Of course, no attempt to distill the race’s meaning for readers would be complete without a ten-point list, and the San Franscisco Chronicle’s politics blog helpfully provides one to explain why the election “is very, very important.” Along with all the obvious points, it offers this tidbit:
5. This is where the Boston Tea Party took place. New England “patriots” rebelled against high taxes by dumping tea into Boston Harbor some 235 years ago. Now, the new generation of “Tea Party patriots” is hoping to dump candidates (Democrat and Republican) who raise taxes and increase federal spending. Again, a big symbolic thing.
So what are we to make of all this? The urge to speculate is natural, and some — maybe much — of this pre-game commentary may prove to be on the mark. And this is not a case of the press hyping an unimportant event: whatever its other ramifications, a Brown win would clearly alter the political calculus on Capitol Hill.
Still, it would be nice to see the press try to exercise a little more restraint when it comes to offering predictions about the meaning of events — if for no other reason than that, however astute and well-informed they seem at the moment, they have a disturbing tendency to be proved wrong. As Jonathan Bernstein put it recently, while discussing fallout from the Massachusetts race: “Sometimes, the best prognostication anyone can give is: wait around and see.”