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I have all kinds of opinions about Bush's speech but whenever I write them up they sound too "Op-eddy," if you know what I mean. I have to learn to stop saying "notwithstanding" and "incontrovertibly." Basically my point was that we're on the verge of World War IV. (But that violates the rule, "Tell them something they don't already know.")

THIS JUST IN: Fred Anderson, author of "The Dominion of War," and subject of a pre-inaugural blog item, has e-mailed a brilliant analysis of Bush's speech. But then Fred realized he, too, was being too Op-eddy, and so we're just going to quote one sentence: "William McKinley might have spoken those very words, with the same perfectly sincere conviction, in the context of the Philippine Insurrection." You see the problem. Smart but not bloggy.

Changing the topic: The first paper in my Georgetown class was due on Tuesday at 7 p.m., and every single student made the deadline. That's a compliance rate of 100 percent by my calculation. What does this tell us? That these are conscientious and disciplined students. And that they fear me. This is good. This is what I want. Fear is the foundation of respect. The students know that my wrath can be apocalyptic.

The response of the students is in dazzling contrast to a couple of emailers to the Achenblog who dismiss my work as "bland." Let me just say this to you critics: Bland is underrated. Bland is a style that I have spent years perfecting. I know you think that a blog is supposed to be all snarky and quirky and vulgar and sexy and sparky and snippy, and have a billion links to other sites, and most of all, rage against the evil mainstream media. Listen up: I AM the mainstream media. That's what it says on my fabled inaugural credentials: Mainstream Media, Central Branch. Yesterday at the inauguration I was essentially right in between the Twins. I practically administered the Oath, ya dig?

Just got a note from former Style writer Dana Thomas, who lives in Paris and just heard the news about Marjorie Williams. Dana writes, "I remember Marjorie working on her devastating two-parter on Clark Clifford--the one that brought him down and should have won her a Pulitzer. I thought when that ran, That's what I want to do. I want to be like Marjorie. I learned so much from her just by sitting next to her, observing her, eavesdropping: careful reporting, steady tone, beautiful fair writing. But I adored her too. She was sincerely kind, friendly, helpful. I was a hungry, scrambling kid working 14 hours a day trying to get whatever I could in the paper and she was one of the few who was truly encouraging. She made me feel I could really grow up and be a good journalist."

One unsettling development: Downie came by the other night and said something about how the Achenblog so far has had a "high literary content," which he did not intend as a compliment. He strongly hinted that it should be bloggier. It's probably not a good sign when Downie, who is not exactly Mr. Cyberspace, and who I think learned the craft of journalism from Lincoln Steffens, says loosen up and get more hip and goofy and funny and linky and bloggy.

By Joel Achenbach  |  January 21, 2005; 1:19 PM ET
 
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