The astounding spectacle of Karl Rove on Fox News disputing that network's call of Ohio for President Barack Obama put a cherry on top of a cornucopia of extraordinarily wrongheaded, bad faith predictions of a Gov. Mitt Romney victory by conservative pundits and prognosticators.
Rove led a parade of "experts" masquerading as fair-minded analysts whose real agenda was to line their own pockets by feeding the public's craving for information that confirms their biases.
Herewith, 10 of the worst offenders:
1. Dick Morris. You know that worn-out joke about how someone's face is next to, say, "ugly" in the dictionary? In the digital age, it's no joke. Google "worst political pundit" and the name Dick Morris comes up early and often, with links to example after example. This time Morris outdid himself, smugly promising that Romney would win an epic landslide, with a 10-point margin in the popular vote and victories in such Democratic strongholds as Pennsylvania and Minnesota.
2. Hugh Hewitt's blog preserves for posterity a chain of risible predictions from a Romney sycophant. Two examples: On Oct. 22 Hewitt wrote, "Romney won the debates decisively, which means he will win on November 6. Some things are simple, and this is one of them." Last weekend, he insulted both John Donne and Ernest Hemingway: "For whom does the bell toll when the deep blue states go purple? Minnesota."
3. Rush Limbaugh shared that his intellect indicated a blowout for Romney. Let's give Rush the benefit of the doubt and assume he meant to say "microscopic" before "intellect."
4. Michael Barone, a genuine expert on the intricacies and details of the American electorate, bought into the "polls are wrong" meme and forecast an electoral triumph for the Mittster.
5. Karl Rove, who stood to make a fortune, win or lose, from fat-cat super PAC contributors, deployed insider polling lingo to fashion a parallel universe in which polls that showed the president leading were absurd and that no sane person would pay attention to them. (Rove effectively took the insanity defense off the table.) Did you see the showdown between a pained Barone and Rove on Fox? It was among my favorite moments on Election Night, Rove insisting that Fox was wrong to call Ohio for Obama -- and Barone politely/emphatically insisting -- because he'd had enough of this shit -- that the numbers do not lie. Rove's Rohrshach-inkblot face could've read anything you wanted. I read "trapped."
6. Matt Drudge. At any given time, if 20 polls showed Obama leading and one didn't, you could count on Drudge to identify that one as being the state of the electorate. On election eve, when it was nearly impossible to find a non-partisan/pro-Romney survey, Drudge tweeted this: "Romney internal polls put him UP in OH, TIED in PA and WI." Even the Romney campaign, no stranger to lying, admitted that those internals were "incorrect."
7. Charles Krauthammer. If you joined Peggy Noonan and other myopic Romney backers whose gut told them Mitt would win, that was one thing. If you made the anti-factual case that all the polls were wrong, you were not necessarily inconsistent. But Krauthammer, a very smart man, knew better than to predict a Romney electoral landslide based on a late Romney surge -- the evidence for which, according to him, was that Mitt was tied or leading in all the national polls. In the real world, the president led in eight of the 12 national polls published the day before the election.
8. Joe Scarborough, a Republican partisan who sometimes takes the role of fair broker, said on Meet The Press last Sunday that the race was a tossup and that Pennsylvania was a tie. He well knew that there was exactly one poll out of dozens that showed a tie in PA -- and that Obama led comfortably in all the rest.
9. Ann Coulter insisted early on that, "If we don't nominate Chris Christie, Romney will be the nominee and we'll lose." Of course, she changed her tune the instant Mitt got the nomination. Last week, Coulter demonstrated the pretzel-logic necessary for the survival of the bad faith forecaster. After Christie gave Obama's cause a boost when he heaped praise on the president for his post-Sandy performance, Coulter said, "We'll find out tomorrow, when Romney wins, that he (Christie) didn't do any damage." She dismissed the cognitive dissonance of the preponderance of pro-Obama polls by asserting, without evidence, that they "over-predict victory for a black candidate." She promised to show up for the Fox News Romney "victory party" -- which was held on Liar's Street, just off Fantasy Avenue.
Don't hold your breath for sincere mea culpas from this bunch. Ratings determine who gets the most airtime -- and research actually shows that the worst pundits get the most airtime. And so our most popular predictors tend to be the worst. In other words, we get the pundits we deserve.
On election eve, the public figure who's had the most positive effect on my life and the lives of so many others predicted an Obama landslide. He may know nothing about the polls and little about the pols, but Bob Dylan relies on a different quality. It's called wisdom.