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You have an opinion, but do you have what it takes to be heard?

Robert Lehrman
Washington, DC

Robert Lehrman

I've published four novels. But as a political speechwriter, I've never been able to regularly express my political views under my name.

'I love you back!'

Editor's note: The contestants were given free rein for their second post of the day. You can read Robert Lehrman's earlier post here.

 

Someone in crowd: "We love you!"

 

Obama, pretending surprise, grinning: "I love you back!"

 

If I hear that one more time, I swear.  I'm gonna plotz.

 

Today, someone asked me: why does he have to do that? Was this the product of our rockstar culture?  Shouldn't the president be at home reading CIA briefings instead of striding onstage, doing the finger point, and draping arms around his reluctant wife and nervous kids?

 

Well, no.  He has to do the rallies. That's how you win.  They're the display windows that bring us inside the store. He screams "I love you!" in California and we see it instantly in Washington. We get excited. More likely to think Dems will win. More likely to send a check. More likely to vote.  

 

This pundit contest is also a kind of display.  Instead of a band we have catchy ledes and headlines, and maybe a funny story because we want you to pay attention - and vote on Election Day, which for us is tomorrow.

 

But here's my guess.  It's a guess since I don't know the other nine finalists.  I'd bet none of us like the voting.  How in the world could the Post say, as one editor has, that personal network is not "essential"?

 

It is. I'll bet that of the 8000 or so votes of the top five, maybe a few hundred were people we didn't know, who clicked in, read through what we wrote, and made a decision.  The others were favors.  Next year the Post should find a test that's relevant.

 

And what's relevant? The posts.  We do the rally part - the flurry of e-mails, the Facebook notes, the moral decisions ("Do I do friends? Or friends of friends?") to get to the other.

 

Supposedly, when Bobby Knight, that feisty and kind of crazy basketball coach got hired at Indiana, the alumni association sent him a telegram.  "Congratulations!  We're with you win--or tie."

 

Whether it's basketball, politics, or this contest, you try to win. But in basketball winning is the only point. Here, and in politics, it's what winning lets you do.  Which is why it's worth thinking about. Why a cerebral Harvard law school grad should set about learning how to roll up sleeves, drop his g's, do the fingerpoint, and scream, "I love you back!" at perfect strangers.  

 

And why ten people will set aside some time, conquer their uneasiness, ask a favor of hundreds of friends--and maybe even friends of friends. 

 

But "I love you?" Not in a blog. Not yet.   

 

Read more posts from this round. See what the judges are saying. And cast your vote on Friday.     

By Robert Lehrman  |  October 21, 2010; 5:41 PM ET  | Category:  Blogging Challenge
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Thanks for the clarification, MSJS.

Posted by: martymar123 | October 22, 2010 1:17 PM
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The competitive aspect of politics is troublesome to me. With this piece, I have to add Bob's view of success as a blogger. I am not looking for pizzazz and controversy just for the sake of popularity. I would like to read a pundit who speaks to my intellect and has a new way of thinking about an issue. A little humor at the appropriate point, however, is always good.

Posted by: HopefulCynic1 | October 22, 2010 11:58 AM
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The one honest man speaks in the desert. You are of course 100% correct. I wish you well.

Posted by: chucky-el | October 22, 2010 10:44 AM
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Writing a contest column about being in the contest is kind of like writing a rock song about being a rock singer. In the end, what new insights has it taught us?

In this case, I guess I just don't find the topic of "what winning lets us do" all that substantial. It would have been more interesting if he'd explored the subject of whether it's necessary for a 21st-century president to go "rockstar."

Posted by: UponFurtherReview | October 22, 2010 10:36 AM
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Apparently one's Facebook url and Twitter handle had to accompany the initial entry this year, Martymar.

Posted by: MsJS | October 22, 2010 9:04 AM
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Agree with MSJS. It's not punditry the Post is after; it's site traffic.

It's my understanding that this year, the contestants had to belong to Facebook to enter. Is that correct?

Regardless, I enjoyed this piece. Good perspective. I have not decided who to vote for, or whether to vote.

Posted by: martymar123 | October 22, 2010 6:56 AM
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Maybe you don't love me, but I love this post. Good parallels.

Social network popularity is yet another thing that we now have to weed through in order to find a person's mettle. And, this weeding takes a lot of work from the voters, something most people aren't willing to do at the end of a work day. Maybe we are too stressed or too lazy to take on this task. Ideally we wouldn't have to...

Posted by: jhones | October 21, 2010 9:02 PM
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In this contest it's always been more about attracting eyeballs and less about punditry.

The author must have wanted this, or at least thought he did. Otherwise, why enter? Am I sensing some regret with that decision?

Posted by: MsJS | October 21, 2010 6:41 PM
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