Maybe it’s because I’m anticipating ten months of daily exposure to bad political journalism, but Fred Barnes’ big table-setter for 2014 in the Weekly Standard seemed to jump right off my computer screen and cavort idiotically around the room before I subdued it with a mallet.

Nowhere in Fred’s piece about the 2014 elections do you see any reference to midterm turnout patterns or the wildly pro-GOP Senate landscape, which are the two most important reasons for Republican optimism. To read him, the only reason this might be a good as opposed to a bad year for Republicans is Obamacare and the resulting “loss of trust” in the president. Having made that deep argument, Barnes goes on to grind his usual ax about abortion (he wants GOPers to talk about it a lot) and call for a token GOP gesture on immigration, and that’s all we get.

Now Fred’s been writing about politics a whole lot longer than I have, which is saying a lot. And from dealing with him back in the day, I can attest he is far from stupid. So why does he write this sort of stuff? Is a minimal understanding of how, mechanically, elections are won and lost just too complex for the Standard‘s readers? Is it important to the GOP wizards Barnes listens to (I was once at an event where Fred was a panelist, and his cell phone kept going off, and someone finally said: “Fred, Karl Rove really does want you to take his call”) that the faithful go into 2014 convinced victory or defeat hangs on how monomanially they attack Obamacare?

I obviously don’t expect answers to these questions, but it would be nice, for once, to begin an election cycle with a reasonably common set of assumptions about the basics that writers from across the political spectrum stipulate. We’re not off to a good start.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore is a political columnist for New York and managing editor at the Democratic Strategist website. He was a contributing writer at the Washington Monthly from January 2012 until November 2015, and was the principal contributor to the Political Animal blog.