Oct
20
2008

Bill Kristol on Pundit Prognosticators

Bill Kristol writes in his column in the New York Times today that media elites

like telling us what's going to happen. They're always annoyed when people cross them. Pundits spent all spring telling Hillary Clinton to give up in her contest against Obama–and the public kept on ignoring them and keeping her hopes alive.

Why do elites like to proclaim premature closure–not just in elections, but also in wars and in social struggles? Because it makes them the imperial arbiters, or at least the perspicacious announcers, of what history is going to bring.

It's certainly true that pundits seem to enjoy prematurely declaring elections to be over–see Extra!, 9-10/03, 7-8/07–though pundits' calculations that Obama had an insurmountable lead in the primaries are not the ideal example, given that Obama did turn out to have an insurmountable lead.

There are better examples of pundits being chronically wrong prognosticators–like the one who declared, "Fred Thompson knows what he's doing, and he will be formidable"? Oh, wait–that was Bill Kristol.

And it was Bill Kristol again who wrongly predicted that Clinton would lose the New Hampshire primary to Obama–though, in fairness, a lot of other pundits made the same claim.

Media Matters has documented Kristol's wildly off-base predictions about the Iraq War:

–"There's been a certain amount of pop sociology in America … that the Shia can't get along with the Sunni and the Shia in Iraq just want to establish some kind of Islamic fundamentalist regime. There's almost no evidence of that at all. Iraq's always been very secular."–National Public Radio, 4/1/03

–"As in Kabul but also as in the Kurdish and Shi'ite regions of Iraq in 1991, American and alliance forces will be welcomed in Baghdad as liberators."–Senate Foreign Relations Committee testimony, 2/7/02

–"The battles of Afghanistan and Iraq have been won decisively and honorably."–Weekly Standard, 4/28/03

The real question is why the New York Times hired Kristol as a columnist in January '08 despite his record as a chronically bad prognosticator.