Pur Autre Vie

I'm not wrong, I'm just an asshole

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

A Significant Amount of Leverage Over the White House

Everyone loves Jon Stewart's coverage of Marc Ambinder's infamous question on the debt ceiling, which he presciently asked on December 7, 2010 (a date which will live in...) (start around the 4-minute mark if you just want the part I'm talking about):

Okay, so. I made a good faith effort to track down an Yglesias post arguing that political journalists spend too much time on horse-race bullshit and not enough time on the issues voters care about. This is the best I could do:

The Beltway convention of focusing exclusively on process, horse race speculation, and “he said, she said” has long struck me as not just annoying, but slightly more inexplicable than it appears at first glance.

(It's annoying because I know there's a more apposite post out there, but I can't find it after a fairly extensive search.)

So anyway, Yglesias really ought to know better. Ambinder's question is exactly the kind of inside-baseball, non-substantive question that the public doesn't care about. But it should. I'm not going to defend political journalism in all its manifestations, but paying attention to the accumulation and deployment of political power is a worthwhile endeavor. And deep in his heart, Yglesias knows this.


Blogger Sarang said...

It's worthwhile to separate out two points. One (MY's point) is that it is bad for politicians and politics junkies to use these process issues to determine how elections will play out because they only affect outcomes indirectly through their influence on policy; to predict whether someone will get reelected the best thing to do is to predict the growth rate and stick it in the Hibbs model. This is largely true, but it runs into the other point, which is that everyone esp. Obama is in fact perceptions-driven and therefore to predict what policies they are likely to enact it is beside the point to ask what a rational person in their place would enact. MY's target audience is some mix of policy makers and pundits, so he is being descriptive on the first point and prescriptive on the second. This seems internally consistent.

5:32 PM  

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