Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Lazy Columnist Alert

Tom Friedman is all butched out today calling on Muslim societies to act responsibly and conjure up a sense of shame about terrorism committed in their name. He's so tough he practically sounds like George W. Bush! Only sensible and fair-minded!

In the course of this nothing-burger column, however, Friedman tosses out this bit of off-handed wisdom: "Every faith has its violent extreme."

Really? Is that true? There are violent extremist Quakers? And Unitarians? And B'hais? And Buddhists? And, well, never mind.

Earlier in the week Froma Harrop, who seems to be on staff at the otherwise very smart RealClear Politics, wrote that Democrats shouldn't get all worked up about the 2010 elections yet. Here's her stunning conclusion: "Ignore the polls-du-jour. Democrats could lose big on Nov. 2, 2010. Or, perhaps they won't."

How's that for earning penetrating insight?

Harrop's general proposition--that polls 10 months out need not be determinative for Democrats--isn't necessarily silly. It would be interesting to see some data points: What did the polls look like at this point in the 2006 cycle? Or the 2002 cycle? Or the 1994 cycle? But Harrop wants nothing to do with data. Data is hard! Some of it might not even be available on the internet! You might have to pay $35 for an academic journal article. Or actually call someone at Gallup!

Instead, Harrop's entire analysis is based on this: "Yes, most Americans have told pollsters that they don't approve of the health care legislation. But an even greater percentage -- I guarantee you -- has little idea what's really in it." And really, what's a little bit of data in the face of a columnist's personal guarantee.

1 comment:

Dave S. said...

My wife went to Swarthmore, where a friend of hers suggested the following sports cheer:

Fight, Fight, Inner Light
Kill, Quakers, Kill!