August 28, 2008

When "leading" means proving that you don't know what you're talking about

I've been a bit giddy this week because I was asked to join a lineup of "leading" bloggers to opine on the political conventions this week and next.

Really when I look at a lineup that includes bloggers representing Instapundit, the Volokh Conspiracy, Betsy's Page, Powerline, Poligazette, Atlas Shrugs, Debbie Schlussel, Confederate Yankee, Lucianne, Newsbusters, Right Wing News, Outside the Beltway, Wake Up America and more alongside my name, well I'm at once flattered and bewildered. Flattered because here I am with all these bloggers who set the agenda in the blogosphere; and bewildered because my influence is nowhere near theirs.

So for two weeks readers get to see how well I do this political punditry thing. Previously I've blogged these polls here, here and here.

Actually, it looks like I got one poll more or less correct. We were asked which Clinton would make the better case for Sen. Obama. I answered Bill. While the pundits were praising the ex-President's speech at the convention, Charles Krauthammer observed:

During her convention speech, you kept waiting for her to offer just one line of testimony: I have come to know this man, to admire this man, to see his character, his courage, his wisdom, his judgment. Whatever. Anything.

Instead, nothing. She of course endorsed him. But the endorsement was entirely programmatic: We're all Democrats. He's a Democrat. He believes what you believe. So we must elect him -- I am currently unavailable -- to get Democratic things done. God bless America.

Clinton's withholding the "I've come to know this man" was vindictive and supremely self-serving -- but jarring, too, because you realize that if she didn't do it, no one else would.

But then there was a question about what Joe Biden should focus his acceptance speech on. A plurality of the right of center (roc) and left of center bloggers (loc) taken together recommended that Sen. Biden try to tie Sen. McCain to President Bush. And that's exactly what he did!

However I (along with most of the roc bloggers) argued that he should focus on boosting Sen. Obama's security credentials. Specifically I wrote:

With the crisis in Georgia and the growing threat from Iran the 3 AM phone is ringing. The Democratic ticket has to make an effective case that it is the right one to answer the phone.

Jim Geraghty has collected a number of quotes from Biden showing his respect for McCain. It would be bad form for him to become the anti-McCain attack dog. Of course, John Kerry's been doing that ignoring that McCain stood up for him years ago. So it's not impossible that Biden will forget his past with McCain.

Well at least I had a nice bit of company among the roc bloggers, most of whom agreed that Biden's role should have been to boost Sen. Obama's national security credentials.

Next there was the bounce question. How much of a bounce did I expect Sen. Obama to get? I chose 1 - 3 points and explained:

My guess is that with the declining interest in the televised proceedings, bounces generally will be less significant than in the past.

Now we don't have the post convention numbers yet, but a Gallup poll of the first three days of the convention, shows Sen. Obama with a 6 point lead over Sen. McCain. Presumably the final results will be at that level or higher. So my choice was on the low side. By far, most roc bloggers had the bounce in the 1 - 6 point range and most of the loc bloggers had the bounce in the 4 - 9 point range. So it appears that the loc bloggers, as a whole, got this one more correct.

Finally we have what we hoped would be the focus of Sen. Obama's acceptance speech. Figuring that he has to try to convince people like me and that an acceptance speech by itself wasn't to convince me, I figured that he'd try to make the sale with the Clinton camp.

I'd love for him to convince me of his readiness to be President, but I don't believe that will happen. So I'll go with what is possible.

Whoo. That was arrogant. His speech more than anything showed that he had a grasp of America's economic problems. (Not that I agree with what he said, but I imagine that what he said resonated with a lot of people. He doesn't have to convince me, he has to convince them and his speech was designed to do just that.)

So I see that part of being a pundit is to take my views and to project them onto my answers, to do it confidently and accuracy be damned. That's why I'm a humble blogger and Karl Rove writes for the opinion pages of the Wall Street Journal and is a favorite guest on talk shows.

I don't know if pundits are governed by the same rules as magicians, where we could lose our jobs, or worse, for revealing the secrets of the trade. Still it's been fun, if humbling. And look out for me to continue bloviating next week.

And thanks to the National Journal for giving me this chance.

Posted by SoccerDad at August 28, 2008 8:35 PM
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Posted by: psychotoddler at August 29, 2008 8:01 AM

You've been setting the agenda for years. If only other bloggers had this sort of humility the web would be a better place though :)


Posted by: saus at August 29, 2008 11:59 AM

"You've been setting the agenda for years. If only other bloggers had this sort of humility the web would be a better place though :)"
I absolutely agree. It's refreshing to read a blogger not full of him or herself.

Posted by: Laura at August 29, 2008 12:19 PM
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