Eliot Cohen, fresh from his stint as a counselor in the Bush State Department, notes in WSJ
the essential quality of a good pundit:
Invariably, a pundit will prescribe solutions. In doing so, he should follow the advice of the late Raymond Aron, the wisest French policy intellectual of modern times: Never criticize a policy unless you can convincingly depict a better course of action. Aron, like many of the greatest commentators on policy, had virtually no experience in government, but great empathy for those in a position to decide. Empathy -- the capacity for imagining what it is like to be the other -- is an essential quality for the thoughtful pundit.
Couldn't agree more. I've always felt this way, probably because of the lucky experience I had of serving in the Clinton White House and before that at the FCC. It's always surprised me since how few commentators think this way.