Progressives have been annoyed, for some time now, that pro-war pundits keep their jobs no matter how often they’re wrong: about Iraq, foreign policy more broadly, or, come to think of it, just about anything else that pops into their heads. Not only that, but said pundits maintain their prestige, as though their reputations exist independent of their work product. Which, I’ll grant you, is quite odd, because a pundit’s words and ideas should be the very foundation of their reputation. If their opinions are rotten, in other words, the foundation should crumble.

Alas, the relationship between cause and effect, in Punditland at least, has apparently been been severed. So it’s not surprising to hear that Bill Kristol is leaving Time for a post at the New York Times, bastion of American liberalism.

Matthew Yglesias writes about this today:

After all, everyone knows that conservative pundits don’t get held accountable for saying tons and tons of wrong stuff — that’s not how it works. Instead, you march through the institutions of conservatism by being loyal to the Cause, and then eventually mainstream organizations decide they need to contain representatives of the Cause and there you are on your perch. So it is in the newsweeklies, so it is on the op-ed pages, and so it is on the Sunday shows.

Now let me be clear: I completely agree with Yglesias (and not just because he linked to us yesterday — thanks!). And I, too, find the phenomenon absolutely maddening. Particularly when it comes to someone like Bill Kristol, who’s nothing but an appendage of the Republican Party: more than a factotum, but far less than a vibrant intellectual. But I wonder: is it only conservatives who are immune from consequences? Or is there just a permanent pundit class?

That’s a serious question, by the way. Are there any recent examples of opinion makers, regardless of where they sit on the political spectrum, who’ve been fired and relegated to obsurity for writing or saying silly things? Rather than, say, being cashiered for calling female basketball players “nappy-headed hos.”

Moving closer to home, are there historians who, after having established for themselves excellent (not just good, mind you) reputations, have completely fallen from grace? Tenure, of course, means that scholars have job security. So I’m thinking more of a case in which someone has truly lost intellectual standing after having once occupied a lofty perch. Such a fall, to make the comparison work, would have to be linked to a huge scholarly blunder — not illegal, immoral, or unethical conduct (which, as everyone knows, is the key to tenure).

Update (12:28 EST): I’ve just edited the first sentence of this post for style. It’s still not great, I know, but I can at least make my way through it now.