by Donna Brazile
I probably shouldn't say this; it's the definition of biting the hand that feeds me. So I'll say it just once, and hopefully all the newspapers and blogs and television and radio networks will hear: It's time to abolish punditry.
If a single move could restore civility to politics, that is it. Get rid of the left-vs.-right commentators who are just out scoring points for their team. This sort of opinion-mongering is not only boring and predictable, it is destructive of the truth. If your only credentials are "GOP shill" or "Democratic hack," you've no business cluttering up the airwaves or the op-ed pages. My momma always told me that if you don't know what you're talking about, it's best to keep your mouth shut. That's good advice.
Whom do we put in their place? I say replace the pundits with people who have genuine expertise -- whether from their academic work, professional life or personal experience -- on the key issues of the day. Instead of partisan talking heads or mad hatters from the "tea party" preaching their views on, say, health care and taxes, let's hear from doctors and insurance professionals, or the number-crunchers from the Congressional Budget Office. They're much better equipped to help viewers, listeners and readers wade through the facts, arguments and data.
Some pundits could remain as political analysts. (I'm not crazy, am I?) There is insight to be gained from the dark, secret knowledge they hold from their decades pacing the political corridors. But let's not mistake the gallery for the game.
Donna Brazile, a Democratic strategist and campaign manager for Al Gore's presidential bid in 2000, is a frequent on-air contributor to CNN, NPR and ABC. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.