New York magazine's political writer and frequent MSNBC guest John Heilemann confidently predicted in the December 3 issue that United Nations ambassador Susan Rice would be the next Secretary of State. That issue's table of contents put it starkly: "John Heilemann on why, John McCain be damned, Susan Rice will be the next secretary of State."
Or perhaps not. On Thursday afternoon, NBC reported that Rice had withdrawn her name from consideration for the position, citing "a confirmation process that was very prolonged, very politicized, very distracting and very disruptive."
Heilemann fumed at the GOP before he ventured forth with his spirited prediction.
Beyond the spectacle of gratuitous spleen-venting, does any of this Republican fulmination matter in the least -- or, as the headline of a recent Maureen Dowd column in the Times put it, “Is Rice Cooked?” As a rule, your columnist avoids predictions, but in the spirit of holiday indulgence, I will make an exception here: Not only will Obama appoint Rice to succeed Clinton but she will be confirmed. And though I offer this forecast without the aid of polling averages to lend a patina of statistical certainty to the endeavor, I do believe there are at least five sound reasons to think it will come true.
We'll skip the details of Heilemann's discredited analysis, but here are his headings:
1. Because every piece of available evidence suggests Obama wants her in the job.
2. Because Rice is manifestly qualified for the job.
3. Because nothing she did with respect to Benghazi disqualifies her from the job.
4. Because McCain is being a jackass – and Obama is sick of it.
5. Because if McCain insists on pressing that fight, Obama will win.
Heilemann concluded: "Which is why I estimate there is a 79.4357 percent probability that Susan Rice will be confirmed early next year as secretary of State, and the vote won’t even be close. Just remember: You read it here first – and Nate Silver ain’t got nothing on me."
Actually, Nate Silver, the New York Times' poll analyst, does have something on you – his predictions were actually correct.
The lesson? Beware of politicized predictions, especially ones that come with bullet points. MSNBC journalist David Shuster offered three reasons Karl Rove "will, in fact, be indicted" on the May 8, 2006 edition of "Countdown With Keith Olbermann."