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Daily Howler: Starting tomorrow, Harris and Halperin. Today, though, a rich potpourri
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STARTING TOMORROW! Starting tomorrow, Harris and Halperin. Today, though, a rich potpourri: // link // print // previous // next //

STARTING TOMORROW: We haven’t read The Way to Win, the new John Harris/Mark Halperin tome. Tomorrow, though, we’ll start a series based on their Charlie Rose appearance last Thursday. The pair said many things which were right. Then, there was the rest of the session.

How did Dems lose the White House in 00 and 04? Harris, Halperin and Rose puzzled hard. Starting tomorrow, we help them remember.

THE WAY TO WASTE TIME: Chris Wallace really isn’t a GOP shill. But good grief, what a fancified dandy! Yesterday, before discussing congressional races, he offered a true confession:
WALLACE (10/8/06): Now, before we get to this, I have to tell you, this is how exciting it is in the Wallace household. Last night, 8 o'clock, C- SPAN, I'm sitting there watching the Harold Ford-Bob Corker debate in Tennessee. I don't know. In any case—


Brit, what do you make of those races and what it tells you about fortunes on the Senate side?
We were puzzled. After all, by any normal reckoning, watching the debate between Ford and Corker is part of Wallace’s job description. (We watched it, and we don’t get paid.) But the panel enjoyed a good solid laugh at the thought that Wallace had done so—at the thought that he had stooped so low to earn his big Fox pay.

We always marvel at moments like that. But when Wallace spoke at the end of the session, we didn’t marvel. We cringed:
JUAN WILLIAMS: Well, [the New Jersey Senate race is] tight because I think people didn't anticipate that Menendez would have so much trouble with the incumbency. And he's had his own little scandals. But I think that ultimately he comes out on top. Kean's name is golden in the state. Without a doubt, his dad's a great guy and all that. But I think that people see him as a little bit of an ingenue. He's just a little too young for this.

WALLACE: Well, you know, it is fascinating. I mean, it's what political junkies we are. There's nothing better than sifting over the tea leaves, and guess what? We've got four whole weeks to do so.

Thank you all, panel. That's it for this week. See you next week.
Uh-oh! For four more weeks, Wallace will waste the nation’s time as his pundits try to forecast the outcome of the congressional elections. In fact, they’ll have no idea who is going to win. But they’ll sit there and waste our time anyway.

How worthless are these attempts at prediction? Every two years, on the Sunday before the election, the Washington Post runs an informative feature on page one of its Outlook section. The paper asks a gang of pundits to predict the elections—and they always get the congressional numbers wrong, often by large margins. Let’s understand what this means. Just a few day before the election—with the benefit of all the final polls—these experts still don’t know what will happen! But so what! This doesn’t stop them from wasting our time for months, trying to predict the next such election. They’re too dumb to see what a waste this all this. They enjoy “sifting over the leaves,” so that’s what they sit there and do.

Predicting is fun—and explaining issues is boring. So that’s what Wallace’s panels will do for the next four weeks. No, they won’t know what the outcomes will be. But there’s one thing they surely do know—a good way to kill time when they see it.

WE LIBERALS SOMETIMES ENJOY THIS GAME TOO: Of course, we liberals sometimes convince ourselves that we can mind-read the voters too. In the past week, we’ve thrilled at the thought that conservative voters will turn on the GOP because of the Foley-Hastert hijinks. But uh-oh! Read this front-page piece in today’s New York Times to see that voters can sometimes react to such matters in ways that surprise us.

Ditto with Allen and Webb! We thumped the tub over old yearbook photos. We mind-read each word from Allen’s mouth when he was asked about mom’s heritage. But Virginia polls haven’t moved an inch since we went wild for Macacawitz matters. Webb was gaining when the focus was on Iraq (where the gent had been deeply prescient). But the press corps started stressing its brilliant “character” judgments—and Webb may have moved back a tick.

Maybe Karl Rove will get arrested! No, maybe George Allen was a junior high racist! No, maybe Dennis Hastert is really gay too! (Click here. Then, click here too. And yes, that’s what O’Donnell was saying.) Question: Would you vote for a gang of losers who built their world around questions like this? We don’t have the slightest idea how this fall’s elections will go. But we’d want to vote for the liberal pol who said this: I want to talk to you about Iraq, not about the terrible things I perceive in my troubling opponents.

WHAT HER WORRY: Then you have the inspiring Fox News viewer who sent this e-mail to Wallace:
WALLACE (10/8/06): And about Bob Woodward's new book, State of Denial, Sylvia Simpson from Texas offers this review: "It is a constant amazement that media persons in Washington assume that the rest of the country is interested in waiting with baited breath for the next Woodward book to come out. I dare say that most care as little about it as I do."

Be sure to let us know your thoughts by e-mailing us at
Are the revelations in Woodward’s book true? Sylvia Simpson just flat doesn’t care!

GONE AND COMPLETELY FORGOTTEN: We like to get ourselves worked up about exciting new polls like this one. Omigod! “If the election were held today, 51 percent of likely voters would vote for the Democrat in their district versus 39 percent who would vote for the Republican.” We think that sounds extremely good—except for the fact that, six months back, Paul Krugman warned about this (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 4/24/06):
KRUGMAN (4/21/06): [W]hat's left of the conservative agenda? Not much.

That's not a prediction for the midterm elections. The Democrats will almost surely make gains, but the electoral system is rigged against them...

[A] combination of accident and design has left likely Democratic voters bunched together—I'm tempted to say ghettoized—in a minority of Congressional districts, while likely Republican voters are more widely spread out. As a result, Democrats would need a landslide in the popular vote—something like an advantage of 8 to 10 percentage points over Republicans—to take control of the House of Representatives. That's a real possibility, given the current polls, but by no means a certainty.
We don’t know if “Krug” was right on the math. But if he’s right, Dems could have a 10-point advantage in the popular vote and still not win control of the House. Pundits on all the shows will be laughing (“If Dems can’t win in this environment...”). And they’ll be too freakin’ dumb to explain how this outcome occurred.

Dems and libs should be talking about Krugman’s lament. But we find it more important to thumb through old high school yearbook photos. And maybe Dennis Hastert is gay! That would cinch our control of the House!