Friday, December 15, 2006

Canadian and American pundits: BFF?

With the liberal leadership race done (more on that in a future post), I'm probably going to be writing less on Canada. One point of interesting correspondence between the two neighbours, though, is the "literati".

Look at this piece by Paul Wells.

(Enormous fan of this here blog that he is.)

But why is it that, on the very existential questions that cut closest to the distinctive hearts of Quebecers, Quebec's homegrown pundit class is so consistently wildly wrong about the reactions of ordinary Quebecers?

And is there not a stitch of introspection about this state of affairs?
Well, I'd answer, but instead I'd just point him over here, one of a series of pieces where Digby rips into the pundit class. The same thing that Wells is noticing in Quebec on unity issues, where the pundits' pronouncements are both forthright and totally unconnected to reality, is the case in the United States on Iraq. Both feature a body of writers that are as sure of their conclusions as they are, inexoriably, wrong.

Which raises a point. The worst part of the American situation is that even if you are wrong, if you're wrong the "right way", you'll be fine. You're allowed to say that Iraq is wrong now, but only if you were for the war back then, because you still aren't allowed to question the assumptions that got the pundits to where they are. Anybody who questioned things back when it mattered, noting that (for instance) the Americans' predominance in the intelligence community and intelligence-sharing agreements made that whole "everybody agreed on WMDs" argument worthless, is still considered beyond the pale.

Will the Canadians end up the same way? Even if the nation issue doesn't resonate, are Quebecois pundits (whatever that means) going to keep pretending that it is? Are the Canadian pundits still going to laud Stephen Harper's transcendent brilliance for passing that motion? Are they going to keep pretending something was true, so that they don't embarrass their fellows, no matter the cost?

If this trend keeps up? I'd say it's pretty damned likely.

Edit: Oh cripes, and here comes the Pundit's Refrain from Well's site, attacking Stephane Dion.

"Why do all those nasty liberals have to be so mean to the conservatives? It's so wretchedly partisan! They should get along and make government work!

"Oh, yes, those are my Bill O'Reilly books. I love him, sticking it to the godless LIEberals all the time. what of it?"

Wells was just quoting a letter writer, of course, but didn't exactly strenuously disagree. Guess what? He should. It's bullshit, and he knows better. It wasn't a liberal who said that bipartisanship was "date rape".

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