In principle, public intellectuals should have something interesting to say, ideally not just interesting because ridiculous or incredibly stupid. The ideal P.I. might have a special area of expertise and apply that to current events and questions, or whatever struck his fancy.. He might have a wide range of interests and make connections that others can’t see. He might be smart, or independent minded, or both. It would be nice if he had a decent predictive track record, better than a dart board. He should be stubborn enough to resist currently fashionable errors.
As for ideology, that’s a poor substitute for understanding how things actually work.
In my opinion, elegant prose isn’t very important.
He probably does all this for $25 dollars a day and expenses, mostly gasoline and whiskey. That’s about all he’s going to get, because there’s not much demand for analysts, as opposed to cheerleaders.
If most PIs are schlockmeisters, that’s because of popular demand. Bullshit walks.
I invite nominations: either a P.I. that is actually good-for-something (if you can find one), or give an amusingly damning quote for one of the vast majority of vile drones.