Bring Back the Pundits

The NYT has a little article today trying to “enter a pundit-free zone” by asking supposedly smart people what they would do if they were President. The opening paragraph — which castigates the media for focusing on stupid things like an election that’s 15 months away — is OK. But the result look like a collection of “What I would do if I were President” essays from grade school, only not as intelligent or informed.

Example:

If I were president, I’d appoint a blue-ribbon committee of 14 accomplished citizens — one each representing these nonpolitical walks of American life: arts, science, sports, big business, entrepreneurs, tech, medicine, law, education, environment, defense, religion, farming and philanthropy — and charge them with imagining innovative industries that put Americans to work and add value to our world. I’d prioritize among the committee’s ideas, then advocate for a tax code rewarding sustainable job-rich industries, especially those that liberate us from imported oil.

Yes, because successful industries can just be created by 14 people. And how many government panelists predicted the iphone?

The essays tend toward the very liberal, except a couple that say “I would do something” but not as succinctly:

I would require members of Congress to participate in a weeklong workshop on dialogue, negotiation and compromise before the next session. All sessions would begin with 10 minutes of silence.

and

I would invite all of the members of Congress to join me in an improvisation retreat. We would spend the time practicing saying “yes” to each other and really listening to one another’s offers. We would create stories of well-being. We would encourage thinking “inside the box.” We would look for innovative ways to use the resources at hand to solve our problems. We would make some mistakes, and we would laugh a lot. Real laughter has been absent in the White House lately.

Yes. Because real political differences and special interest pull can be resolved by bonding experiences we learned at summer camp. Fucking hell, why don’t you just get it over with and have them sing Kumbaya?

The sample is ridiculously narrow. The author basically called up 12 well-off white colar friends. I count three academics, three authors, one artist, one theologian, one community organizer and one alternative medicine crank. Only two could be counted as being in business, one of which is James Dyson. With the exception of Dyson, I doubt that any of them have worked a blue collar job or made a business payroll. I would describe none of them as representative of working Americans. And their answers represent appalling ignorance of our economy with the possible exception of Dyson, who talks about risk, and Neil deGrasse Tyson, who wisely ducks the question in favor of talking up science. It just illustrates what Heinlein noted: Expertise in one field does not carry over into other fields.

This may be the stupidest thing I have ever read. Well done, NYT.

Comments are closed.

  1. CzarChasm
    If I were president, I’d appoint a blue-ribbon committee of 14 accomplished citizens — one each representing these nonpolitical walks of American life: arts, science, sports, big business, entrepreneurs, tech, medicine, law, education, environment, defense, religion, farming and philanthropy — and charge them with imagining innovative industries that put Americans to work and add value to our world. I’d prioritize among the committee’s ideas, then advocate for a tax code rewarding sustainable job-rich industries, especially those that liberate us from imported oil.

    Yes, because successful industries can just be created by 14 people. And how many government panelists predicted the iphone?

    Not sure when the responses were gathered, but the one above sounds frightfully close to the Super Congress, only it’s working sans any of the specified expertise.

    It’s hard to guess who got the idea from whom, but as idiotic and dangerous to this country as the Super Congress is, it sounds about right that some politician read similar ramblings from an anonymous internet poster and implemented it into law.

    CC

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  2. HARLEY

    government panelists predicted the iphone?

    Not sure when the responses were gathered, but the one above sounds frightfully close to the Super Congress, only it’s working sans any of the specified expertise.

    That super congress is a mouthfull, how about a more succinct word for it. Politburo

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  3. HARLEY

    But the result look like a collection of “What I would do if I were President” essays from grade school, only not as intelligent or informed.

    Doesnt that make you all nice warm and fuzzy?

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  4. CzarChasm

    While that works fine for me Harley, I find it beyond sad that we need to use the mouthful version just to distinguish between a current US government entity, and one of the USSR that has been dead and gone (at least in the state that we intend to imply by using it) for more than 20 years. For that reason alone, I will stick with “Super Congress.”

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  5. Seattle Outcast

    The first thing I’d do is make it illegal for lawyers to hold public office – they’ve fucked the country up enough as it is

    Next I’d implement my own version of term limits: after 12 years, combined, in either House or Senate, you are subject to summary execution at the end of your next term of office. Be really, really sure that you need to get those last few pieces of “critical legislation” done before turning the office over to younger blood…

    Get rid of gerrymandering districts that allows extremists to continually win re-election (Pelosi for example) by appealing to a lunatic fringe. If you can’t appeal to the center, get out of politics.

    I’d make all legislation subject to constitutional review before being enacted. Since this is highly time-consuming, congress will only be able to pass a few laws per year.

    Put all government agencies on notice – after just getting rid of several, the rest will be cut by at least 50%

    End all budgets for any program that isn’t actually something the government needs to be involved in. National Endowment for the Arts and NPR are first on the chopping block.

    Balanced budget amendment

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  6. Seattle Outcast

    I’m surprised that they didn’t get that moron Fareed Zakaria to tell us how to do it properly.

    I’ve yet to figure out exactly what his game is aside from destroying the USA in order to make it look like a 3rd world socialist country…

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  7. Hal_10000 *

    Fareed is really smart on foreign policy. But expertises in one area, as Heinlein said, does not translate into others. His economic ideas are pure 1970’s. I had to stop following him on Twitter, I was so sick of his crap.

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