Monday, July 10, 2006

Rewarding Good Behavior

I really want to postpone most discussion of presidential politics until at least November of this year, but let me break with that desire for a moment.

There are a bunch of politicians who will run for president, some of whom are generally liked by the type of people who read blogs like this and some of whom aren't. Those politicians tend to do the kinds of things politicians do. They give speeches, they hold fundraisers for themselves and others, they sponsor legislation, they appear on the teevee, they write opeds, etc... Sometimes those politicians will do and say things I like. They might be doing those things that I like because they are operating out of some core convinction, or they may be pandering to people like me, or as is usually the case some combination of the two. They are politicians. Politicians do politics. Some readers might perceive the fact that I say something nice about a potential candidate as some implicit endorsement of their candidacy, or be concerned that my saying nice things about someone they don't like might increase their chances of being the presidential nominee by .00000000000001% or something.

It's important to remember that the presidential primary season isn't just about electing a nominee. It's also when we have a national conversation about the direction of the party. Candidates will be pulled in various directions on issues by the people they're trying to please and by members of the media with their inevitably bad avice, and will also be pulling at each other. Some candidates will enter the race almost entirely to try to shift the debate in a certain direction.

If I see politicians moving in a direction I like, I believe in praising them for their good behavior. It's important to do so. I'm not going to weigh all my words about them based on some silly calculation about their marginal impact on their chances to be a candidate for president.

I have no idea if I'll ever decide to throw the massive power of my mighty blog behind a single presidential candidate. It's possible, but odds are I'll do what I did in 2004 and generally express my opinions about the unfolding process as it happens. And, yes, that includes praising candidates who aren't necessarily near the top of my list if they do things I like.