Monday, December 23, 2013

Reading: Me and the President

I'm another who has spent more time than he should have this morning measuring his/my own daily reading habits against what Salon so pointedly characterizes as the President's Hack List.  I'd agree with whoever-that-guy-is at Salon that the President's tastes run to the conventional and boring, and it could be an interesting Christmas dinner parlor game (in carefully selected company) to speculate on how far this represents his own tastes and how far the dictates of his spin doctors: myself, I tend to the view converge enough that he himself can't tell them apart, but I am often wrong about this kind of thing.

Anyway, whatever the source, I'm startled at how little overlap between the two of us.  The main point of convergence would be Ezra Klein (inc.) who I,  no mean snarker in my own right, think is a lot better than Salon's snarky dismissal.  The only other overlap is Josh Barro, whom Salon dismisses as the "fantasy" of the "Reasonable Republican."  I don't think that is why I read him; I would say rather that he is genuinely funny and often original--not st all like so many others on the Obama list whose main political identity appears to be "soporific."

Beyond that--you know, on review, I find that my own reading habits have fallen into a shamble lately.  I can identify a bunch of possible reasons.  The simplest is the collapse of Google Reader.  I used to read my morning aggregate the same way Mrs. Buce imbibes her dead-tree New York Times.  Yes, I fired up Feedly as a replacement, but somehow it doesn't seem to work quite the way I remember the other one.  And anyway, the shift was enough to remind me of the emerging plenitude of alternatives.  I have had a Twitter feed for many months although I scarcely ever post (140 characters is just not enough for my subtle and nuanced mind).  For whatever reason, I do find myself checking out what others say there.  I have a Facebook page which has been mostly limited to family snaps and banter with former students, although that seems to be changing (see infra).  I did sign up for Google Plus although I don't suppose I've even looked at it for perhaps a year.    Redditt, Tumblr, nah--hey there has to be some limit to my day.

But beyond mere mechanics: I also join with those who believe that your habits have to change here or you get into a rut. I've said before that I'm spending less time on current events, more on Proust.  Some very good bloggers, even aggregators, just get predictable over time; they're still good, but I don't need them any more. I still read Krugman (I wish Obama read him) but not because I expect to be surprised at what he says: rather, it's more a matter of sheer admiration for his skill as an expositor (confession, I have more than once dazzled a student with some idea or insight that I had just pinched from a Krugman textbook tucked under the table).  I still read DeLong because he is a pretty good aggregator and because, hey, he is (almost) the only bigfoot blogger who ever linked me (I also like the  new site).  I somehow seem to have lost track of Ritholtz--did he get left behind in the move, locked away somewhere  in a a vacated apartment?  And while I think of it, how is Farhad Manjoo enjoying life over at the Wall Street Journal?  Everything okay?

I suppose if I had a current fave, it would be Bruce Bartlett, who uses his Facebook page as a convenient link to all his good stuff.  His taste in music leaves me cold and I do get a little tired of his school yard name-calling.  But he is still the single most clear-headed analyst of tax policy anywhere--and since it all comes down to tax, what more do we need?   

But as I think of it, I suspect the one institutional source I am most likely to read in detail is The Atlantic, particularly The Wire.  If Obama is really looking for a black commentator to read, I can't imagine why he hasn't discovered Ta-Nehshi Coates.  And James Fallows does count as a journalist, right?  He seems to me clear-headed about everything, except for the crazy-assed notion that it is fun to fly airplanes.  And who is this Bump guy?  Does he ever sleep?

Oh, and one final item, although I'm not entirely sure it belongs on this list.  That is: if there is one source I check unfailingly almost every day, and  for which I have no sense of tiring, it would be this.  And no, Mr. President, in case you were wondering, Darrell Issa is not there.


bjdubbs said...

Wow, neocons from top to bottom. Shouldn't be that surprising after NSA/Afghan/Libya, but definitely not what was expected in 2008.

Buce said...

Um, you mean the prez, not me? But what we expected was what we projected on him, not what he told us, yes?

I think he is finding the job a whole lot harder than he ever suspected. But that is probably true of most presidents. And it is the way I felt about being a parent.

Ebenezer Scrooge said...

I don't mind snarking Klein & Co., but at least Pareene should have snarked them for the right reason. Young Ezra has shown some dangerous signs of toking powerful readers, rather than informing the rest of us.

And of course, our host's comment was spot-on. Obama told us, even in the 2008 primary, that his ambition was to be the Second Black Republican President. George Bush was also pretty forthcoming on his economics in 2000, although not so much his foreign policy. (Although to give Bush some credit, he arguably put his foreign policy in a blind trust administered by Dick Cheney until 2006, and then fulfilled his campaign promises, insofar as he still could do so.)