Washington Babylon — February 14, 2008, 11:56 am

The Great Alterman Speaks: Thompson wraps up G.O.P. nomination as Edwards sweeps early Democratic primaries

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.

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I first heard the name Barack Obama in the spring of 2004, while visiting my mother in Chicago. As we sat around the kitchen table early one spring morning, I noticed a handsome studio portrait among the pictures, lists, cards, and other totems of family life fastened to the refrigerator door. “Who’s the guy with the ears?” I asked, assuming he was some distant relative or family friend I didn’t know or else had forgotten. “Barack Obama,” she answered with a broad smile. “He’s running for Senate, but he’s going to be the first black president.”

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I first heard the name Barack Obama in the spring of 2004, while visiting my mother in Chicago. As we sat around the kitchen table early one spring morning, I noticed a handsome studio portrait among the pictures, lists, cards, and other totems of family life fastened to the refrigerator door. “Who’s the guy with the ears?” I asked, assuming he was some distant relative or family friend I didn’t know or else had forgotten. “Barack Obama,” she answered with a broad smile. “He’s running for Senate, but he’s going to be the first black president.”

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I first heard the name Barack Obama in the spring of 2004, while visiting my mother in Chicago. As we sat around the kitchen table early one spring morning, I noticed a handsome studio portrait among the pictures, lists, cards, and other totems of family life fastened to the refrigerator door. “Who’s the guy with the ears?” I asked, assuming he was some distant relative or family friend I didn’t know or else had forgotten. “Barack Obama,” she answered with a broad smile. “He’s running for Senate, but he’s going to be the first black president.”

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I first heard the name Barack Obama in the spring of 2004, while visiting my mother in Chicago. As we sat around the kitchen table early one spring morning, I noticed a handsome studio portrait among the pictures, lists, cards, and other totems of family life fastened to the refrigerator door. “Who’s the guy with the ears?” I asked, assuming he was some distant relative or family friend I didn’t know or else had forgotten. “Barack Obama,” she answered with a broad smile. “He’s running for Senate, but he’s going to be the first black president.”

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