Bland assertions

One of our commenters remarked a few days ago that much of punditry suffers from saying nothing at all. At least, it doesn't say the kinds of things one can subject to any kind of serious critical scrutiny. If it can't be subjected to scrutiny, then it's not saying much. Maureen Dowd suffers from this. But if one reads The Daily Howler, as one should, then one might come to the view that Maureen Dowd says quite a lot, it's just that none of it can be subjected to critical scrutiny–so she says nothing at all. In the interest of enlarging the regions of punditry we analyze, take a look at the following from Ruth Marcus of the Washington Post: >Today, the mood feels different — whether it's because that electability strategy didn't work out so well; that Bush will be out no matter what; that Democrats seem favored to win in 2008; that Iraq is more of a disaster; or that the primary is far enough away that voters can vent now and strategize later. >For the moment, Democratic primary voters don't want Kerryesque parsing. "Let the conversation begin," Clinton's banners proclaim, but she's not saying what many of them want to hear — words like "mistake" and "sorry." >Instead, in the Clintonian formulation, the mistake was Bush's and the regret is that he misused the authority he was given. Iraq "is a gnawing, painful sore," she said. "People are beside themselves with frustration, and I understand that completely." >But people in that agitated state don't want to hear about the 60 votes required to proceed to Senate debate on a nonbinding resolution. "I know that is hard medicine for some people, because people say, 'Just do something,' " Clinton acknowledged. And so on. It's difficult to imagine what evidence could be advanced to support such broad assertions about what people want or what "the mood" is like. It gets worse. By way of conclusion, Marcus writes: >But Clinton in person seemed "much more inspirational and much more genuine," Cesna said, complimenting her willingness to stay more than an hour after the meeting, answering questions and posing for pictures. "She's willing to do her job to meet people in the state and maybe dispel some of the coldness and harshness that people feel about her." >In other words, campaigning in person Clinton can win over skeptics. But her nuanced position on the war, at a time when base voters are impatient with nuance, means laying off the doughnuts isn't going to be her biggest challenge here. The evidence for that claim seems to be the opinions of one slightly skeptical voter. In all of this, however, Marcus neglects to tell us what Clinton's position is that has won over that one skeptical voter a year and a half before the next election.