Jonathan Chait takes a shot at Bobo’s paean to “regulated sobriety”:
The latest offensive, or counter-offensive, in the passive-aggressive Cold War between David Brooks and Paul Krugman has taken the form of an entire Brooks column not very subtly lambasting Krugman as a tired partisan hack while justifying his own work as thoughtful, elevated, and intellectually independent. It’s unfortunately muddled and self-serving in a way that obscures some pretty important questions about how political commentators ought to do their job.[…]
Oh, and here’s a final guideline, though it really only has a narrow applicability: If you’re going to write a guide to opinion writing that’s completely self-aggrandizing, you should probably own up to it.
I have only one guideline for opinion writers: get shit right. If you’re going to predict elections, do it with poll-averaging, and if that’s over your head, then shut the fuck up or just quote Nate Silver. If you like masturbating to pictures of cowboys, keep that to yourself and resist the urge to tell the world that someone’s manly characteristic proves he is a genius. If you don’t know what 1 percent of the GDP is, then don’t use percent of GDP to measure the costs of a war.
I honestly don’t care how people who get things right do it. I don’t care if Nate Silver is a careful Burkean or a raging manichean monster when he makes his predictions. I don’t care if Paul Krugman hurts people’s fee-fees when he slams austerity, as long his predictions about the effects of austerity are accurate (and they have been).
Pundits love to use sports metaphors, but they refuse to see their own profession as a sport. The reason is obvious, of course: getting things right, i.e. winning games, gets you paid in sports, sucking up to power and cranking out soft-rock soliloquies gets you paid in punditry.