Punditry, the ability to render opinions whether founded or not, makes money for a select few who are willing to put their opinions before the public. Mostly, no one ever checks up on the pundits after the fact. (Except for William Safire, who checked up on himself once a year.) It seems to be an occupation where no mistake goes punished. Wrong often, pundits just keep opining away and getting paid for it. Some even pun while doing it.
Which is why I was excited to discover that the Washington Post is having a pundit contest. All you had to do was render an opinion about something, send it in, and wait to hear if you made the final 10 contestants. You might even get an expense paid trip to D.C. if you became a finalist.
And, if you won, you got to pen thirteen pieces which will be on the Post’s web page and maybe even in the print version of the paper. Plus you would be paid $200 per piece.
A Blogger’s dream.
Sadly, I only found out about the contest two days before it ended and I was on the road. The last evening of the contest I wrote a piece, thinking I could submit it before the midnight (EDT) deadline.
I didn’t reckon with the internet connection from the hotel. Down. The whole evening.
So, even though I didn’t get to enter, here is the pundit piece I woulda, coulda, submitted. But, sigh, now nobody – including President Obama – will read my wise words.
Well, that’s not true. You will read them. I hope.
Now that President Obama’s futile Copenhagen trip to boost Chicago for the 2016 Olympics is over and the trip fades from the public mind, it is time for an appraisal.
New presidents are prone to unforced errors. Like athletes who bumble a grounder, fumble a football, or slam a tennis ball into the net, presidents often make mistakes that appear unnecessary.
Abraham Lincoln’s Powhatan fumble and John Kennedy’s Bay of Pigs bumble spring to mind. But such errors are learning opportunities for presidents. Lincoln never again was careless about transmitting orders and Kennedy learned skepticism about experts and both became much more careful about their advisers. President Obama should learn as much from the Copenhagen trip.
In the future he should pay more attention to that adviser or advisers who told him not to go. Presumably he got advice such as, “Mr. President, you should not go for at least three reasons. First, the political mosquitoes will trumpet a defeat and while the conservative commentators are no more than mosquitoes, even a mosquito can carry a deadly disease. Second, we can’t count the votes so we don’t know if Chicago will win. If you lose, the political professionals on Capitol Hill are going to question our ability to count votes. Finally, leaders around the world are apt to draw the wrong conclusions and make dangerous mistakes in the future. Like the Soviet Politburo did with Kennedy, they may decide that you are not a strong leader and don’t have good political judgment. North Korea, Iran, and Pakistan are just a few countries who could make misjudgments about more serious matters. The story will be off the front pages in a few days but the perceptions will last and perceptions create their own realities.
Some of Kennedy's Untrusted Advisers
“There is too much at stake for you to go to Copenhagen, especially when you are going again soon for a climate change summit that matters much more. The Copenhagen Olympic meeting is why you have a Secretary of Commerce. Send him, whatever his name is.”
Assuming President Obama had advisers who said something like that, he needs to pay more attention to them next time. If no one told him, he needs some new advisers.
Contestants also had to submit 100 words on why the Post should select them. Here is mine.
You should select me so I can resolve several modern riddles. For instance, I know what to do about Afghanistan (teaser – Kashmir), global climate change (hint – atoms), health care (No more hints. I don’t work for free.), the economy, and America’s cultural decline.
In addition, you should hire me because I love to write but have no editor. I whine about this deficiency on both blogs that I keep. (https://goldenstate.wordpress.com/ and http://fatfinch.wordpress.com/ )
Besides, for a short time only, my writing is on sale: Only $200 for 800 words. Don’t wait! These special prices won’t last forever!
Here is some humorous advice for modern pundits from a modern pundit.