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In an item yesterday, Eric Alterman rated me as “America’s worst pundit” due to a line I wrote in the fall of 2006 which said that Barack Obama was already “considered a potential vice-presidential nominee” for 2008. Alterman’s right–I plead guilty to not expecting Obama’s presidential run, although I would point out that at the time no one else was predicting it either. I was even more humbled when I went back to see how a real pundit does his job.
Take, for example, this video from September 26, 2006 (a week after my Obama story had shipped to the printer) in which “Eric predicts the early Dem primaries.” His call: John Edwards would win in Iowa and South Carolina (and quite possibly Nevada as well), and emerge as the only challenger to Hillary Clinton. As for Obama, Alterman said it was possible he would run for president but that the “real hope” was Al Gore–-with Obama as his vice-president.
In another video, on May 31, 2007, Alterman called the G.O.P. race as well. Fred Thompson, said Eric, had “already won the nomination.” He called him “a terrific candidate,” adding, “I would bet a lot of money on Fred Thompson.”
In the same video, Alterman said that “I kind of love Obama,” but it would be an incredible risk for the Democrats to nominate him because the country just wasn’t ready for a Black president. People might not admit it, he said, but many just wouldn’t vote for “the Black guy.”
In a blog posting a day earlier, Alterman also predicted that Thompson would win the G.O.P. nomination “as he, alone, appeals to every faction of the party.” (Maybe he meant to say a “fraction” of the party?) Thompson would likely be facing off against Clinton, rated by Alterman as “the favorite for the Democratic nomination.”
So who’s going to win in November, Fred Thompson or Hillary Clinton? There’s no way of knowing, at least until Alterman’s next post.
More from Ken Silverstein:
Perspective — October 23, 2013, 8:00 am
How pro-oil Louisiana politicians have shaped American environmental policy
Postcard — October 16, 2013, 8:00 am
A trip to one of the properties at issue in Louisiana’s oil-pollution lawsuits
I recently spent a semester teaching writing at an elite liberal-arts college. At strategic points around the campus, in shades of yellow and green, banners displayed the following pair of texts. The first was attributed to the college’s founder, which dates it to the 1920s. The second was extracted from the latest version of the institution’s mission statement:
The paramount obligation of a college is to develop in its students the ability to think clearly and independently, and the ability to live confidently, courageously, and hopefully.
Let us take a moment to compare these texts. The first thing to observe about the older one is that it is a sentence. It expresses an idea by placing concepts in relation to one another within the kind of structure that we call a syntax. It is, moreover, highly wrought: a parallel structure underscored by repetition, five adverbs balanced two against three.
Percentage of Britons who cannot name the city that provides the setting for the musical Chicago:
An Australian entrepreneur was selling oysters raised in tanks laced with Viagra.
A naked man believed to be under the influence of LSD rammed his pickup truck into two police cars.
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“Shelby is waiting for something. He himself does not know what it is. When it comes he will either go back into the world from which he came, or sink out of sight in the morass of alcoholism or despair that has engulfed other vagrants.”