Honest Commentary

Honest Commentary

Two events on Thursday have prompted me to do a little blogging about blogging today. More specifically, to say a word about what I’m doing here.

The first was a glance yesterday at my Facebook page. This is the professional one, where the only business I do is the business of talking about politics and policy (so, sorry, but no cute pictures of my kids or grandkids . . . and no embarrassing photos of me or others, either!).

My eye fell once again on a comment posted by a visitor a month ago, demanding that I declare myself to be “left or right.”

The other was a phone call from the local ABC affiliate asking if I would assist with their election night coverage next Tuesday, when voters in Pinellas County will decide who will represent Florida’s 13th Congressional District, where the late Congressman C. W. Bill Young had served since 1970.

My “media career” as a “political analyst” has covered a fairly extensive waterfront. I have appeared on the Today Show (from Tampa; I haven’t gotten a trip to the Big Apple out of it), all of the major network affiliates in Tampa Bay (including Univision), and various other radio and TV broadcasts, including some international moments. I’ve been quoted in both the Tampa Tribune and the Tampa Bay Times many more times than I can count, as well as an interesting assortment of other print publications across the country.

That’s not necessarily because I’m great . . . it simply may be because I’m qualified and cooperative. I believe that, as a beneficiary of society’s investment in higher education, I have a professional duty to make such expertise as I have available when the request is reasonable and can be met without unreasonable costs.

Another reason may be that, to the best of my ability, I approach each interview with a sincere effort to examine the situation from multiple perspectives and not to prosecute any particular political agenda, partisan or otherwise. I presume that’s why I have appeared repeatedly on the FOX affiliate as well as the ABC affiliate, and why I am quoted in both of the Bay area’s papers, whose editorial preferences are fairly divergent.

I think that’s my mission. In an era in which so many sources are avowedly partisan or ideological and make no effort to balance their presentations, there’s a need for balanced inquiry.  Indeed, if the goal is an informed community of public servants and an informed electorate, that need is desperate. Because neither the right nor the left, neither the Democrats nor the Republicans, neither the business community nor labor . . . none of the “sides” of any divide we might imagine have a monopoly on truth.

And neither do I.

I have convictions. I have preferences. And, undoubtedly (and much to my embarrassment, when I encounter them), I have prejudices.

Sometimes, those personal traits are the driving force behind what I write, as they were in the case of the Pasco movie theater shooting and AOL’s rationalization for cutting employee retirement benefits.