Spinning my wheels.
Does anybody else ever have weeks or months where the world seems to push back really hard against your conception of it? Where it seems to shake off all your attempts to impose order on its flux?
Blogging has gotten harder for me now that Obama is President. You see, I knew where I stood with George W. Bush. I’m a young guy, and I started trying to form political opinions in the tail end of the Clinton years. My family subscribed to the National Review and the Wall Street Journal, so I began with a baseline of conservative critiques of Clinton. Oddly enough, it was from Clinton’s detractors that I picked up the idea that executive war power should be limited. Somehow, I missed the signal that executive power is awesome when a Republican has it, and my assessment of Bush was ambivalent or negative for the full eight years, though I can’t say I ever viscerally disliked him: I just thought he wasn’t a very good President. But I had an idea of what I thought conservatism was supposed to be about, and, even though it ended up being pretty different from what the Republican Party was trying to do, I think I had pretty good grounds for making sense of policy by the time I started blogging, which was well into Bush’s second term.
But I have to start from scratch with the Obama administration. I’ve never paid attention to a liberal President before — I was doing other things during the Clinton administration, like reading way too many Star Wars novels — so I’m trying to figure out how I should evaluate Obama’s aims and his methods, issue by issue. Which means that I first need good labels for his aims and methods, and there’s a number of possibilities on offer, from the “Afro-centrist Marxism” set to the “competent and pragmatic” set, and that’s what I’m working on now.
I think it’s just my disposition to be this abstract. It might be better to just pick a starting point and make ad hoc modifications as needed, in the hopes that the dialectic of blog-argument will get me to a good place. On the other hand, as Augie March said, “…I don’t like low opinions, and when you speak them out it commits you and you become a slave of them. Talk will lead people on until they convince their minds of things they can’t feel true.”
One reason my post count has been low recently is that I’ve been trying to wait until I’ve worked out some moderately responsible opinions before writing… but maybe it’ll be worthwhile to write through the process of trying to form opinions in an unfamiliar situation. I think we all know which body part opinions are supposed to be like, but responsible opinions seem much harder to come by, at least right now, when the world keeps bucking my expectations.