Tuesday, February 06, 2007

What Are They For?

I'm sure most readers know why I highlight the absurdity that is Joe Klein on a regular basis, but maybe I should explain. The institution of Elite Punditry is premised on the notion that there are smart people with good judgment who have the unique ability to distill the complexity of the world, and nuance which is potentially not present in straight news stories, into an understandable narrative. Their role isn't simply to opine, but to provide guidance and analysis - tempered by that supposed good judgment - for people who presumably have less time than they do to sort through the all of the news of the day. And, at times, especially when they go on the teevee on roundtable or other situations when there are a variety of viewpoints being expressed, they are there to represent, if not parrot, an ideological position. So, when Shields and Brooks go on the Newshour every Friday their role is, in part, to represent the liberal and conservative viewpoints at least in broad terms.

Klein has failed on all of these counts. On Iraq, he failed to have, or at least express, good judgment. On the teevee where he plays "the liberal," he not only didn't take the anti-war position, he actually took the pro-war position.

Even worse than that, he wants to absolve himself of any responsibility, undermining the entire premise of Elite Punditry - That Words Mean Things and They Matter. If Joe Klein thinks there should be no accountability for the positions held by Elite Pundits, that their influence is unimportant and irrelevant, then it isn't clear what exactly they're for. His judgment sucks and that doesn't matter, Klein seems to think. He had a chance to take a stand when it mattered, and he didn't, and that doesn't matter, Klein seems to think.

Fine. So why the hell should anyone listen to him?