Little more than a gaggle of hacks and geeks.

Srdja Spoke Too Soon

with 4 comments

It wouldn’t be a stretch to say that everyone has had an “Oops, I spoke too soon” moment. This is especially true with political commentators. They are, too some degree, duty-bound to play the role of the forecaster. This often places them in the same vulnerable position as the weatherman, always open to the criticisms of those who have the luxury of 20/20 hindsight.

Srdja Trifkovic, an editor of Chronicles Magazine, provides us with a case-in-point. Following the lead of the magazine’s other editors, Trifkovic submitted his two cents worth on the “Palin Problem.” What had been dubbed “The Editor’s Roundtable” focused on the pros and cons of Senator John McCain’s choice of Gov. Sarah Palin as his running mate. There appeared to be a general consensus of pessimism amongst the editors. That is, until Trifkovic joined in.

This particular editor was more optimistic. He compared Ms. Palin’s foreign policy with those positions held by Senators Obama, Biden, and McCain. Then, being a realist of realists, he used statistics from insurance agencies and the Social Security Administration in order to demonstrate that a possible McCain death while in office would give Ms. Palin a whole new role in the White House. Once he had shown (statistically) that McCain has a 33-40% chance of dying during his first term in office, he concluded that Ms. Palin may be, when compared to the three aforementioned men, the best of all options.

According to Trifkovic, her positions couldn’t be any worse than theirs. He insisted that she was a tough nut to crack, making the neoconservative task of wooing or manipulating her more difficult than with former presidents. In fact, he went so far as to say that there was a 50-50 chance of her being a foreign policy realist.

Enter foot-in-mouth forecasting. Ms. Palin’s interview with ABC’s Charlie Gibson demonstrated not only that he was a tad off, but that he was in a different ballpark altogether.

One could, and should, argue that her position is horrifically worse than any of the aforementioned men. Her belief that geographical proximity to Russia provides a level of experience in foreign affairs is as absurd as saying that people who have been to the top of Cedar Point’s Magnum rollercoaster gives them foreign policy experience with Canada on account of the fact that you can see the country landscape on a clear day. Ms. Palin’s inability to define the Bush Doctrine – she said it was “his world view” – and then, once having it clarified for her, going off on a scripted rant about people “hell-bent on destroying our nation” should cause even the most cultic “McCainiac” to wince. Admitting that she is generally ignorant of foreign policy 101 is an understatement.

If only she stopped here. Then she may have saved some face. But she went on to talk about Israel, Iran, Pakistan, and Russia. We aren’t to “second guess” Israel’s decisions, even if they have major economic and military ramifications for the United States. Iran is not only a threat to the region, but poses a threat to “the entire world.” The US shouldn’t take off the table the possibility of crossing over the border of Pakistan border without the approval of the Pakistani government, regardless of the fact that they are (at least at the moment) our allies. And, the worst of the worst, America should fight for the inclusion of Georgia and Ukraine into NATO, regardless of the fact that this would jump-start Cold War II. When asked about whether or not we should go to war with Russia over Georgia, she replied, “Perhaps so.”

The remarks of Ms. Palin are grossly naïve and, were we to be honest, absolutely terrifying. This is not realism; this is a nightmare.

What does this say of Trifkovic’s forecasting? Not much, other than that he has a big, fat “F” on this particular prediction. No worry, it happens to the best of them.


4 Responses

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  1. Don’t be too hard on him- he has called other issue correctly!

    I am listening to your program currently- keep up the good work.

    Olivet looks “interesting”- what is the atmosphere on campus like? I went to a small liberal arts college- Wabash- in the ’80’s- the student body was mostly “conservative” but the faculty was less than “diverse”- which lead to many interesting conversations in class.

    Jeffrey S.Wilson

    September 19, 2008 at 6:09 pm

  2. I am a big fan of Trifkovic’s work. I have been for about 5 years.

    I am glad you enjoy the program. Spread the news. Last year was a good year, but I stopped the program mid-semester last Spring. The station asked me to pick it back up, primarily on account of its past popularity (I used to get phone calls from all over the country), so I did. It has been slow, but all is well.

    Olivet isn’t bad. I enjoy the fact that it is small. The faculty is relatively moderate, though I am not aware of any who would be paleoconservative. And I can’t complain, they continue to give me air-time! Well, that hasn’t been without controversy. But the school has been good to me, and I am rather proud to say I attend.


    September 20, 2008 at 11:12 am

  3. At my university radio station, a liberal like Hillary would have been onsidered a far right-winger.

    In fact even Obama would have been banned from getting a show there because everybody who applied had to sign a document saying they agreed with a bunch of stuff including that gay marriage is an undeniable right.


    March 10, 2009 at 3:25 am

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