Thursday, December 2, 2004

Coffee with the Pundits

On a regular basis, I sit down and have coffee with David Broder. He’s about my age and we have some prejudices in common which always makes for better understanding on contentious issues. David Talks, I listen. It’s pretty one-sided. My coffee at hand (cream and two sugars), David’s words appear first on my computer screen and then enunciate themselves as my brain’s spoken words.

That’s both the strength and weakness of the opinion column as an argument---it’s a conversation with one’s self and devoid of the give and take, point and counterpoint of debate. If I don’t take David or Maureen Dowd (maybe especially Maureen) or Tom Friedman too literally, they suit me better and I come away wondering about some of my own positions. Whatever the particular horse they ride that day, I’m likely to run it through my bullshit filter in the shower or walking the dog.

Which suits me.

I write these things as well as read them and from time to time I wonder if my readers feel I’m a know-it-all or at least seem that way in print. Perhaps it depends upon what a columnist’s expectation is. Mine is a hope that this or that subject will elicit a response that mirrors conversation if we were to have conversation---a sort of well, you may be right but it seems you’ve entirely ignored the fear factor! That, if I had my way, would be an entirely satisfactory response. Perfect fodder for the shower or dog-walking.

Miraculously, I have these coffee-klatches way over here in central Europe, usually conversing with Bill Raspberry or Richard Cohen while they’re still in bed, a half-dozen hours behind my time zone. I say miraculously because when I first came here to live in January of ’93 there was no e-mail, nor were the newspapers available by computer. It’s amazing how quickly we become accustomed to miracles and turn our attention to grumbling over loading times.

But thank you all, you cyber-pundits and I’ll see you tomorrow around 10am for coffee.

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