Monday, January 23, 2006

Teddy Bearable?

Glen's father wrote to say that I judged Teddy Roosevelt too harshly in my post about The Proud Tower. I emailed back, in relevant part,
As I said in my blog post, I grant that T.R. had his virtues. Foremost among them I would put one you did not mention: His remarkably (for his day) integrationist views on race. I also have [to] credit him with great vigor. But nothing constitutes a virtue if done to excess or toward the wrong ends. And--just one guy talking, here--T.R. too often acted without apparent reflection (excepting, perhaps, calculations of political self-interest) and without respect for others' rights. So, like your son, I do not smile on the laundry list of T.R.'s accomplishments.

In contrast to T.R., as you recognize, I bloviate far more than I act. But I think it's OK to live peaceably, do your job, raise decent kids, and enjoy life. I'm willing to bet you've done pretty much the same thing--I certainly won't fault you with T.R.'s "accomplishments"!--and that, quite rightly, you feel pretty good about it.

And, as I think we both agree, pursuing a quiet life by no means bars anyone from critiquing those who live louder ones. I get to take potshots at T.R., and you get to take potshots at me. That constitutes a fair price for mouthing off.

In fairness to Mr. Whitman, he did not actually come out and say I bloviate more than I act. He only implied as much, by asking what I'd done besides bloviate on blogs. As it turns out, at any rate, I do a great deal more than bloviate on blogs. I bloviate in other media, too! I write law review articles, book reviews, policy analyses, various materials to supplement my classes, expert witness opinions, and consulting reports, not to not mention (if I might put an accurate spin on that tired lead-in, since I am, after all, mentioning) patents, music,and grocery lists.

Most recently, I wrote a short paper titled, The Impact of Blogging on the Practice of Law: Hit the Snooze Button, soon to appear in the legal journal of commentary, Nexus. Therein, appropriately enough, I wrote, "Blogs seem tailor-made to suit academics like me, offering as they do a cheap and easy way to bloviate before the world without suffering an editor's interference." So, while you might fault me for public bloviating, you cannot fault me for denying it.

None of that makes me a Teddy Roosevelt, excerpt perhaps in the "blowhard" category. I did not, after all, violate individual rights and trammel the U.S. Constitution whilst sucking on the tax teat. I guess I am simply not destined for greatness.

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