Welcome to my blog: Those are four words I never expected to write. I enjoy reading blogs as much as the next guy, but I always have the feeling that I am venturing into the wrong side of the journalism tracks — the right side being the MSM. Now I feel like I’ve gone from what I hope was serious journalism to talk radio. I’m taking up residence in the blogosphere, but I’m not selling my uptown home; I will always trust the Times and the Journal a lot more than I trust the average blogger.

Here’s what I like about blogging: It’s immediate. It’s democratic. It’s accessible to all. Blogging offers me the chance to write what I know as soon as I know it to a far larger audience than the circulation of Texas Monthly. Here’s what I don’t like about blogging: It’s immediate. It’s democratic. It’s accessible to all. The need for immediacy makes it impossible for me to write the way I like to write: crafting arguments, building a case, employing everything I have learned about writing to engage readers’ attention. Democracy empowers every reader to become a critic, sometimes virulently so; the blogger’s proclaimed expertise entitles him to none of the credentials that come with working for the MSM: that the writer is competent, educated, relatively objective, and professional. The accessibility of the blogosphere means that you’d better have a thick skin. I do.

I expressed some of these concerns in a column I wrote for our March 2005 issue, about the role of the bloggers in bringing down Dan Rather. It reads a bit too much like the work of an old dog confronted by a new trick, but one of my biggest gripes stands: the anonymity of many bloggers and the inability to hold them accountable. So for those who want to know where I stand on politics, here it is. I think politics is one of the greatest achievements of civilization. I believe that it works best when opposing sides seek common ground rather than ideological polarization. I believe that there are always two agendas — a partisan ideological agenda and a permanent agenda of the major issues facing a state or a nation — and that in order for the majority to govern successfully, both must be addressed. I believe that the subjugation of the permanent agenda to ideological purity has been the Achilles heel of the current Republican leadership in Texas, and I regret that the Democratic party is too feeble to hold them accountable. I do not believe that either the left or the right has a superior claim to political wisdom, truth, or virtue. I try to judge each issue on its merits rather than applying litmus tests. I vote in the Republican primary, because that is the only election that matters in Texas today, just as I voted in the Democratic primary when it was the only election that mattered, but I have no allegiance to either party. I have voted for Ann Richards and for George W. Bush, for Ronald Reagan and for Bill Clinton. While I may come down on the left or right side of any given issue, I consider myself a permanent member of the political center.

Now let’s get on with it.