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Fiction or Journalism?

Y’all have probably already seen the Christopher Beam note over at Slate called The Only Politics Article You’ll Ever Have To Read: What if political scientists covered the news? I think it is intended to be a joke, but I’m not sure; all I know about Christopher Beam is that he is Alex Beam’s kid, which I think makes him the Christopher Buckley of, er, something. Journalism? No, not journalism. Something, anyway.

The point, if you haven’t read it and aren’t inclined to click through, is that all the stuff that political journalists write about is considered by political scientists to be meaningless crap.

At the same time, Obama’s job approval rating fell to 48 percent. This isn’t really news, though. Studies have shown that the biggest factor in a president’s rating is economic performance. Connecting the minute blip in the polls with Obama’s reluctance to emote or alleged failure to send enough boom to the Gulf is, frankly, absurd.

The thing is, while it’s phrased in a lighthearted way, it’s pretty much correct, and journalists not including the stuff that he so jocularly is either tremendously ignorant or tremendously dishonest—I should say, I rather expect that it’s self-delusion, rather than deliberate deception. There are a lot of incentives for journalists (and even more so pundits and analysts) to stay in denial about the ways in which so much stuff that is easy to report and fun to read has nothing to do with the actual processes of government.

While I’m at it, I wanted to ask Gentle Readers if their estimate was more or less the same as mine: in this 2010 election cycle, counting both primaries and the general election, what percentage of the eligible voters in this country will go and vote against an incumbent they had previously voted for in a previous election for that office? I mean any office, anywhere on any of the ballots in this cycle?

Tolerabimus quod tolerare debemus,