Robert Reich, Labor Secretary in Bill Clinton’s cabinet and currently Professor of Public Policy at the Goldman School of Public Policy at UC Berkeley, has started blogging. And the only reason I know this is that his son, Sam Reich, saw a post I’d written during the Dubai ports imbroglio in which I praised a column Reich pere wrote supporting the deal. Sam just sent me an e-mail alerting me to his dad’s new project.
Actually, it appears that Sam might’ve talked his somewhat reluctant dad into joining the blogging phenomenon. But I say–more power to both of them. Blogging needs to be done by more than just technophiles and other youthful types. It needs to be done by technophobes, the elderly and folks from all walks of life.
While there are certainly many academics who blog there are not enough. Part of the reason may lie in the damage that a blog can do to a budding academic career. If you’re up for tenure or interviewing for a position and write something that offends someone on your committee you’re in big trouble. In Reich’s case he doesn’t need to worry much since he’s in the midst of a flourishing career and most of his colleagues will (or should) understand that he is a public intellectual whose voice needs to be heard far beyond the walls of academe.
My point is that we need more academics blogging. One of my sore points is the paucity of academic bloggers writing about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. After you mention Juan Cole, there are perhaps one or two others. It’s a shame because their absence contributes to the propagandistic nature of much of what passes for blog discussion of this issue.
Reich’s new blog has a cool post about what it’s like to be a guest on Jon Stewart’s The Daily Show and not have a clue what Jon Stewart plans to talk to you about. That’s got to be hard on a professor who’s used to carefully preparing 50 minute discourses for his courses. He also muses whether Bush’s selective leaking of previously classified intelligence data via Scooter Libby to Judith Miller is “an impeachable offense.” Good stuff. Take a look.