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Today I had lunch with Howard Fineman, an Editor of Newsweek and Colgate alumnus. He came back to give a talk (which I also attended) on the Watson Fellowship, but Judy Fischer (the woman at Career Services who organized his trip) invited people from The Maroon-News and the Washington DC study group to come to lunch at the President's house (which means I've now met Jane Pinchin and therefore have no need to skip band practice for the AMS dinner with her).

What struck me was how well everyone else there knew what was going on. They were all up on the personalities and politics of Washington and the media (print, radio, and TV). They asked him insightful questions that I wouldn't begin to have the background information to ask. I get self-righteous sometimes about the "Colgate bubble" and how people here don't know what's happening in the world, but I really have no right to talk. I'm lucky if I can get through the Nation and Opinion sections of the Washington Post every day. I don't think I've ever really watched CNN.

And these people had opinions about all these things. This may sound bizarre coming from someone who was Commentary Editor for two years and still writes a weekly political column, but I really don't have strong opinions. There have only been a handful of commentaries -- the Gay Boy Scouts one from last year and this year's stem cell piece -- that I really had clear pre-existing opinions on. Usually I identify an issue, then try to figure out which side I can argue (which has led me into some really bad devil's advocate commentaries). I fully expect to read back over my old commentaries in a few years and toss them one by one into the circular file.

This all leads me to ask why I'm The Maroon-News' most consistent political commentator. At a place like Colgate, my columns ought to be the first to get cut for space or quality. The only problem is, all the better potential commentaries never actually get written. This isn't me complaining about how we don't have good writers. My point is that I got a good dose of reality today.


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