Roger L. Simon

Journolist and Weigel in the Age of the Digital Machiavelli

I’m not really qualified to comment on the Weigel kerfuffle because, frankly, I haven’t paid much attention to it. Some things are described as “Inside the Beltway.” This seems like “Inside the Beltway” for a size 23″ belt… or maybe 14″. It’s cinched about as tight as it gets.

Nevertheless, reading Ezra Klein’s apologia pro vita listservers in the WaPo this morning, one thing struck me – how naive these folks are. From the perspective of someone on the Left Coast who is in his sixties (okay, send me off to the glue factory… but first beat me in singles) I was stunned how out of touch these people are with the digital age.

The most obvious, first and inviolable rule for the Age of the Digital Machiavelli: NEVER PUT ANYTHING POTENTIALLY DAMAGING IN EMAIL. Never, never, never, never. It’s indelible. And stay clear of IM as well. It’s also indelible with only slightly more effort for the retrieval.

Second rule, IF YOU HAVE ANYTHING IMPORTANT TO SAY, SAY IT ON THE PHONE. And preferably a landline. Yes, I know “the government is listening in.” But, hello, most of the time, they’re way too busy with significant matters to concern themselves with, say, what Dave Weigel thinks about Ann Coulter. In fact, scratch the “most of the time.” They’re always too busy.

Anyway, that’s my two cents on something that is of lasting unimportance. My last piece of advice: Reread Machiavelli. He’s much more interesting than Saul Alinsky, also a much better writer. Don’t believe me? Read his play Mandragola – a masterpiece. Alinsky couldn’t write that if you put a gun to his head and gave him five thousand chimpanzees as assistants.

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