Thursday, September 3, 2009

Blogging as bloviating

For a while I blogged rarely at Talking Points Memo, also as DairyStateDad. (I'm still registered there, I think, but I gave up political blogs around the time of the election and try to stay as far away from them as an AA member stays from taverns. Usually.)

In a fit of nostalgia I was looking over my posts there. Many never garnered any comments, others only one or two. But this one resulted in an amazing 229!

It was early May of 2008. Obama was the all-but-declared winner. My question was, how would he gracefully not offer the VP nomination to Hillary Clinton without risking the wrath of her loyalists? Well, you can bet that set off a lively bar fight, as people speculated on her inevitability as VP, or, alternatively, who would be chosen in her place. (No one--no one--in that thread predicted Biden. And no one suggested she might by Secretary of State. Oh... and in retrospect the fact that some seriously proposed Edwards [this was before his admission of the affair with Rielle Hunter] is breathtaking.)

OK, old news. Among other things it was a reminder about how much vicious enmity there was at times between Obama and Clinton supporters at the height of the primary race. That seems so 2008.

But the amusing part is the amount of energy people (self included) put into making arcane predictions and complicated calculations, and all of it best forgotten within months.

To be sure, the blogosphere wasn't alone in being rife with so much wrong-headed speculation. The mainstream media does it all the time, too. (Think of the obituaries some were writing for the Democrats in early June of '08.) As a journalist I tend to be cautious about predictions, although one editor keeps trying to get me to lighten up: "If you're right you'll look like a genius. If you're wrong no one will ever remember."

It's human nature to speculate to no end, for political junkies, sports junkies, the followers of Hollywood gossip or even those oh-so-serious of us who try to dope out what's going on in world affairs.

And sometimes the speculators get very, very lucky. True story: I worked at a Gannett paper in Rochester, N.Y., 25 years ago. Gannett had just bought the Detroit News. One of my colleagues was absolutely convinced that the then-editor of the Rochester paper would be tapped to run the News. He knew I had sources who might be aware of that prospect; I checked and they had heard absolutely nothing. Months later, however, that's exactly what happened.

Which brings me to, so what?

Initially I planned to wind this up with a puffed-up promise that this blog would be different and that this post would stand as a peremptory challenge to myself not to fall into that trap. But who am I kidding? And why limit myself? So I won't swear-off speculative bloviating entirely. I'll just remind myself that, of all the sub-genres of blogging, as fun as it is, it's probably among the least useful. Unless, of course, I turn out to be right and end up looking like a genius.

1 comment:

  1. In the interests of full disclosure, I always identify my blog as "An Eclectic Journal of Opinion, Poetry and General Bloviating." Folks can't say they weren't warned


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