T Nation

Political Predictions 2004


#1

Mark Steyn points out that the well known facts that constituted political wisdom in 2004 haven't exactly turned out as predicted...

[i]Remember the conventional wisdom of 2004? Back then, you'll recall, it was the many members of George Bush's "unilateral" coalition who were supposed to be in trouble, not least the three doughty warriors of the Anglosphere -- the president, Tony Blair and John Howard -- who would all be paying a terrible electoral price for lying their way into war in Iraq. The Democrats' position was that Mr. Bush's rinky-dink nickel-&-dime allies didn't count: The president has "alienated almost everyone," said Jimmy Carter, "and now we have just a handful of little tiny countries supposedly helping us in Iraq." (That would be Britain, Australia, Poland, Japan . . .) Instead of those nobodies, John Kerry pledged that, under his leadership, "America will rejoin the community of nations" -- by which he meant Jacques Chirac, Gerhard Schr?der, the Belgian guy . . .

Two years on, Messrs. Bush, Blair, Howard and Koizumi are all re-elected, while Mr. Chirac is the lamest of lame ducks, and his ingrate citizenry have tossed out his big legacy, the European Constitution; Mr. Schr?der's government was defeated and he's now shilling for Russia's state-owned Gazprom ("It's all about Gaz!"); and the latest member of the coalition of the unwilling to hit the skids is Canada's Liberal Party, which fell from office on Monday. John Kerry may have wanted to "rejoin the community of nations."

Instead, "the community of nations" has joined John Kerry, windsurfing off Nantucket in electric-yellow buttock-hugging Lycra, or whatever he's doing these days.[/i]

I wonder if anyone with Google and some free time would like to compile a list of well known pundits (or even posters around here) whose predictions of trouble for Bush, Blair, Howard et al have come to naught.


#2

Even though the thread isnt dating back as far i was actually glad that we had bush in 2000... i remember thinking that a pres with an MBA would find a way to rev up the economy. Sure enough the economy is doing OK but we are going about it horribly via conflicts in iraq.


#3

Good post BB.


#4

Isn't that what pundits get paid to do though, to make claims that appeal only to a party's core constituency at a particular moment in time. Most of the predictions that I have heard from pundits in my days have not come to pass.

I am certin that someone could assemble a similarly long list of pundits who predicted the oppostie. There was no great trouble for these figures, nor was there any great success. There have been small successes and small rough spots for all, but nothing as earth-shattering as the pundits would have had us believe.


#5

Good post, but Mark Steyn's got the opposite problem. He's so completely in Bush's camp that he almost never concedes that the Republicans make errors. And bear in mind that Blair hanging around in Britain isn't, unfortunately, an endorsement of the war in Iraq, but rather the complete lack of a viable opposition party, though that may be starting to change.


#6

Well, at some level pundits are supposed to be valuable because of their expertise in politics, not just their appeal to one or the other constituency. I guess my subpoint is no one really keeps track of how accurate their predictions are, or whether their "expertise" is worth much.

Of course, with any predictive stuff you run the risk of survivor bias as you keep track over time, but I would still be interested in their track records -- especially when the consensus majority opinion that is reflected in the news turns out to be so wrong.


#7

This is all very true. I suppose I am just showing my colors and letting my deep hate for pundits shine through (they are, after all the only people I would ever wish ill of).

I am somewhat lost as to what consensus majority opinion you are referring to though. If it is in regard to the opinion of the citizenry, I do not believe that one had formed at the tiem in question.

If it is that of the pundits, it can hardly be considered representative of the public opinion or even common political opinion among political groups(particularly given the fact that the FCC removed equal coverage regulations a couple years back - which means that pundits who appear on television, radio or in other mediums do not necessarily fall in even numbers on the two sides of the American political spectrum or are afforded opportunity to respond to the comments of the pundits with whom their politics and opinions confilct).

This would make the findings of such an inquiry quite useless for political purposes, aside from showing the high propensity for pundits to make poor predictions (and by extension provide justification to banish them to marginal media outlest-as if that would ever happen).

I am also a little confused as to how concensus majority opinion you refer to was reflected in the news. Was it simply reflected through the presence of pundits as guests on 'news' programs, or was it reflected in other ways.