Bill Kristol Sees Around Corners

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JONATHAN CHAIT JUNE 10, 2011

Bill Kristol Sees Around Corners

[Guest post by Alex Klein]

In the wake of Bill Kristol’s bold declaration that “Rudy’s Running,” our friends over at The Atlantic have compiled a handy timeline of five of the pundit’s most hilariously wrong predictions. The problem is, we think they’re selling him a bit short: he’s about as accurate as a Ouija Board. Let’s peer back into our Kristol Ball for more examples of prophecies unfulfilled.

Our favorite political prognosticator makes his worst predictions during the campaign season:

In November 30, 2005, Kristol wrote “All this made me think the 2006 elections could result in a Speaker Pelosi. I now think that unlikely.” Bill should have stuck with his gut.

In September 2007, Kristol hinted that a Fred Thompson-David Petraeus ticket would bring it home for the GOP in the general election. Nobody else thought so — especially not Thompson and Petraeus.

In a column in July 2008, Kristol wrote “I expect that in the next couple of weeks we’ll learn that Murphy is coming on board [the McCain campaign] as chief strategist.” The next day, Murphy announced, “I do not expect to join the campaign.”

On August 13, 2008 Kristol predicted “Colin Powell will endorse Sen. Obama, and he may well give a speech at the Democratic convention explaining his endorsement of Obama.” Powell responded, “I do not have time to waste on Bill Kristol’s musings. I am not going to the convention. I have made this clear.”

Oh, and on election night, Kristol predicted McCain/Palin would win.

Kristol is too masterful a Nostradamus to limit himself to just one prediction, even if he ends up contradicting himself along the way. After Sarah Palin bailed on the governorship, Kristol argued that she was “all in” for a “high risk” presidential run. Bold analysis. Almost as bold as this recent prediction: “Can I go out on a limb, since everyone else is scared to say — actually make any predictions. I predict Palin will not run.”

After Arizona Governor Jan Brewer passed a draconian anti-immigration bill in 2010, most constitutional lawyers expected a quick judicial override. But on April 25, independent-minded Kristol predicted that it would survive the courts, claiming, “I doubt it violates the Constitution.” The day before the law was scheduled to go into effect, the US Department of Justice issued an injunction.

In addition to seer, Kristol is also a mercantilist. On January 19, Kristol wrote, “I predict we will see…a modernized international gold standard.” Now, to be fair, this one could come true, but barring apocalypse, most economists find Kristol’s forecast is ludicrous.

But beyond the fun and games of betting on political horses, we can’t forget the Kristol classics. Here are the wrongheaded predictions that made him most famous, before and during the invasion of Iraq. The top four, without comment:

February 7, 2002: American and alliance forces will be welcomed in Baghdad as liberators…We will be respected around the world for helping the people of Iraq to be liberated

March 28, 2003: Look, I would be shocked if we don't find weapons of mass destruction. 

April 4, 2003: There's been a certain amount of pop sociology in America ... that the Shia can't get along with the Sunni and the Shia in Iraq just want to establish some kind of Islamic fundamentalist regime. There's almost no evidence of that at all. Iraq's always been very secular.

April 28, 2003: The battles of Afghanistan and Iraq have been won decisively and honorably.

Turns out when you make wild, ideological guesses from a high perch, people listen. And although a Hamilton study has confirmed that pundits are no better at predicting the future than a coin-flip, Kristol’s guesses are more like rolling a Dungeons & Dragons die. Take note GOP: As the primaries approach and Kristol foresees a resurgent Rudy and the repeal of Obamacare, the party might be better off with tealeaves. 

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posted in: jonathan chait, alex klein, bill kristol, david petraeus, fred thompson-david, sarah palin, republican party

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