Man Without Qualities

Thursday, March 18, 2004


Until tonight I had thought fairly well of Larry Sabato. But tonight I actually saw and heard him on Fox News state with a completely straight face and in apparent sincerity that the President could help his re-election chances by returning some of his campaign contributions to the donors with the stipulation that the donor use the returned money to create a few new jobs.

I repeat: With a completely straight face and in apparent sincerity.

And everything else he had to say - which wasn't that much - reached about that depth.

MORE: Jim Thomason has further evidence of Larry Sabato's descent into partisan self-parody. Jim is absolutely right. Sabato has gone completely over some partisan edge.

During the 2002 campaign I kept getting the gnawing feeling that Sabato just couldn't see that the Congress was swinging deeply Republican - especially in the last few days of the campaign. It was as if his objective data kept saying that - but he just couldn't allow himself to believe it. That troubled me for someone who holds himself out as independent, disinterested and professional - which was exactly how he was introduced on Fox News. Boy, did they get a surprise.

Sabato seems to have given up. His entire performance on Fox News - his demeanor, his comments, the tone of his voice - seriously suggested someone who has had some kind of breakdown. The reaction look on the face of O'Reilly after Sabato's "give-back-the-money-for-jobs" comments was priceless - and O'Reilly gave Sabato virtually no more time. You could almost hear the thought percolating through O'Reilly's brain after Sabato spoke: "Keep calm, Bill. Must think. Who let this guy in here? Get name. Is this one of those spots where we bring in some loon - like a psychic or Terry McAuliffe - to spice things up? No, no - I just introduced this guy as a no-spin-independent-analyst. O-my-God. Must keep calm."

Maybe all these recent years of political frustration have got to Sabato, who seems to be a serious Democratic partisan under all his posturing - destroying his mind, or at least his analytic political abilities. That is, maybe Larry's political crystal balls are blue. Maybe Larry needs a drink.

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