THE BLOG

Ban the Pundits

05/29/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Washington pundits are being denounced for having an undue influence on the Democratic Presidential primary. They are being cited for premature ejaculations of support for one candidate or another, ignoring the first law of political science, as enunciated by Yogi Berra, that it ain't over until it's over.

NBC, especially, has come in for heavy criticism, with its cable annex, that leaning tower of objectivity, MSNBC. Chris Matthews, Keith Olbermann, Pat Buchanan, Joe Scarborough and even the oracle of oracles, Tim Russert, somehow don't seem to meet the standards of disinterested objectivity anti-pundit forces require.

New Jersey pundits are pretty bad, too. I know what the enemies of punditry mean, reflecting on my own track record during this exciting race.

A pundit, Murray Kempton once observed, is somebody who can be wrong ten minutes ahead of everybody else.

Being an entry-level pundit, I'm not as good as the others. It takes me 15 minutes.

Without meaning to blow my own horn here, I was the first to predict that the winner of the Democratic race would be a senator. Furthermore, I went out on the limb and made the same prediction about the next president.

Paul Begala is my favorite in the punditocracy, the legions of wandering minstrel men who do their song and dance acts on the cable news networks, casting their pearls of wisdom before the swine, I mean, the TV viewers. He claimed on CNN the night of the Pennsylvania primary that he had "a Ph. D. in the obvious." Time and time again during his stints on CNN he has proven his credential along those lines.

My thing was to go where no pundit went before. I was especially proud of my early prediction (Feb.28) that Hillary would win the nomination in the end.

No matter how bad things looked. No matter how many primaries she lost. No matter how many caucuses she ignored. No matter how many staff she fired for making wrong decisions like that. No matter how many times she changed her stump speeches. No matter how many times her brain trust moved the goal posts and changed the rules. No matter how they counted the popular votes and delegates. No matter how little money she raised and how much of her own money she spent compared to the other guy, I seemed to think it was unimaginable that Hillary would not win in the end.

I couldn't believe a rookie with one-year experience in the Senate when the campaign began, an African-American with a name like Barack Osama Obama could beat the Clinton dynasty.

Did anybody really expect the Clinton war machine to let victory slip through their hands just because a few hundred superdelegates appeared to be having trouble making up their minds?

My thinking was based on a theory about what the Clintonistas were doing in the War Room, as the Clinton inner family circle is known.

Hillary's people in the War Room had been holding maneuvers for this current conflict since 1992. The same people who destroyed Paula Jones and Gennifer Flowers in the Great Clinton Media War of 1992 would be able to destroy a few superdelegates today, my theory went.

The War Room muscle-man-in-chief, of course, is Harold Ickes, veteran of the1992-6 Clintonian Era, and current assistant to the campaign manager. Harold the Enforcer and his minions are the vacuum cleaners who collect the dirt on everybody in the game.

While some pundits still may think superdelegates are starry-eyed idealists who follow the dictates of their constituents or their own conscience, every superdelegate is basically a party hack, if not a fool. They will hear a knock on the door one day, my theory went, "Mr. Ickes is here to see you."

"We've got one of three choices for you," the delegate will hear the visitor outline a proposal, as Ickes will slide the manila file across the desk. "We can kill you. Or we can release all the stuff in your file -- the 8x 10 glossies with the strippers and hookers, the usual -- to the press. Or we can give you $3,000. What sounds better?"

The reason Hillary would win the nomination, I predicted, is because somebody dropped a file on somebody's desk.

I still may turn out to be right. All the superdelegates will be meeting on May 31 to officially make their choices.

I didn't make any of this up. I had it from a usually reliably informed source. This inside information may explain why Hillary and her camp refuse to concede, despite the math. They also may be counting on the secret cards, the smoking guns, still in their sweaty hands.

If I am proven wrong, my usually reliably informed source will be demoted to an unreliably informed source -- or even a rank below, an unreliably uninformed source -- for making me sound like a blithering idiot.

Pundits are under a cloud today. One way to deal with the problem is a pundit control mechanism. If there is such a thing as poetic license, why shouldn't pundits be licensed? You need a license before you can drive a car legally. The information highway is equally fraught with dangers.

Standards can also be improved by statistical analysis. Batting averages are useful in judging which baseball players to respect. Wouldn't it be good to know that in the 2008 campaign season Karl Rove batted .267 vs. George Stephanopoulos' .301 and William Kristol's .196

True, this might have a chilling effect, but isn't that what the anti-punditocrats want? Along these lines, I also would establish the Emily Litella Prize to honor achievements in maintaining the highest principle of punditocracy: often wrong, never in doubt.

Nominations are now open. Remember: in the land of the blind the one-eyed man is a pundit.