Thursday, September 07, 2006

The Value of Creative and Persuasive Political Writers

Responding to a debate raging among a few local bloggers, Roger Abramson wrote the following:

Sure, sarcasm and petulance may be a lot more fun, but if the real goal is to affect real change, it's precisely the worst way to go. We live in a representative democracy: that means you need to get a majority of people (and often more than that) on your side to get anything done.

It doesn't seem to occur to many political bloggers and commentators these days that one can engage issues for the purpose of persuasion. Too many, perhaps most, writers nowadays seem to opine with the only goal being to receive rhetorical high fives from those already in agreement with them. This has led to a political culture that often divides heatedly and manages to be intellectually vacuous at the same time.

Some time ago an acquaintance of mine said that her favorite political writer was Molly Ivins. My mouth gaped. My surprise did not result from the fact that she liked a liberal -- I knew that my friend described herself as a political liberal, and I would not have been taken back if she had said she liked Ivins because she got in a good zinger every now and then. But, her favorite? The shock came from knowing that this person was intelligent, highly educated, and artistically gifted, yet she said that her "favorite" was a writer who has managed to master the craft of artless predictability. I would expect my friends to react the same way if I said that my favorite writer was Ann Coulter. Does Coulter sometimes say things I agree with, and do so with an enjoyable moxie? Sure. My favorite? I hate to sound like a snob, but, frankly, that's beneath me.

Among both bloggers and professional journalists, there are many whose views can be fully known by the end of the headline. There are relatively few writers, on either the left or the right, who go about their craft with creativity, intelligence, and persuasiveness. Once found, they become a reader's best friends.


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