David Leonhardt’s Take on The Pundit Fallacy

Like many people, I’m disturbed by the way congressional Republicans have dealt with two big issues affecting children in recent months. The Republicans have allowed a health-insurance program for several million low-income children to lapse and have failed to pass a bill to protect the Dreamers, a group of immigrants brought to the United States illegally as children.
Many Republicans say they favor protecting the Dreamers and extending the health-insurance program, and yet they’ve failed to do so. In recent days, they have cynically used both issues as leverage in the government shutdown.
Given all of this, a big part of me would like to see the Democrats stand firm, accept no compromises and allow the shutdown to go on for as long as it needs to.
But about a decade ago, the writer Matthew Yglesias coined a useful phrase: the pundit fallacy. “The pundit’s fallacy is that belief that what a politician needs to do to improve his or her political standing is do what the pundit wants substantively.”
The best way to protect the children whom the Republicans have put at risk may not actually be a protracted shutdown, in which the Democrats refuse to compromise.
In The Washington Post, Jennifer Rubin argues that the shutdown has had one bipartisan feature: frustration with Trump’s leadership. “As soon as one set of the parties leave the room, he can be spun around by whomever he sees next,” she writes. “This is not flexibility or negotiating prowess; it is a recipe for chaos and a shutdown.”
How Trump-friendly media reacted. Democrats are trying to “use the shutdown to bludgeon, once again, President Trump and the Republicans politically — even though, when you look at the facts and the truth, they have nothing to do with this,” Fox’s Sean Hannity (falsely) claimed on his show. Democrats “are the ones who really in reality are putting illegal immigrants before you, the American people,” he said.
On Sunday, as both the president and the White House accused Democrats of holding government funding for the military “hostage,” the editorial board of The Wall Street Journal praised the administration for refraining from “trying to exploit” the shutdown “for political advantage.”
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