Getting It Right

I like to joke that I am never wrong, then correct myself: oops, yes I was wrong once, that was on March 25, 2008, around ten in the morning. Nonsense, of course. But I do want to say, however arrogant it may appear, that I have been generally right in my political predictions. The point is not to assume a peculiar form of dispensation, but to show that being right requires only a little practice.

Here are just three examples.

1. Terror. Returning to London from a literary symposium at the University of East Anglia in Norwich in mid-June 2005, I entered the Tube station at King’s Cross on the Piccadilly Line and immediately saw that this would be an ideal place for Islamic terrorists to strike. Considering the growing Islamization of the U.K., the atmosphere of threat, the wariness of authorities to move against Islamic supremacism or even to name it, the proliferation of terror preaching imams at radical mosques, and the fact that a heavily trafficked, unsecured public transport site is a perfect venue for urban mayhem, King’s Cross seemed an obvious target. I wrote as much in the then-in-progress manuscript of The Big Lie. The attack occurred shortly afterward, on July 7, 2005. My editor Malcolm Lester had me cancel the passage prior to publication lest readers assume I had inserted it retroactively to surreptitiously affirm my prescience.

2. Obama. I wrote to my Jewish friends -- some of them prominent figures in literature and journalism who were ecstatic over candidate Obama’s comforting July 23, 2008 Sderot address to the Israeli people -- that the man was not to be trusted and would assuredly go back on his word. Although he was riding a wave of popularity and goodwill, I predicted that despite his syrupy phrases and consoling manner he would eventually show his true colors as Israel’s devoted enemy and would do everything he possibly could to harm the Jewish state. All that was needed to arrive at this conclusion was a modicum of research into Obama’s history, his mentorship by Marxists and Muslims reflexively sympathetic to the Palestinian victimhood narrative, and a close reading of body language and exaggerated inflection. My colleagues were amused and not a few disturbed by my evident cynicism. “Israel has a true friend in Obama,” one well-known commentator opined. To another I wrote: “Nothing this fellow says can be believed, not a single syllable. He is a liar from the womb. How can you not see that?” His reply was to accuse me of advanced paranoia.

My debate with Alan Dershowitz, hosted on FrontPage Magazine a few years later, followed the same pattern. Proud of his president for having visited the embattled Israeli town of Sderot and for having Israel’s back, he fell for every lie that escaped Obama’s lips. (As I write this, Obama has perfidiously refused to use the once-reliable American veto in the December 23, 2016 U.N. Security Council resolution against Israeli so-called “settlements,” doing major damage to the Jewish state.) As with many of my Jewish friends, Dershowitz could not admit he was wrong, but merely kept repeating a series of flabby clichés and fixed talking points, never once addressing my arguments showing that Obama was a hypocrite and an enemy-in-friend’s-clothing. It is only quite recently that the redoubtable Dersh has reversed himself, but that is always easier after the fact. “Experts” like Dershowitz, shackled to belief and convinced of superior insight, are people who learn late what was obvious early -- assuming they learn at all. Thinking is harder than rethinking, which is why they are almost never right.

3. Trump. More recently, we lived through the virulent national controversy over Donald Trump’s candidacy, with practically the entire mainstream media, the academic phalanx of administrators, professors and students, the entertainment industry and the political class with scarcely an exception convinced that Trump would go down to inglorious defeat -- and doing everything in their power to bring that humiliation about. Even my wife and son, though pro-Trump, were certain that Hillary could not be beaten. I predicted that Trump would win, despite, as I wrote (in part) in a previous article for PJM, “the rigged vote machines, the legions of the voting dead, the sycophancy of the millennials and entitleds, the rancor of racial and ethnic minorities, women, and public ignorance in general.”

It seemed clear to me that change was in the air, as, I discovered later, it was plain to Ann Coulter in In Trump We Trust: E Pluribus Awesome, America’s premier buffoon Michael Moore (who wished it were otherwise), Mike Cernovich in MAGA MINDSET, Ilana Mercer in The Trump Revolution, and one or two others.

But at the time I seemed alone -- apart from a few prognosticating wizards like economist James Dale Davidson, History professor Allan J. Lichtman in his May, 2016 edition of Predicting the Next President and that panoptic savant Geda the Chinese Monkey -- in my belief that Trump would assuredly win through. I felt that flyover country was now actually touchdown country, that working class America had risen from its slumber and was about to reassert itself, that the exposure of Hillary’s sleazy activities and serial failures would cut into her own demographic, that the fake news, pro-Hillary media were in a self-imposed tailspin, and that Trump’s massive rallies were a sign that a surge of popular resentment of the status quo would be sufficient to overcome the odds against him. Backbone America had grown tired of being swindled, derided, deceived and talked down to by establishment pols and pundits, whatever side of the aisle they inhabited.

On the night of the election, while my wife -- and everyone I knew -- stayed up late glued to the TV screen, I went early to bed, confident in the outcome, and enjoyed a refreshing sleep. In the morning, when I came downstairs for coffee, my red-eyed wife said, “He won!” I replied, “Of course.” “How could you be so sure?” she asked. “Obvious,” I said, unable to refrain from gloating a little.

But the truth is somewhat more modest and explanatory. I don’t have any special insight into the world or some sort of prophetic afflatus enabling me to peer into the future. Education has nothing to do with it and is more likely to be a hindrance than an asset; I regard my university degrees as mere alphabetical excrescences. The fact is, it is not so difficult to “get it right” if one follows a few simple rules.

  • Don’t trust the media, not for a nanosecond; the Fourth Estate is America’s fifth column, working to undermine the Constitution and the republic. “In the old days, men had the rack. Now we have the Press…We are dominated by journalism,” wrote Oscar Wilde in The Soul of Man Under Socialism
  • Maintain a vigorous skepticism of those who profess to know, no matter how touted as eminences in their field -- talking heads, pollsters, editorialists, academics; you are not to be intimidated by another person’s nimbus of superior authority
  • Don’t let surround sound obliterate your inner voice, that is, resist the temptation to subject your solitary judgment to the environing swell of contrary opinion
  • Don’t allow the fear of expected ridicule to obstruct your thinking
  • Avoid the slavish position that Czeslaw Milosz in The Captive Mind, drawing from other sources, characterized as ketman, the desire to be “at one with others, in order not to be alone.” Go your own way, regardless of consequences
  • Do your own research, to the best of your ability without prior assumptions and rely on instinct and common sense, irrespective of hopes, desires and previous convictions

Common sense -- the honest effort to determine fact and apply reason -- is the core of the matter, outranking in the scale of intellectual virtues even the special talents and endowments of the elect. “Common sense will tell us,” wrote Thomas Paine, “that the power which hath endeavoured to subdue us, is of all others, the most improper to defend us.” This is why Hillary and the Democratic Party were destined to lose. Common sense prevailed in this election, and common sense tells us that common sense is not to be regarded as inferior to learned commentary or apparent consensus.  

It works for me, which is why I tend to get it right. Though I must confess that I was also wrong on August 15, 1994, at around 7:30 in the evening.

I like to joke that I am never wrong, then correct myself: oops, yes I was wrong once, that was on March 25, 2008, around ten in the morning. Nonsense, of course. But I do want to say, however arrogant it may appear, that I have been generally right in my political predictions. The point is not to assume a peculiar form of dispensation, but to show that being right requires only a little practice.

Here are just three examples.

1. Terror. Returning to London from a literary symposium at the University of East Anglia in Norwich in mid-June 2005, I entered the Tube station at King’s Cross on the Piccadilly Line and immediately saw that this would be an ideal place for Islamic terrorists to strike. Considering the growing Islamization of the U.K., the atmosphere of threat, the wariness of authorities to move against Islamic supremacism or even to name it, the proliferation of terror preaching imams at radical mosques, and the fact that a heavily trafficked, unsecured public transport site is a perfect venue for urban mayhem, King’s Cross seemed an obvious target. I wrote as much in the then-in-progress manuscript of The Big Lie. The attack occurred shortly afterward, on July 7, 2005. My editor Malcolm Lester had me cancel the passage prior to publication lest readers assume I had inserted it retroactively to surreptitiously affirm my prescience.

2. Obama. I wrote to my Jewish friends -- some of them prominent figures in literature and journalism who were ecstatic over candidate Obama’s comforting July 23, 2008 Sderot address to the Israeli people -- that the man was not to be trusted and would assuredly go back on his word. Although he was riding a wave of popularity and goodwill, I predicted that despite his syrupy phrases and consoling manner he would eventually show his true colors as Israel’s devoted enemy and would do everything he possibly could to harm the Jewish state. All that was needed to arrive at this conclusion was a modicum of research into Obama’s history, his mentorship by Marxists and Muslims reflexively sympathetic to the Palestinian victimhood narrative, and a close reading of body language and exaggerated inflection. My colleagues were amused and not a few disturbed by my evident cynicism. “Israel has a true friend in Obama,” one well-known commentator opined. To another I wrote: “Nothing this fellow says can be believed, not a single syllable. He is a liar from the womb. How can you not see that?” His reply was to accuse me of advanced paranoia.

My debate with Alan Dershowitz, hosted on FrontPage Magazine a few years later, followed the same pattern. Proud of his president for having visited the embattled Israeli town of Sderot and for having Israel’s back, he fell for every lie that escaped Obama’s lips. (As I write this, Obama has perfidiously refused to use the once-reliable American veto in the December 23, 2016 U.N. Security Council resolution against Israeli so-called “settlements,” doing major damage to the Jewish state.) As with many of my Jewish friends, Dershowitz could not admit he was wrong, but merely kept repeating a series of flabby clichés and fixed talking points, never once addressing my arguments showing that Obama was a hypocrite and an enemy-in-friend’s-clothing. It is only quite recently that the redoubtable Dersh has reversed himself, but that is always easier after the fact. “Experts” like Dershowitz, shackled to belief and convinced of superior insight, are people who learn late what was obvious early -- assuming they learn at all. Thinking is harder than rethinking, which is why they are almost never right.

3. Trump. More recently, we lived through the virulent national controversy over Donald Trump’s candidacy, with practically the entire mainstream media, the academic phalanx of administrators, professors and students, the entertainment industry and the political class with scarcely an exception convinced that Trump would go down to inglorious defeat -- and doing everything in their power to bring that humiliation about. Even my wife and son, though pro-Trump, were certain that Hillary could not be beaten. I predicted that Trump would win, despite, as I wrote (in part) in a previous article for PJM, “the rigged vote machines, the legions of the voting dead, the sycophancy of the millennials and entitleds, the rancor of racial and ethnic minorities, women, and public ignorance in general.”

It seemed clear to me that change was in the air, as, I discovered later, it was plain to Ann Coulter in In Trump We Trust: E Pluribus Awesome, America’s premier buffoon Michael Moore (who wished it were otherwise), Mike Cernovich in MAGA MINDSET, Ilana Mercer in The Trump Revolution, and one or two others.

But at the time I seemed alone -- apart from a few prognosticating wizards like economist James Dale Davidson, History professor Allan J. Lichtman in his May, 2016 edition of Predicting the Next President and that panoptic savant Geda the Chinese Monkey -- in my belief that Trump would assuredly win through. I felt that flyover country was now actually touchdown country, that working class America had risen from its slumber and was about to reassert itself, that the exposure of Hillary’s sleazy activities and serial failures would cut into her own demographic, that the fake news, pro-Hillary media were in a self-imposed tailspin, and that Trump’s massive rallies were a sign that a surge of popular resentment of the status quo would be sufficient to overcome the odds against him. Backbone America had grown tired of being swindled, derided, deceived and talked down to by establishment pols and pundits, whatever side of the aisle they inhabited.

On the night of the election, while my wife -- and everyone I knew -- stayed up late glued to the TV screen, I went early to bed, confident in the outcome, and enjoyed a refreshing sleep. In the morning, when I came downstairs for coffee, my red-eyed wife said, “He won!” I replied, “Of course.” “How could you be so sure?” she asked. “Obvious,” I said, unable to refrain from gloating a little.

But the truth is somewhat more modest and explanatory. I don’t have any special insight into the world or some sort of prophetic afflatus enabling me to peer into the future. Education has nothing to do with it and is more likely to be a hindrance than an asset; I regard my university degrees as mere alphabetical excrescences. The fact is, it is not so difficult to “get it right” if one follows a few simple rules.

  • Don’t trust the media, not for a nanosecond; the Fourth Estate is America’s fifth column, working to undermine the Constitution and the republic. “In the old days, men had the rack. Now we have the Press…We are dominated by journalism,” wrote Oscar Wilde in The Soul of Man Under Socialism
  • Maintain a vigorous skepticism of those who profess to know, no matter how touted as eminences in their field -- talking heads, pollsters, editorialists, academics; you are not to be intimidated by another person’s nimbus of superior authority
  • Don’t let surround sound obliterate your inner voice, that is, resist the temptation to subject your solitary judgment to the environing swell of contrary opinion
  • Don’t allow the fear of expected ridicule to obstruct your thinking
  • Avoid the slavish position that Czeslaw Milosz in The Captive Mind, drawing from other sources, characterized as ketman, the desire to be “at one with others, in order not to be alone.” Go your own way, regardless of consequences
  • Do your own research, to the best of your ability without prior assumptions and rely on instinct and common sense, irrespective of hopes, desires and previous convictions

Common sense -- the honest effort to determine fact and apply reason -- is the core of the matter, outranking in the scale of intellectual virtues even the special talents and endowments of the elect. “Common sense will tell us,” wrote Thomas Paine, “that the power which hath endeavoured to subdue us, is of all others, the most improper to defend us.” This is why Hillary and the Democratic Party were destined to lose. Common sense prevailed in this election, and common sense tells us that common sense is not to be regarded as inferior to learned commentary or apparent consensus.  

It works for me, which is why I tend to get it right. Though I must confess that I was also wrong on August 15, 1994, at around 7:30 in the evening.

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