Penultimate Pundit Ponders Interconvention Tension By PETER SOLOMON

Friday August 06, 2004

It’s a tough game, newspaper reporting, especially when you want to be meaningful. But sometimes you get lucky.  

This morning, sitting at a bus stop near our office, I recognized—despite a clever disguise—none other than Mark Chain, the Penultimate Pundit.  

“Waiting for the 43?,” I asked, sitting down next to him. But the sharp-eyed analyst remembered me. 

“You’re with the Daily Planet,” he snapped. “You don’t take buses any more than I do.” Clearly, he was working undercover, seeking an ordinary citizen. However, after some flattery, he reluctantly agreed to an interview, on the condition that I not reveal his disguise. 

DP: You seem a little low. Do you have the interconvention blues? 

MC: No—it’s a good time of year pundit wise. We have post-convention momentum or “bounce,” and preconvention excitement, and razor thin margins and last minute voters and all that stuff we keep barrels full of.  

DP: And how do you see things?. 

MC: Too close to call.  

DP: Neck and neck? A dead heat? A real race? 

MC: Did I say that? No. Too close to call. You want to know why it’s too close to call? 

DP: Why is it too close to call? 

MC: That’s a good question. It’s too close to call because otherwise there wouldn’t be any need for strenuous, costly campaigning, with lots of premium priced cash-only newspaper and television advertising, no need for extensive coverage brought to you by, and—worst of all—no need for pundits. Even a subpundit can figure this out, so we always say it’s too close to call. 

DP: So you’re not blue. How about the Greens? 

MC: Greens are best cooked as lightly as possible. Boiling can wash away important nutrients. 

DP: No. I mean the party. 

MC: Oh, they’re a dead giveaway at a party. If you see chunks of iceberg lettuce with orange colored sauce on it, get out—you’re in the wrong place. And if they’re serving that little frizzly stuff that sticks in your throat, they probably expect you to write a big check. 

DP: No, no. I mean the Green Party—they back Ralph Nader. 

MC: Don’t show on my radar screen, I can tell you that. Let me check—Vegetarian Party, Prohibition Party, American Independent Party, Peace and Freedom Party, Hopewell Party of Eight. . . nope. Did you know that if Ralph Nader’s middle initial was “X” his name would be a perfect anagram for Red Phalanx? 

DP: Did you know that if you take the “n” out of “pundits” it’s a perfect anagram for “stup. . . “. . 

MC: But we never take the “n” out – we use as many n words as we can; it’s part of the Pundits’ Creed. 

DP: The Pundits’ Creed? 

MC: Well, since you asked 

Nonvoters need new names 

Never negate nuclear neighbors 

nor nonplus nubile naysayers..  

Not nodding, not napping 

Never nugatory. 

Nimbly neologizing!  

Pundits! Pundits! Rah! Rah! Rah! 

DP: I think that’s my bus coming.