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Robert Waldmann Sends Out an Emergency Call for Karl Popper to Deal with Joe Klein

Briefly, Joe Klein says that modern American politics penalizes experience because in "elections in which control of the presidency has switched parties during the television age... [it is the case that in] five of those six, starting with John F. Kennedy's victory over Richard Nixon in 1960, the less experienced candidate won."

It may or may not be true that modern American politics penalizes experience. But, as Robert Waldmann points out, Joe Klein's "evidence" that this is the case is in fact nothing of the kind:

Robert's Stochastic thoughts: Ezra Klein is too kind to Joe Klein, who discovers a remarkable tautological regularity.... [I]ncumbency of one's party and experience [of one's candidate] are almost perfectly correlated (perfectly correlated if one claims that 5 [years as veep] = 8 [years as veep] as [Klein] does in the case of Nixon and Humphrey).... [A] switch of party would... imply the election of the less experienced candidate.

The observation that... when there was a switch of party the less experienced candidate won adds nothing to our knowledge whatsoever. Joeseph Klein has presented an un-falsifiable hypothesis and drawn conclusions from the failure of the data to refute it. He demonstrates only that he does not reason well, but we already knew that didn't we?

And, of course, in elections in which control of the presidency did not switch parties--1964, 1972, 1984, 1996, 2004--the more "experienced candidate" won.

Why oh why can't we have a better press corps?