Home
In this issue
April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Dec. 28, 2011/ 2 Teves, 5772

A few cracks in my crystal ball

By Dana Milbank




http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Pundits say the darndest things on television.

Take, for example, the genius who said in January that “the president has a fairly easy” reelection ahead of him. Or the guy who said in June that Newt Gingrich was “finished, whether he knows he is or not.”

How about the talking head who said in July that House Speaker John Boehner had suffered a “mortal wound” at the hands of fellow Republicans? Or the one who predicted in August that Rick Perry would “hold his own” in the presidential debates?

One can only pity the commentator who pronounced Michele Bachmann “formidable” in August, just before her campaign withered, or the one who forecast a months-long “donnybrook” between Mitt Romney and the ­now-irrelevant Perry.

The pundit in each of these cases was, alas, the poor schnook whose byline appears above this column.

The luxury of being a prognosticator is never having to say you were wrong. Journalism is so disposable that, if you make your predictions with sufficiently long time horizons, people will almost always forget what you said by the time it can be proven false.

This year, though, I decided to hold myself to account by going through every transcript of my TV appearances, and several recordings, to score my forecasts. It is not an exercise I’d recommend for pundits with fragile ­self-esteem (if there is such an animal), but the results might be a useful guide for viewers wondering whether that talking head on the tube is full of it.

I should mention that my newspaper columns tended not to produce so many wayward predictions; my editors save me from embarrassment. I should also reassure the producers who book me for their shows that, for all my goofs, my batting average is probably better than most.

I argued in January, for instance, that Sarah Palin should no longer be regarded as a major political figure, and I predicted in early May that Herman Cain could well become the front-runner. I argued in August that the debt supercommittee was bound to fail and asserted in September that Ron Paul, now vying for an upset win in Iowa, had managed to exert outsize influence in the race. In August, I predicted that voters would regard Perry as “goofy,” and, a month before his “oops” moment, I described him as “on his way to being just another Rick Santorum.”

If there’s a pattern to my hits and misses — other than dumb luck — it’s the distinction between making predictions based on specific events and recognizing broad trends.

When commenting on a particular event, there’s a danger of exaggerating the significance. When Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour decided not to join the presidential race, I deduced that Barbour “is really saying that nobody can beat Obama.” In retrospect, it would seem that Barbour was saying only that he wasn’t running.

Trying to predict the daily back-and-forth of politics is like trying to make sense of gyrations in the stock market. Within a few weeks this summer, for example, I went from hailing Bachmann’s staying power to predicting that it’s “probably curtains for her.”

What a political journalist can do with some reliability, however, is discern underlying patterns. In covering George W. Bush’s first term in the White House, I found him fairly easy to predict: He would, invariably, stake out a position of maximum satisfaction to his conservative base. Similarly, handicapping Congress has been simple: You won’t lose money betting on failure.

In the presidential race, my predictions are based on a historical assumption: Republican voters, as I’ve argued regularly, tend to explore all other possibilities before settling on the most obvious one. This has been true for George H.W. Bush, Bob Dole, George W. Bush and John McCain. If the pattern holds, Mitt Romney will be the nominee in the end. That assumption is behind my oft-stated prediction that, despite the late surge by Gingrich, Republican voters will come to their senses.

Probably the most useful bit of TV commentary I did in 2011 was to remind viewers how little I know. The Republican presidential contest in Iowa, for example, has been dominated by volatility. I’ve noted many times that the people who will determine the outcome there are a few thousand Tea Party faithful and evangelical Christians — so small a sample that anything could happen. That’s why we’ve had a half-dozen different front-runners there.

The caucuses are now less than a week away, and I still don’t have a clue. If people on TV are telling you otherwise, they’re making it up.

Happy New Year: Not a prediction, just a wish.


Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in Washington and in the media consider "must reading." Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.


Comment on Dana Milbank's column by clicking here.


Previously:



12/23/11 A few cracks in my crystal ball
12/20/11 Strange brews and views?
12/19/11 Cellphone ban would be a distraction
12/15/11 Harry Reid, Mitch McConnell and the Malfunction Minuet
12/14/11 The presidential auction of 2012
12/12/11 Newt's tactics comes back to haunt him
12/06/11 Can an anthem save Occupy non-movement?
12/05/11 The winner of the GOP campaign: Washington
11/30/11 Barney the bully: Congressman Frank's other legacy
11/23/11 Jon Kyl's search-and-destroy mission
11/21/11 Pay to play, brought to you by Washington
11/17/11 Big enough to save the supercommittee?
11/16/11 Why Newt Gingrich won't last
11/08/11 The 2012 campaign gets seedier
11/06/11 A Machiavellian model for Obama
11/03/11 The Herman Cain crack-up
11/01/11 Cain can --- he will survive
10/27/11 Stuntmen of the supercommittee
10/26/11 Democrats on the sidelines
10/24/11 Rick Perry's birther Parade
10/24/11 The birthers eat their own
10/19/11 The GOP's middle man
10/17/11 The waiting for nothing Congress
10/12/11 Sparsely occupied D.C.: Why the movement hasn't caught on
10/10/11 Can Obama strike an alliance with Occupy Wall Street?
10/06/11 Chris Christie, such a presidential tease
10/05/11 Obama and his foot soldiers go toe to toe
09/28/11 Cain could deliver
09/26/11 Republicans? Mr. Nice Guys?
09/22/11 Why Ron Paul is winning the GOP primary
09/21/11 I am a job creator who creates no jobs
09/20/11 Obama launches a revolution
09/19/11 Dems for Romney?
09/14/11 ‘Supercommittee’? More than stupor committee
09/07/11 Mitt Romney finds his (corporate) voice
09/01/11 The infallible Dick Cheney
08/31/11 This liberal says Perry is the ultimate conservative candidate
08/29/11 Wanted: More bite from Obama the Great Nibbler
08/10/11 How Rep. Austin Scott betrayed his Tea Party roots
08/09/11 The most powerful man on Earth?
08/08/11 The FAA shutdown and the new rules of Washington
08/04/11 Lt. Col. Allen West fires a round at the Tea Party
08/03/11 Government on autopilot
08/02/11 Dems mourn debt deal like death
07/27/11 Life imitates sport
07/26/11 Obama and Boehner take on Washington
07/21/11 Why Americans are angry at Congress
07/20/11 The new party of Reagan
07/18/11 Rob Portman, the boring Midwesterner who could bring sanity to the debt debate
07/13/11 John Boehner's bind
07/04/11 Stephen Colbert, Karl Rove and the mockery of campaign finance
07/01/11 President Puts Up His Dukes, As He Ought To
06/28/11 Rod Blagojevich verdict: All shook up
06/27/11 Progressives voice their anger at Obama
06/24/11 ‘Mission accomplished,’ Obama style
06/22/11 Jon Huntsman's first step toward oblivion
06/21/11 Scott Walker finds making bumper stickers is easier than creating jobs
06/20/11 A day of awkwardness with Mitt Romney
06/06/11 Hubris and humility: Sarah Palin and Robert Gates on tour
06/02/11 The Weiner roast
06/01/11 Congress clocks in to clock out
05/30/11 Hermanator II: No More Mr. Gadfly
05/24/11 How Obama has empowered Netanyahu
05/24/11 Pawlenty bends his truth-telling
05/20/11 Default deniers say it's all a hoax
05/18/11: Gingrich gives voice to moderation
05/17/11: Donald Trump and the House of Horrors
05/16/11: The medical mystery of Mitt Romney
05/12/11: The body impolitic: Schock photos should tempt lawmakers to cover up
05/10/11: Muskets in hand, tea party blasts House Republicans
05/09/11: The GOP debate: America -- and the party -- needs the grown-ups
05/05/11: Mitch Daniels, an alternative to scary
05/03/11: Obama's victory lap
05/02/11: How the journalist prom got out of control
04/28/11: Obama's birther day: Why did he lower himself by appearing in the briefing room?
04/27/11: Obama, lost in thought
04/24/11: Andrew Breitbart and the rifts on the right
04/22/11: Ten Commandments for 2012
04/21/11: Obama likes Facebook. Facebook likes Obama.
04/18/11: Without Nancy Pelosi, Obama is adrift
04/15/11: If progressives ran the world
04/14/11: Faith in political apostasy
04/13/11: One man's revolution is another's political expediency
04/11/11: Shutdown theatrics
04/06/11: Paul Ryan's irresponsible budget
04/05/11: Robots in Congress? Yes, we replicant!
04/04/11: Robert Gibbs, Facebook and the White House corporate placement service
04/01/11: Haley Barbour, the fat cats' candidate
03/31/11: Republican freshmen in House shut down compromise, and possibly the government
03/30/11: Coburn and Durbin, the dynamic duo of the debt crisis
03/28/11: The Obama doctrine: A gray area the size of Libya
03/24/11: Dems as Weiners
03/23/11: Obama's quick trip from tyrant to weakling
03/17/11: Who's afraid of Elizabeth Warren?
03/15/11: The underwear flap over Bradley Manning
03/10/11: In Senate's debt debate, talk isn't cheap
03/09/11: With Obama's new Gitmo policy, Administration officials had some 'splainin to do
03/02/11: Issa press aide scandal is like bad reality TV
02/25/11: Jay Carney: Mouthpiece for an inscrutable White House
02/14/11: The Donald trumps the pols at CPAC
02/09/11: Arianna Huffington's ideological transformation


© 2011, Washington Post Writers Group