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FACE-SAVING-RELATED PROGRAM ACTIVITIES! Have pundits bungled their recent predictions? By law, major scribes can’t be wrong:


PLEASE COME TO MANCHESTER: Every four years, on the eve of the New Hampshire primary, we take part in a truly memorable “political-comedy-related program activity.” This Sunday night, the tradition continues—once again, it’s the New Hampshire Primary Comedy Concert, at Manchester’s delightful old Palace Theater. Also strutting and fretting on the refurbished stage: Will Durst; impressionist Jim Morris; and Boston’s own favorite son, Jimmy Tingle. Your host of hosts? Who else? Tony Snow! We’ve heard that our Uncle Walter, that man named Shapiro, will also be displaying his wares. And, as General Clark might once have said, there are rumors and gossip about other performers! Needless to say, the concert benefits an excellent cause; we’ll memorize the name of that cause by the weekend. Now if only we had a couple of jokes! It looks like we may have to fall back on Kierkegaard. If you’re in the Granite State, why not stop by and support a great cause and see if those rumors were accurate?

HAS POLLED WELL FOR YEARS: For our money, the most intriguing exchange after last night’s speech occurred on MSNBC, where Chris Matthews had put together the typical left-leaning media panel (Peggy Noonan, Pat Buchanan, Howard Fineman). But darn it! We’ve already taped over the segment, and MSNBC—saving a couple of bucks—doesn’t seem to be posting a transcript of the post-address session. At any rate, the exchange concerned Bush’s comments about Social Security privatization. “Younger workers should have the opportunity to build a nest egg by saving part of their Social Security taxes in a private retirement account,” the prez said. “We should make the Social Security system a source of ownership for the American people.”

Will Bush push “private accounts” this year? Here at THE HOWLER, we don’t have a clue. But in MSNBC’s post-address program, Buchanan suggested that the proposal had been poll-tested. Matthews voiced standard pundit surprise at such an heretical thought.

In fact, privatization has polled well for years, as we have noted in the past. (We asked John Zogby about this matter at the August 2000 Republican convention. At that time, the issue had polled favorably for years, Zogby said.) (As long as it is appropriately couched.) And privatization has long been favored by press corps elites. Will pundits ever stop calling this proposal a daring move by bold leader Bush? To recall how the issue was handled in Campaign 2000, see THE DAILY HOWLER, 5/14/02, 5/15/02, 5/17/02 and 5/20/02.

HOWIE’S REVENGE: Say what? Pundits have bungled predictions of the current Dem race? In this morning’s Post, Howard Kurtz’s toasting of the sooth-saying savants is really a piece for the ages. We especially enjoyed a comment by Dallas Morning News columnist Ruben Navarrette. A few weeks back, Navarette wrote that Candidate Kerry “must accept the fact that the game is over…The last time John Kerry was engaged in this hopeless a mission, he was dressed in fatigues and running around Southeast Asia.” But did Navarrette bungle this bold prognosis? Of course not! It’s hard, immutable Pundit Corps Law. Your pundits can make no mistakes:

KURTZ: Navarrette, whose piece declaring that Kerry “doesn’t have a prayer” was reprinted in The Washington Post, asked yesterday whether a reporter was “calling to rub salt in my wounds.” But he dug in his heels, saying of Kerry, “I still don’t think he wins the nomination,” and in that case “the column’s fine.”
See the reasoning? If it turns out that Kerry doesn’t win, that means that he didn’t have a prayer! More tomorrow as scribes duck incoming at the newly embattled New York Times.

WORTH REVIEWING: Yes, it’s true. Last weekend’s AP report by Tom Raum completely misstated the basic facts about Bush and the Air National Guard. Voters were misinformed all over the country. And wouldn’t you know it? Raum grossly downplayed the problems with Bush’s record. To see that old “liberal bias” in action, see THE DAILY HOWLER, 1/20/04.