Are Political Pundits Smart Enough to Advise the Nation?

Pundit is defined as ‘someone who has been admitted to membership in a scholarly field, an initiate, a learned person, savant.’
In politics? Are you kidding?

Joescarborough
According to Peter Baker’s recent WaPo article-Pundits Renounce the President;

For 10 minutes, the talk show host (Joe Scarborough) grilled his guests about whether “George Bush’s mental weakness is damaging America’s credibility at home and abroad.” For 10 minutes, the caption across the bottom of the television screen read, “IS BUSH AN ‘IDIOT’?”

This from a conservative ‘political pundit,’ which seems to me an oxymoron. Pundit is defined as ‘someone who has been admitted to membership in a scholarly field, an initiate, a learned person, savant.’
In politics? Are you kidding? No Maureen Dowds or William Kristols to
be found in that descriptive phrase, for sure. Even less, if the hue
and cry is to be believed, are to be found out there in the blogosphere.
Which, of course, includes me.
Richlowry
Further along in the article, Baker quotes Rich Lowry, editor of The National Review;

“Conservatives
for a long time were in protective mode, wanting to emphasize the
progress in Iraq to contrast what they felt was an unfair attack on the
war by the Democrats and media and other sources. But there’s more of a
sense now that things are on a downward trajectory, and more of a
willingness to acknowledge it and pressure the administration to react
to it.”

I’m very uncomfortable with Rich’s ‘more of a willingness,’
when what we’re talking about is not an academic paper, but the
destruction of a large part of the Middle East and America’s
international reputation as well. Pundits owe more to readers (and
listeners) than ‘contrast’ against the other side of wrongheaded policy. It was
and remains wrongheaded and it’s not as if there were no voices
pointing out the wrongheadedness. Rich Lowry, who looks about fourteen
and acts like a seventeen year old, talks about major international
screwups as if they were a critique of last week’s Yale-Harvard game.

Lowry’s magazine offers a powerful example. “It is time to say it unequivocally: We are winning in Iraq,” Lowry wrote in April 2005, chastising those who disagreed. This month, he published an editorial that concluded that “success
in Iraq seems more out of reach than it has at any time since the
initial invasion three years ago” and assailed “the administration’s
on-again-off-again approach to Iraq.”

Which only goes to prove that kids shouldn’t be allowed to play with matches or national political magazines.

“It
is time for the Bush administration to acknowledge that its approach of
assuring people that progress is being made and operating on that
optimistic basis in Iraq isn’t working,”
the editorial said. Lowry followed up days later in his own column, suggesting that the United States is “losing, or at least not obviously winning, a major war” and asking whether Iraq is “Bush’s Vietnam.”

If
it is, it is Lowry’s Vietnam as well. He might look himself squarely in
the mirror and acknowledge that his cheerleading and the Bush
administration’s ‘assuring people that progress is being’ are
identical missteps. Lowry, a 1990 graduate of the University of
Virginia is supposedly one of the youngest and most influential
conservative commentators and analysts in the country. Which I suppose
qualifies him, under Bill Buckley’s overlarge umbrella, as a pundit, if
a not very bright prognosticator.
Bushbuckley Lowry has edited William F. Buckley’s National Review
since 1997. Bill must be too chagrined at where neo-conservatism has
taken the country to come around to the further step of lifting this
kid’s pundit-license. National Review suffers as a result and one can only surmise that the magazine has no viable future beyond it’s founder’s retirement.
Scarborough again;

… who questioned the
president’s intelligence on his show, “Scarborough Country.” He showed
a montage of clips of Bush’s famously inarticulate verbal miscues and
then explored with guests John Fund and Lawrence O’Donnell Jr. whether
Bush is smart enough to be president.

Williamkristol
More properly, the question is whether the punditry of the likes of Joe
Scarborough, William Kristol, Rich Lowry is intelligent enough and
intellectually curious enough to lead debate in any meaningful way.
What purpose do the Ann Coulters and Rush Limbaughs of the so-called
conservative media serve?
George Bush is far more honest. He came to us as an intellectually
incurious candidate, who had a great smile and a frat-house sense of
humor, but who had never crafted a success of his own. He’s doggedly Anncoulter
done the wrong thing, supported the wrong priorities and elevated the
wrong people to positions of power. But the writing was always on the
wall. Is he too dumb, partisan and unreflective to lead the country?
Probably, but that has never been a deterrent to election in this
country.
Rushlimbaugh
Are the pundits too dumb, partisan and unreflective to lead public
opinion? Without doubt. The difference is that they are supposed to
offer up more than invective. Punditry requires a supportable position,
well argued, no matter the philosophy.
The citizenry has been played for fools and it’s taken five years
for that to sink in. Now the political and media elite will pay a
price. Both are running for cover and neither are likely to find it.
But they’re pointing at each other, as if the fault were to be found
outside their own particular responsibilities.
When you hear the word ‘pundit,’ it’s time to hide the silverware.
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Some other people’s thoughts on punditry;

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