Product Safety Commission should set up a division to recall defective opinions and polls that are a danger to our mental health.


Ron Davison said...

The FDA posts warning on some foods. It would be fascinating to show, below each columnist or talking head, a record of their predictions. Call it truth in punditry.

Yellow Dog Don said...

It is always entertaining to watch the panelists begin interviewing each other, when they need to fill dead air.

However, it is usually not very enlightening.

Grace Nearing said...

Reality can be so uncooperative at times.

Yesterday, the cable airheads had the pre-election poll numbers crunched, their "off-the-cuff" analogies and insights carefully printed out, and even a few political eulogies ready in draft form.

Today, several guest panelists on the major shows flat out refused to make predictions.