I intended to write this weeks ago. At the time, I couldn't figure out how to say it. Even now, the words still elude me -- but as with just about every pressing assignment throughout high school and college, it's way past due. I must bid you farewell, whether I can find the words or not.
I've started a new job with Washington Post Radio. It's a totally new area for me, requiring all my time and attention. And so I am putting The Debate to bed.
A nice, long nap sounds pretty good to me, too, actually. The Debate was always just a fraction of my job; most of my time was spent coordinating the hundreds of op-ed submissions sent to The Post each week, leaving only late night hours for the intensive research necessary in order to have an informed discussion the next day. I've been exhausted since mid-October -- right about the time the adrenaline that helped keep me awake for most of September started to fade.
I've often wondered why I never managed to recover fully from my September of Sleeplessness -- and later, The Vacation That Wasn't -- but after collecting the content of The Debate into one document, I think I understand. In standard 12-pt font, The Debate spans almost 9,000 pages; the month of March alone took up 1,600 pages. My posts, not counting comments, run 365 pages -- more than 125,000 words. Add in the nearly 16,000 comments and the word count easily tops 3 million.
That's 3 million (predominantly analytical, thoughtful, logical, and often eloquent) words exchanged in detailed discussions of some of the biggest quandaries facing our nation and our world. Three million words of Debate. It's humbling.
I'm sorry there are so many fascinating subjects we never touched, like campaign finance reform proposals, the epidemic of press releases disguised as television news, and perhaps even debating the merits of a presidential system of government versus a parliamentary one.
I'll miss being able to share those Congressional Record gems like Rep. Dingell's War on Christmas poem. I'll miss the reporting behind the posts -- separating the facts from the rumors, pouring over documents, debunking false assertions, trying in vain to get straight answers from officials, taking questions directly to Congressional offices, and scrutinizing the statements of pundits and lawmakers alike.
I'll miss being able to present useful background information, little known facts and key questions to a geographically and experientially diverse audience. Your wisdom -- and (at times scathing) wit -- broadened my perspective, and I think you opened each other's minds, too.
The Debate could never have worked if it had simply been me spouting my opinions.
Opinions are everywhere -- you can't go more than two clicks of the mouse or of the remote without running into one. The Internet is saturated with what I've come to think of as Cyclops Blogs, popular because they're good fodder for boosting self-righteousness. On television news networks, talking heads give funhouse-mirror glimpses of opposing points of view, then knock those views down for us, cleverly but not too deeply, so we rarely have to rely on our own reasoning skills.
Throughout The Debate, I have attempted to provide both opinions and the facts behind (or contradicting) those opinions. I hope you've enjoyed it as much as I have.
If you think The Debate's approach has been valuable -- or not -- then my editors at washingtonpost.com would like to hear from you. They're debating whether to continue the feature and would appreciate your input.
've thoroughly enjoyed the time I've spent blogging with you (even more than I would have enjoyed the hundreds of hours of sleep I could have had instead.) Most of all, it has been a pleasure getting to know many of you through your interactions and analysis, as well as your personal comments to me. Thank you.
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