Toward a Fraudulent Populism



I wanted to double down on this post about Nate Silver from yesterday and point out something in Dylan Byers's column that really should have been left on the cutting floor (emphasis added):
For all the confidence Silver puts in his predictions, he often gives the impression of hedging. Which, given all the variables involved in a presidential election, isn't surprising. For this reason and others -- and this may shock the coffee-drinking NPR types of Seattle, San Francisco and Madison, Wis. -- more than a few political pundits and reporters, including some of his own colleagues, believe Silver is highly overrated.
I just want to say that this is the most bizarre slur I have ever read, and seems to be the sort of thing you write when you're really grasping. I think it's meant to evoke the kind of effete intellectualism which you see targeted in a piece like this one from Dean Chambers:
Nate Silver is a man of very small stature, a thin and effeminate man with a soft-sounding voice.
I don't really know. Anyway, Byers goes on to quote David Brooks and Joe Scarborough, manly-men who can't find San Francisco on a map and are so macho that they chew coffee beans whole, leaving the French press for you wimpy-ass, Terry Gross-listening, Steve Urkel-looking motherfuckers.

Look, I'm nobody's tough guy. But as someone who spent a significant portion of my life seeking ways to not get punched in the face, it's really amazing how much interaction -- even now -- boils down to, as Chris Rock would say, "Can you kick my ass?"

I want to be careful to not conflate Dean Chambers's direct invocation of manly manliness with Byers's more oblique reference. But I think the point holds true. Silver's work is humiliating to people who are little more than gossipmongers. The response is to accuse them of listening to public radio and living in Seattle.
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Ta-Nehisi Coates is a national correspondent at The Atlantic, where he writes about culture, politics, and social issues. He is the author of the memoir The Beautiful Struggle.

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