HamNation: Do Pundits Matter?

Mary Katharine Ham
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Posted: Feb 23, 2007 10:50 AM

You know, when you live in D.C. and among the blogs, it's easy to forget you're really weird-- that not everyone knows that Andrew Sullivan's dramatic shift from pro-war ideological conservative to strident war opponent based mostly on a single social-issue disagreement with the Bush administration may have lessened his credibility as a pundit.

Yep, you're weird. I was working on a special project this week, one of the topics for which was, "Do Pundits Matter?" so I took to the mall to find out. Aside from getting, err, questioned about our filming several times by mall security, all went smoothly for Katie and me, and we met many nice folks who, oddly, have no preference for Eleanor Clift or Tony Blankley.

Yeah, I couldn't figure it out either.

Oh, and my apologies for the gap in HamNation production. I've got my new computer with all the bells and whistles now, so I'm good to go. Thanks, Boss!

Update: I should just add that the video doesn't convey my fleshed-out opinion on whether pundits matter. Who they are doesn't matter, but what they say eventually does-- in the aggregate. The fact that most normal folks don't know who Eleanor Clift is is reflective of exactly what Eleanor Clift and other pundits' function is. We (if I can throw myself into the pool, here) worry about politics when others don't have the time or inclination. We worry about the flora in the background of Hillary's presidential announcement video as a clue to her strategy for an election that's almost two years away. Thank goodness not everyone is worried about that. The economy would tank if bloviation were most Americans' primary export.

But all the worrying about all the minutiae, two years ahead of an election, eventually boils down to the messages people hear in their daily lives when they finally get around to paying attention, sometimes just shortly before an election. All the mess we toss around day in and day out is all part of creating the environment in which folks will elect a new president in '08, and it will affect them, even if they have no idea who we are or what we did. I'm not sure that's an ideal system, but it sure should keep anyone's head from getting too big.

We are weird.