David Kirkpatrick

January 2, 2009

Krugman on the GOP

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 3:57 pm

Now, Paul Krugman has been no friend of the Republican Party during his time as an op-ed columnist for the New York Times, but the GOP braintrust would do well to take the time and absorb some of the points in this essay.

Carefully aimed, if oversimplified, Krugman does lay out the basics of what turned into a perfect storm against the party for the 2008 election cycle. And what could easily keep the GOP in the wilderness for a while barring some sea-change in attitude.

I’m for less government, but I’m also for competence in the government we do — and will — have.

From the link:

The fault, however, lies not in Republicans’ stars but in themselves. Forty years ago the G.O.P. decided, in effect, to make itself the party of racial backlash. And everything that has happened in recent years, from the choice of Mr. Bush as the party’s champion, to the Bush administration’s pervasive incompetence, to the party’s shrinking base, is a consequence of that decision.

If the Bush administration became a byword for policy bungles, for government by the unqualified, well, it was just following the advice of leading conservative think tanks: after the 2000 election the Heritage Foundation specifically urged the new team to “make appointments based on loyalty first and expertise second.”

Contempt for expertise, in turn, rested on contempt for government in general. “Government is not the solution to our problem,” declared Ronald Reagan. “Government is the problem.” So why worry about governing well?

November 18, 2008

Nate Silver opines on today’s media and Lee Atwater

Filed under: Media, Politics — Tags: , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 1:24 pm

Insightful post from Nate Silver on today’s mediaand an added bit on Lee Atwater operating in today’s blogospherized political environment.

I’m really happy to see Nate and Sean at FiveThirtyEight keeping up analysis of the political scene. For anyone who doesn’t know, Nate is a statistician for Baseball Prospectus and brought rock-and-roll number cruching skills to this year’s election. And pretty much nailed the results. Probably has changed the world of political polling and projections forever, because partisan hacks just get exposed in his model.

He became something of a media darling with multiple television appearances as the site grew in traffic. It was a point of wonder what would happen at FiveThirtyEight once the election was over and there were no projections in the near future. Looks like, to all our benefit, those guys are going to sort through their thoughts and apply lessons learned to share some inside dope with the blogosphere. And I think that’s great. I love the site and hope it only continues to grow.

From the first link:

CBS’s underlying problem — and the commonality between the three items that I described above — is the arbitrary and largely ineffectual nature of the fact-checking process employed by the mainstream media. I have written for perhaps a dozen major publications over the span of my career, and the one with the most thorough fact-checking process is by some margin Sports Illustrated. Although this is an indication of the respect with which SI accords its brand, it does not speak so well of the mainstream political media that you are more likely to see an unverified claim repeated on the evening news than you are to see in the pages of your favorite sports periodical.

One of the questions triggered by the Frontlineprogram is what would have happened if Atwater were still alive today; might he have had more success in undermining Barack Obama than Steve Schmidt apparently did? My answer is very probably not, because the blogosphere serves as the fact-checkers that the mainstream media is too negligent to employ. On the contrary, I think that Mr. Atwater would have been smart enough to realize that he’d be eaten alive by Daily Kosand Media Matters and Keith Olbermann, and would be thoroughly enjoying himself in retirement playing in a blues band in South Carolina somewhere.