Alex Massie

The Rules of Punditry

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More on Massachusetts later, but Conor Friedersdorf makes a necessary point that applies to pundits from all quarters most of the time and not just to this election in the Bay State:

It is particularly amusing to see folks call the outcome stunning in one breath and aver in the next that they can explain why it happened mere hours after the fact, without any new data save the result. This is especially grating when it’s so obvious that the election turned on all the issues that were most important to me, that the outcome so clearly vindicates my world view, and that the wisest course in light of the results is for both parties to do exactly what I’ve been advocating for all along.

Only a partisan hack could deny that all aspects of this election bolstering my analysis happened to be most significant, whereas factors that cut against my thesis were ultimately irrelevant to the outcome. Let this be a lesson to my political and ideological opponents in future contested elections — insofar as it is advantages my policy preferences, what happened in Massachusetts is a harbinger of things to come in the 2010 midterms, and even in 2012. Meanwhile all precedents seemingly at odds with my national political proclivities were unique, and should be ignored.

Quite. In this instance, for example, it means that Scott Brown's victory was either a complete repudiation of Obamacare or had nothing to do with it at all. It is either an admittedly sobering one-off, freak result or the first shot of a coming Republican Revolution. And so on, depending upon where you're starting from.

Written byAlex Massie

Alex Massie is Scotland Editor of The Spectator. He also writes a column for The Times and is a regular contributor to the Scottish Daily Mail, The Scotsman and other publications.

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