The `Experts': Who Are They?

Self-proclaimed political experts are, as any Massachusetts citizen knows, a dime a dozen. There's no tax on insights, and pithy political sayings are free to all who can think them up.

So why is it that some people--men with names like Linsky, Watanabe, DiNatale and Champion--are singled out by the media for their latest thoughts on the campaign and the candidates? What makes them different?

For some, it's experience: Champion has been an insider in state and national politics for the last 40 years. For others, it's academic background: Watanabe has a masters and a Ph.D. from Harvard in government. Others were "players" at one time themselves: Martin Linsky, for example, was an unsuccessful candidate for lieutenant governor several years ago.

What they all have in common is the ability to crush their nebulous thoughts into diamonds of political wisdom. Los Angeles Times political analyst William Schneider calls it the talent of "being pithy" and Kennedy School Lecturer Hale Champion calls it "info-tainment."

The following are several examples of pre-election campaign "diamonds" which found their way into local newspapers:

.George Bachrach, Democratic activist: "Weld is a cork floating in John Silber's ocean. He had no control over this race. It was all John Silber."--Nov. 8 in the Boston Globe

.Paul Watanabe, UMass/Boston political scientist: "You've got the usual party affiliations blurred beyond recognition... It screws up all the usual calculations."--Nov. 5 in the Boston Herald

.Lou DiNatale, senior associate at the McCormack Institute at UMass/Boston, after the second televised Weld-Silber debate: "It was the night before Halloween and people were waiting for him to scare them, but he didn't."--Oct. 31 in the Boston Herald

.Independent pollster John Gorman, of Opinion Dynamics in Cambridge: "For $4 million, [Jim Rappaport has] convinced half the electorate he's a bad person."--Nov. 6 in the Boston Herald.