The Empathetic Pundit

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.


Blogger Rob Bartlett said...

Matt, I don't see a way to send you an e-mail, so I'll leave a comment...

I just wanted to say to keep up the great work. "Left, Right, and Center" is one of the podcasts that I look forward to every week. I think that you do a great job projecting a moderate left view while keeping things moving and keeping Bob and Tony from each others' throats! ;)

I recently subscribed to your blog - great stuff!

Oh - and I agree with your comments in this particular post!!

Keep up the great work!

Rob from Kennebunk

January 23, 2009 at 8:05 AM  
Blogger Andrea said...

Or, to quote Thumper in "Bambi": "If you can't say somethin' nice, don't say nothin' at all!"

January 23, 2009 at 9:28 AM  

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