The new administration and new Congress are bringing change to the federal government and that change has to be covered. But how deeply? Institutions are important, but except to those who love this sort of stuff, reading writing about institutions can be numbingly dull. So you get Ezra Klein writing things like
Clinton partially repealed 12291 with Executive Order 12866. I’m not going to explain it because, frankly, you all will stop visiting this blog if I do, but suffice to say it pulled many of Reagan’s changes back.
or Elana Schor cutting off an excerpt from a budget resolution, saying
Okay, I had to stop it there at the risk of driving people away with Congress-speak.
Of course these kinds of disclaimers or apologies aren’t really new: Mark Schmitt, for example, who often writes about political process issues, put a number of them into his posts back when he was blogging regularly at The Decembrist. Here’s one from a post on campaign finance
My apologies to readers for a long post on a subject that, evidence shows, is of interest to almost no one.
(And readers who made it to – or at least near – the end of my post on Senate campaign finance disclosures last summer might remember seeing an aside along the same lines.)
I highlight these because I keep seeing them – probably because I appear to be one of those people who finds this stuff interesting – and it keeps reminding me of one of my favorite quotations, from Richard White’s book on the Columbia River:
Planning is an exercise of power, and in a modern state much real power is suffused with boredom. The agents of planning are usually boring; the planning process is boring; the implementation of plans is always boring. In a democracy boredom works for bureaucracies and corporations as smell works for a skunk. It keeps danger away. Power does not have to be exercised behind the scenes. It can be open. The audience is asleep. The modern world is forged amidst our inattention.