The Washington Post is back with a repeat edition of their "America's Next Great Pundit" contest. Last year, they found an American Pundit that was so Great that he hasn't written any punditry since this past March. Dude just straight up solved everything in America in five months and was all, "Peace out, jerks!"
Still, you might want to test your mettle as a Great American Pundit against a staff of editors who frequently don't understand much about the topics they cover. Over at Gawker, Hamilton Nolan has the definitive guide for all would-be contestants who want to land some quasi-acclaim and semi-employment. You should heed Nolan's instructions carefully, especially this part, because it is the Da Vinci Code of all Beltway thought:
What's the conventional wisdom? What's the slightly lefthanded spin on the conventional wisdom? What's the slightly righthanded spin on the conventional wisdom? Can you find the space exactly between these two mild takes on the conventional wisdom? What is that space called? The conventional wisdom! Write that. Now you're the smartest man in Washington.
It's sound advice all around, go read the whole thing. For my part, I'd only add that to truly be a great Post pundit, you also need to set your mind to being aggressively unrestrained by facts.
You want to say that Elena Kagan never crosses her legs when she's seated, because you're working on some grand, "Elena Kagan is not ladylike" narrative? Don't let a ream of contradictory photographic evidence stop you. Sure, the Nobel Peace prize is never, ever, ever awarded posthumously, to anyone. Whatever! Just don't tell people that, and you can stake your entire premise on that falsity. Yes, scientists spend their lives performing "experiments" and reaching "conclusions," but if you just want to straight-up tell the world that some science dudes said something that they did not actually say, you can go ahead and do that! Fred Hiatt will back you up, because what is the "truth" if not one equally interesting side of a debate against "lies."
I'd be terribly remiss if I didn't let comedians Andy Cobb and Josh Funk sweeten the pot for you. Here's their video, from last year's contest:
Oh, and if all else fails, have you considered being the ex-spouse of someone to whom the Post desires access? It can't hurt!
How to Become the Next Great Pundit [Gawker]