Friday, May 16, 2008

The Mystery and Meaningless of Political Strategists

Where do all these political strategists come from? There must be thousands of them. Every day, it seems, a new batch never seen before shows up on the news stations . Are they being spontaneously generated in TV studios? Crawl out from rocks at night? They can be identified because they (1) nearly always repeat the party line of the day and (2) seldom have anything important or new to say. The worst situation is when a Dem. and a Repub. strategist are paired off against each other to offer a predictably partisan interpretation that adds nothing to understanding.

What accounts for this plague? Simple. The all-news stations have 60 minutes to fill every hour. They have at most 10 minutes of news, most of it old news repeated endlessly, and only occasionally new news. Breaking news breaks for 10-12 hours. They have roughly 20-25 minutes of commercials, and the rest is filled with commentary by resident pundits, network consultants, and imported experts. During the campaign season, i. e., nearly all the time, much of this time is filled by political strategists, except when there is a natural catastrophe, some medical story that is breaking in, Paris Hilton has been sighted (cited?), or a plane is in danger from landing gear not working, which brings out a multitude of immediately available aviation experts. Now and then, of course, we get to observe a highway chase, usually in California, that can occupy half a day. But mostly, these days we get to hear the vapid analysis of political strategists.

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