Politico’s “Political Caucus” is one of my favorite destinations for 2016 political coverage. It’s a running series of weekly interviews with a fixed roster of political “insiders” who offer their allegedly unguarded takes on the 2016 election from behind the protective shield of anonymity. I love it because, despite the promise of juicy details from behind the curtain, reading it will teach you nothing about the way politics works or how the presidential campaigns are doing. The Political Caucus does, however, stands a stark and unassailable case that people identified as political “insiders” are utterly useless.
As I wrote in February, the Republican “insiders” who participate in Politico’s caucus spent months and months confidently (and wrongly) predicting that Donald Trump’s collapse was imminent. And even after Trump finished second in Iowa and blew away the field in New Hampshire, the “insiders” were still singing that same tune, despite the fact that Trump was only getting stronger with each passing day. These people who were supposed to have the inside track on Republican politics were completely wrong, and they stayed wrong for weeks on end because they wouldn’t allow the reality of what was happening intrude on their preferred understanding of how the party worked.
Now that Trump has been installed as the nominee, a different flavor of uselessness has emerged from the “insiders” in the Political Caucus. Instead of standing stubbornly behind incorrect takes on the status of the race, Politico’s Republican “insiders” are now just lurching wildly from one news cycle to the next, allowing the rapidly shifting conventional wisdom stand in for their assessment of the Trump campaign.
Let’s take a look at the last several weeks of GOP Political Caucus takes on Trump, stretching back to just before the Republican National Convention:
July 18: “GOP insiders dreading Trump’s convention.” Per Politico, its gaggle of Republican insiders “are dreading the Republican convention in Cleveland this week,” and “numerous insiders compared the convention to a train wreck or car accident.”
July 22: “GOP insiders: Trump nailed it.” Just four days after the “insiders” fretted that the Republican National Convention would be a grisly automotive accident of some variety, Trump’s speech accepting the nomination drew “accolades from a number of GOP political insiders who had doubted his competence to lead the Republican ticket this fall.”