Via Dan Drezner, Newsweek conventional wisdom machine Howard Fineman has published a typically insipid column on MSNBC.com on "winners" and "losers" from the Jack Abramoff plea agreement. His prediction of a reformist third party winning the 2008 election "going away" is especially absurd:
WINNERSThird-party reform movement: If Sen. John McCain doesn't win the Republican presidential nomination, I could see him leading an independent effort to "clean up" the capital as a third-party candidate. Having been seared by his own touch with this type of controversy (the Keating case in the '80s, which was as important an experience to him as Vietnam), McCain could team up with a Democrat, say, Sen. Joe Lieberman. If they could assemble a cabinet in waiting -- perhaps Wes Clark for defense, Russ Feingold for justice, Colin Powell for anything -- they could win the 2008 election going away.
With this prediction (which I've debunked many times), Fineman joins the ranks of Mickey Kaus, Ron Brownstein, the Philadelphia Inquirer, and many other pundits in failing to appreciate or even understand the barriers that make it virtually impossible for third parties to win. Shouldn't political writers have to understand freshman-level political science?