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The Pleasure of "I Told You So"

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"Told ya so."

That's how ABC News polling director Gary Langer begins a blog post explaining that polls from ABC News predicted today's report of a 2.2 percent decline in holiday sales by the International Council of Shopping Centers. He points to results reported in November signaling "a Dismal Retail Season" and showed 51% saying "they'll spend less this year than last on holiday gifts, matching the sharpest consumer retreat in polls dating back 23 years." The results from their December survey were worse. He concludes with this appropriate point:

As with politics, there's been far greater detail in our economic polls, especially in our mid-December survey's extensive look at the roots and directions of the public's economic anxiety. But as good data help us understand the contours of public opinion, so they anticipate the results of those attitudes. It's why the vast bulk of survey research isn't carried out by news organizations seeking to report public views, but by corporations seeking to understand how such attitudes will impact their bottom line.

But I link mostly because of the "Told Ya" headline. Langer does concede that the phrase is not "terribly polite," but his use of it gives me the chance to blog this unforgettable Barney Frank quote from Jeffrey Toobin's profile in this week's New Yorker:

"There are three lies politicians tell," [Frank] told the real-estate group. "The first is 'We ran against each other but are still good friends.' That's never true. The second is 'I like campaigning.' Anyone who tells you they like campaigning is either a liar or a sociopath. Then, there's 'I hate to say I told you so.' " He went on, "Everybody likes to say 'I told you so.' I have found personally that it is one of the few pleasures that improves with age. I can say 'I told you so' without taking a pill before, during, or after I do it."