We're still in the zone where it's acceptable to make lists of things 2009 or "best/worst of the decade," but I'll spare you yet another retrospective. I do, however, want to comment on a couple of comments received from other bloggers, where, from very different quarters, I was included in "favorite" or "top 5" categories.
It's always flattering to get praise, and I thank my fan club. But here's the quandary: I have been praised for my "objectivity" and "non partisanship," which are perhaps the last words that I'd have used to describe my attitude to blogging. When I left my career as a diplomat, I reveled in being able to sock it to the Bush Administration, about which I have real trouble being objective. And my involvement in Democrats Abroad on behalf of the Obama campaign was highly partisan.
But I'll let my fans speak for themselves. First, Mark Golbach, who with Linda Brazill publishes "Each Little World," a very personal blog of good writing and photography on a very eclectic range of topics, based in Wisconsin:
Reading Loftus transports me outside the borders of my country, gives me back that outsider's view of things, and provides a measure of objectivity that is very hard to come by in our national press.
Now, from a world that is topically and geographically (though not philosophically) closer to mine, Yasin Akgun of The Conservative Blog,"Independent Conservative Commentary" from Great Britain:
What I particularly like about this blog is that it is written by someone who can be unashamedly non-partisan about the EU, something none of us Europeans can claim to be. It is interesting to see the views of somebody from America on the European Union, something we rarely hear about.
Akgun is referring to my other blog, "Errant European," where I tend to cross-post items that are primarily of interest to European readers of Blogactiv/Euractiv, a Brussels-based media portal on EU affairs.
I think what my pair of admirers may have touched on is my expatriated condition, which lends my subjectivity an aura of objectivity and/or non-partisan observation. In Europe, I'm an American who lives here and follows events with interest, but not with the same level of partisan commitment that divides Europeans into socialist, liberal (meaning free-market), Green, or conservative camps. As Akgun's Conservative Blog has pointed out, Europeans are often confused over American politics (so are many Americans!), and have only a vague idea of where Republicans and Democrats would fit on their wider political spectrum.
As an American expatriate looking back at my native country, I also have this interested but slightly detached view, though my partisan commitment is real. From my earliest years, I was aware that my parents, who came to the US from Ireland, were different from my little friends' parents. When my father first came to the States, he was amazed at his cousins' and colleagues' chauvinism over things American. Their unwillingness to believe that things could, perhaps, sometimes be done in a better way overseas, or their conviction that if it didn't exist in the US, it simply didn't exist elsewhere.
Neil Gaiman, a British expat in Minnesota and author of Neverwhere (though the book is on London, its title is a good description of the expatriate condition), says that after years of living in the US, he "still feels alien, which is probably a very good thing for a writer to feel."
Like Gaiman, I think that the view from afar helps visual acuity. Whether it's farsightedness (image from Wikipedia, "hyperopia"), objectivity, non-partisanship, or subjectivity of a special order, I have made it the thread that runs through this blog. Glad that some have come to like it.