Here’s an interesting question, posed by my friend Jon Rauch. The Senate Republicans have vowed to push their anti-gay marriage amendment, even though it won’t stand a chance of getting the necessary 67 votes. The point is political and rhetorical. They are trying to build momentum, raise money, and keep the cause of banning same-sex unions alive. So why not push an anti-abortion amendment instead? They have one such amendment on hand. Both proposed amendments are allegedly against judicial meddling. Both will fail. But one deals with a much graver issue, by the religious right’s reckoning – an immense loss of human life, rather than the grave evil of two human beings committing to one another for life. So why this priority? Surely, abortion is a more important matter than same-sex marriage – even for the religious right. Or is it?

THE DISH AS YOU’VE KNOWN IT: After much hemming and hawing, I’ve decided to put the blog as you’ve known it on hiatus for a few months. The Dish will still exist, the site will be updated weekly with new feature articles, and I’ll still post when I feel like it. But it won’t have the regularity or content of the past four and a half years. Why? The simple answer is that I want to take a breather, to write a long-overdue book, to read some more, travel to Europe and the Middle East, and work on some longer projects. Much as I would like to do everything, I’ve been unable to give the blog my full attention and make any progress on a book (and I’m two years behind). It’s not so much the time as the mindset. The ability to keep on top of almost everything on a daily and hourly basis just isn’t compatible with the time and space to mull over some difficult issues in a leisurely and deliberate manner. Others might be able to do it. But I’ve tried and failed. Besides, this is my fifth year of daily blogging – I was doing this when Clinton was president and Osama bin Laden was largely unknown – and I’ve always thought it’s a good idea to quit something after around five years or so. Before it becomes a chore. Before you become numb. No, it’s not a response to criticism. I’m a big boy and have provoked critics from the minute this blog started. I deserve much of what I get. And to tell you the truth, I rather enjoy the heat and will miss some of kitchen. But over two million words is a good enough mile-stone to ease up for a while. And getting through the US and Iraq elections seems to me as fair a time to take a leave as any. So I’m going to turn this into a far more occasional operation for a while. I’ll keep posting when the feeling grabs me; but I’m no longer going to promise the kind of daily attention to the news that I have practised so far. I hope that after, say, nine months, I’ll return to blogging full-steam with perhaps a new direction or approach to refresh the material. A little distance from the blogosphere might be helpful in that as well.

THANKS: But before I switch gears, I do want to express my deepest gratitude to the man who made all this possible: Robert Cameron, a dear friend, who handled all the technical, financial and organizational stuff so I could focus on writing. I’d also like to thank my readers. I know I’ve maddened and delighted, inspired and infuriated, provoked and calmed, irritated and moved you. I know this because you’ve told me in what now amount to hundreds of thousands of emails. I’ve made friends with people I have never met. I’ve learned more from your emails than I ever would from merely reading the papers. I am immeasurably grateful for that – and for the financial support that has kept this blog alive and well. Five years ago, I wanted to prove that a lone writer could carve out a readership as influential as any political magazine, dispense with editors, and make a living. It took a while, but it happened. I also wanted to experiment with a new kind of writing-in-real-time – more free-form, colloquial, confessional and open. Others can judge whether I’ve achieved that. But I can surely say it’s been one of the most challenging, exciting and satisfying periods of my writing life. Blogging is indeed a revolution; and I am very proud to have played a part in pioneering it and even prouder that so many have joined the blogosphere, continued it on and made it as powerful a force as it now is. I’ll be back, as Arnold once put it. But after a breather and a period writing longer, more careful, more measured, less time-sensitive work. I’ll miss you all badly. But this is not a farewell – just a see you later (a redesign is also in the works). Yes, I’ll be blogging the SOTU.