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The things I have never said

| Tuesday, April 29, 2014

By my count, I’ve written 32 Viewpoint columns totaling more than 22,000 words over the past three years.

Can you believe there are still things I never said?

I never said many of my favorite columns are born from 5:30 a.m. wake up calls, black coffee and four newspapers. Of course, there was a reason for this; is there anything less interesting than reading a column about writing a column?

I never said how uneasy I am about the 2014 congressional elections. Republicans have a real chance to take control of the Senate this year, and I hope they do. But every time a conservative pundit or op-ed columnist speaks of the inevitability of it happening, I worry complacency will doom the GOP’s efforts. It’s a long road to November, and the GOP will be best served if it keeps its eyes on the road and foot on the gas.

I never said how I felt about college athletes being paid. You think the NCAA should compensate its athletes? Fine. There’s an argument to be made for doing just that. It’s an argument I don’t entirely disagree with. But to those who ludicrously compare college football players to exploited workers in America and around the world ⎯ stop. Paid or not, college athletes are doing something they love by their own free will. Anyone with half a brain knows there is no comparison between this and sweatshop labor.

I never said how inconceivable it is that many students at this University, myself among them, are allowed to graduate having fulfilled requirements in fine arts and natural sciences, yet never having taken the most basic courses in accounting and finance. There’s something unsettling about venturing into the post-graduate years knowing more than I need to about Leonardo’s mastery of chiaroscuro yet very little about setting up an investment fund for my retirement.

I never said how impressed I am every day by Notre Dame’s food services workers in the dining halls. Is there anyone who works harder than them?

I never said how surprised I was when former Viewpoint editor Meghan Thomassen took a chance and let an unknown transfer student start writing columns the week he got to campus in 2012. Thanks, Meghan.

I never said what I thought of a certain controversial speaker coming to Notre Dame’s campus because I didn’t think she deserved the ink and paper that would require, not to mention the extra attention she and her rabid supporters desired. And I don’t plan on giving her more than a paragraph now.

I never said what a mistake it is that the department of American Studies is letting its best professor, Joshua Roiland, leave at the end of this school year. Students who have had his classes know that nobody teaches modern journalism better than him. Congratulations, University of Maine. You’re getting one cool professor.

I never said my biggest regret in writing these columns is that I didn’t endorse Mitt Romney for president sooner in 2012 and with the strongest words possible. Romney would not only have made a good president, but his intellect, fundamental decency and proven leadership in the public and private sectors are things that the GOP, not to mention Washington in general, need more of.

These are just a few of the things I wanted to say but didn’t have the words or patience to put into a well-articulated column.

I’ve enjoyed writing about politics and other big ideas because I enjoy meaningful conversation. I enjoy the challenge of starting a conversation, rather than just getting a rise out of readers. After all, isn’t that to be expected from a great University and a great University newspaper?

My time at the Observer has ended, but the big ideas and political debates of our time have not.

Let the conversation go on.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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