A reader quotes me:
A friend told me last night over a Jager that I romanticized politics. I'm not sure I do. But predictions and narratives and personalities are integral to readable political journalism. It is a theater at times, and the performances require aesthetic and human judgments as well as technical and policy ones.
I don't know that you romanticise politics as a whole. But you do need your dragons to slay. There are many topics in which you are measured and consistent, pleased with incremental progress and able to recognise setbacks and their significance.
But when you recognise a dragon – a person you perceive to be a dangerous threat to the ideals you hold dear or to the body politic – well, you tend to kick the spurs in and charge, sword in one hand, lance in the other and the shield of common sense left behind. Palin is one; Hillary Clinton another, for large bits of the '90s and portions of the '08 campaign. Radical Islam was another, in the wake of 9/11. I wouldn't quite call it pure romance.
You are far more cognizant of the flaws in your heroes than the virtues of your enemies, and you seem to admit of other, neutral persons or institutions to which you attitude can be mixed and measured (the Church is your curate's egg of the moment). But for your dragons – there seems to be no madness they might not drive us, no annihilation they might not wreak, and thus any attack is permitted to defend against their depredations. Having a dragon to destroy seems to give you the vim needed to run your treadmill everyday. You can't quite work Robot Romney into one – he's too sane and bland, and it seems to depress you. I think that was part of your soft spot for Santorum – now there was an authentic nutter who could be counted on to breathe fire when provoked.
That's always been about the size of it, to me. Me with my PhD in Knowing Fuck All About Psychology. But nobody loves reading you for your cold logic, Andrew. All your fans are fans of your passion. Vim-less political writers all turn into Tom Friedman after a while, and thanks be praised, there's never a worry of that with you.