It's been nearly two years since the Presidential campaign for 2008 was launched. I recall watching the election night coverage of the 2006 mid-term elections, only to hear a particular talking head proclaim that beyond that evening’s results, the real importance of that night was that it ushered in the search for the next President. It was probably Chris Matthews who said it. The comment seemed ridiculous at the time given the Congressional wave of that election, but he was right. 2006 was Act I of the play. November 4th was Act II. Here’s hoping that Act III will bear the fruits of the labor.
The fact that a pundit was right shouldn’t catch us by surprise. In fact, I would argue that they are always right. They speak in such a self-assured manner. They have experience. They’ve walked the halls of various governmental institutions for decades. They have all of the key players in their Address Books. They know of what they speak. And those that doubt them will never understand.
So I thought it might help to compile a sampling of just how right they were. And how we, the doubters of the pundits and their conventional wisdom, were so wrong in our inability to understand the politics of this day. This is a teachable moment for us! So now, for the sake of posterity, and in no particular order, a sample list of their wisdom:
- Hispanics will never vote for an African-American. There has always been a tension between the two ethnic groups. The divide is far too great for any one candidate to overcome.
- Jews will never vote for an African American. There has always been a tension between the two ethnic groups. The divide is far too great for any one candidate to overcome.
- Supporters of Sen. Clinton will switch allegiance to Sen. McCain. The bitterness of the campaign and the race of the candidates will trump actual issues.
- Supporters of Sen. Clinton will definitely switch allegiance to Sen. McCain and Gov. Palin. The bitterness of the campaign and the race/sex of the candidates will trump actual issues.
- An extended primary will destroy the Democratic party. The fissures are irreparable. Pay no attention to record voter registrations. These wounds cannot be healed.
- Michigan and Florida will punish Sen. Obama. Given the awful treatment of these states after they merely skirted around a few party rules in the primaries, Sen. Obama has handed those states to Sen. McCain. The offended Democrats will never forgive.
- ‘Celebrity’ will de-rail Sen. Obama. There is no worse fate for a politician than being popular. Record-breaking crowds here and abroad will kill his chances.
- Sen. Obama will avoid negative attacks if he only agrees to town-hall meetings. Not agreeing to those town-hall meetings logically dictates the acceptability of referring to Sen. Obama as a terrorist.
- Sen. McCain will defeat Sen. Obama in the lone town-hall debate because that is his strength. That One’s only hope is to come out of it beaten and bloodied, but still standing.
- The Bradley Effect will cost Sen. Obama the election. He needs to have a buffer of 6% in the popular vote if he hopes to win a majority of votes cast.
- ACORN will throw the election into turmoil. Voter registration fraud will cloud the results. Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck will appear at numerous polling locations across the country to cast their illegal votes.
- Vice-Presidential choices will not matter. Gov. Palin’s lack of knowledge on issues will have no impact on the decision of the voters. Most women will flock to her for no other reason than a certain kinship. She’s just like them.
- Sen. Obama will lose the tax argument. Republicans own it. Taxation is the cause of our economic woes. It’s not stagnant wages. Nor is it rising fuel costs. Or health care costs. Spending any length of time in the debates talking about taxes is time spent on Sen. McCain’s turf, and an automatic loser.
- Rev. Wright/Mr. Ayers/Insert-Name-Here will be an anchor to Sen. Obama’s candidacy. The average American will not understand that an individual can know someone in their lifetime, and not necessarily ascribe to every one of that individual’s thoughts, beliefs, and actions; past, present or future.
- Republican strongholds will not flip. Sen. Obama is merely throwing money into places like North Carolina and Indiana to keep Sen. McCain on defense. He cannot actually win those states. Besides, Chairman Dean’s 50-state strategy has proven to be a waste of time and money. Those states are lost causes.
There are other examples, and I'm sure you have your own, but the day is only so long. Kos has rightly touched on this theme so many times, but I think it's important to underline it in bold-type and large font.
We decide what is conventional wisdom. It is not decided for us. We can determine what is possible, even if it is not probable. Don’t watch the experts express their beliefs with certainty and think "They must be right". Think "They might be right. But then again..."
And beyond the snark, I think it is fair to say that just because the pundits are wrong so often does not mean that they can’t be right. Flipping through my rolodex of cliches, I found one about a ‘broken clock’ that seems to apply. Here’s hoping that the clock will finally begin to keep the right time, just when we need it to work the most.