Hey, want to be a political hack? It’s super easy. If one party or campaign pursues normal political strategies to attempt to win, then you say that shows how desperate they are.
Byron York shows off his refined punditry for the Washington Examiner after Bill Clinton’s visit to campaign for Democrats in Arkansas.
Clinton’s visit to Arkansas was compelling evidence that Democrats are deeply, deeply worried about the shadow the Obama record has cast over November’s voting.
Compelling indeed! I mean, Democrats would only bring a popular former president in to campaign in his home state if they were worried. Like not deeply worried, but deeply, deeply worried. (York breathlessly reports on the “enormous hit” to Dems when Obama recently said his policies were on the ballot this November; sounds to me like something that would fire up people already highly motivated to vote GOP, but I’m not a pro pundit, so what do I know?) Shoot, next thing you know, Democrats will be deploying other hugely popular figures to try to gain an advantage. Grabbing for lifelines!
The thesis of this brand of punditry is that if a party or campaign tries to convince voters to 1) vote for them or 2) vote against the other guy, it proves that they’re in trouble and they know it. This is like saying that a basketball team putting its best player in the game is just desperate. Nothing shows that you’re losing like trying to win.
Think about how meaningless this rhetorical game is. Republicans on social media are saying that Clinton’s appearance shows that, as York put it, “Dems obviously nervous.” (Presumably, if Democrats had inexplicably shot themselves in the foot and not invited Clinton to campaign, it would show that they were “obviously calm”). I could in turn say that Republicans must be really nervous about Clinton’s appearance, since they keep bashing it. And then they could say that I must be really nervous and desperate since I’m so passionately bashing hack pundits who constantly say the other side is nervous and desperate. It shows how desperate partisans are when they say how desperate the other side is, and my pointing this out reveals my own desperation. Desperation abounds. This entire mode of punditry is a circle of drivel, masquerading as confident prediction.
This brand of phony swagger is par for the course for campaign hacks and flaks, and that’s fine, but it often passes for analysis among opinion journalists like York. Nice work if you can get it. I mean, just to demonstrate how easy it is, imagine someone writing this:
“Romney’s visit to Arkansas was compelling evidence that Republicans are deeply, deeply worried…”
Man, I can’t even finish. It’s just so lazy that I’m too embarrassed. Maybe being a hack isn’t as easy as I thought. You have to have no shame.