WASHINGTON -- Politico has figured it all out. There is an election happening, and it could result in one guy being elected president, unless it doesn't, in which case it won't. And you need to take the media off the hook for knowing who is going to win, one way or the other, because while they all like to front as if so many things in politics are dead-certain (Politico chews up Internet bandwidth like a pack of pissed-off beavers on meth chew up cherry trees to offer grave verdicts on whose "messaging" is "winning") they are just at a complete loss to tell you who is going to win -- not that you ever asked them to provide that service:
Gov. Mitt Romney’s campaign says it still has momentum. President Barack Obama’s campaign says that’s all spin.
Meanwhile, there isn’t a single well-informed pundit between them who can tell you who’s right.
Clearly, the full stop in the second sentence there should have come after the word "pundit," but that would have probably brought this lengthy musing on the certainty of uncertainty and mankind's helplessness in the face of it to an abrupt end. Instead, we learn the following things:
--"There are so many variables." There was like, a hurricane, and stuff? And it raised so many concerns, mostly having to do with the lives and well-being of so many of our fellow citizens and the ongoing matter as to whether we can preserve our great cities from the harm of increasingly devastating storms, but also there were at least five questions it raised about the Obama-Romney horse race that no one was asking and yet Politico tried to answer. Also: what good are polls, if they are merely well-gardened statistical models, and not feats of magical pre-cognition?
-- "Pundits and reporters are naturally wary of picking a winner in a tight election, because getting it wrong is a nightmare scenario." Says who? Quick, somebody get me the official list of pundits and reporters who have paid a price for getting an election prediction wrong? (You'll probably find it in the same place as the list of pundits and reporters who paid a dear price for cheerleading our way into the pointless Iraq War.) Dick Morris has a piece up at The Hill today predicting a Romney landslide -- he suggests Obama will lose Oregon! -- and I'm pretty comfortable predicting that when this does not come to pass, Morris will continue to have columns in The Hill. But I am prepared to face the "nightmare scenario" of "nothing whatsoever happening to me" if it turns out I'm wrong and Morris is, I don't know, pushed out to sea on an ice floe, or something.
-- "The campaigns’ respective strategies don’t provide much clarity, either." Yeah, that's because ..."campaign strategies" don't reveal winners of elections. Why did you expect them to?
-- "In addition to tight poll numbers, pundits know that the trajectory of the campaign can turn on a dime." Actually, if you were to add it all up, pundits are way too promiscuous in their assessments of what can alter the race, and they make too many confident assessments. No matter what is happening, they see these game-changing dimes everywhere they look. Here is a short list of things that lots of people said ended the election this year: Bill Clinton's speech at the Democratic convention, Mitt Romney's "47%" remarks, Obama's "you didn't build that" remark, Romney's decision to politicize the Benghazi attacks, the Benghazi attacks themselves, Romney picking Paul Ryan as veep running mate, Barack Obama not picking Hillary as his veep running mate. Andrew Sullivan has written that the election was over, in two different ways, in two different columns.
So, media, you say that you have no idea what's going on in the election? No worries, bro! We've already figured that out by reading all of your silly election year pronouncements.
Maybe this article is just another piece of Politico's "Let's troll the bejeezus out of Nate Silver" strategy, which Silver has totally brought upon himself -- uhm ... for what sin, exactly? Continually suggesting that Mitt Romney has a really decent chance to win the election? By all means, burn the witch. But what's rivetingly stupid about this is that close elections are precisely what the political media covet. So I'm at a loss as to why so many people are all sad and complainy and worried about the non-existent costs they may endure as pundits and reporters if the uncertainty they were so desirous of makes it so hard for them to be certain.
The good news here is that the headline Politico gives to this story -- "Media stumped by 2012 outcome" -- is one they can re-use the day after Election Day. Meanwhile, you should file this under: "I can't even, with this s--t."
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