I mentioned to myself on the subway this morning riding into work that I might like to be the next chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), or at least a commissioner.
I said to myself, "Self, I have all of the qualifications that I drew up for someone should have to be the FCC Chairman." And so I thought, "Why not me?" That is how I came to mention the possibility.
After all, I've been involved with the telecom industry since before the AT&T breakup. I was online before there was an Internet. Years ago, I played tennis with the now-Verizon chairman Ivan Seidenberg, back in the days before he began his climb up the executive ladder by ditching tennis for golf and by shaving his beard. Take note - his strategy worked like a charm.
I am an advocate of the policies the Obama team wants, and I campaigned for a Congressional candidate, the fabulous Rep. Donna Edwards, who is now a member of the House of Representatives and a champion of Net Neutrality.
None of that matters, however, when evaluated against this simple fact: The result of all this mentioning is that I have now officially been Mentioned. Trust me, this is a Very Big Deal. Political reporting couldn't exist without the Mentioning.
Take, for example, the impending choice of a new senator from New York to replace Hillary Clinton. The Washington Post's political blogger, Chris Cillizza, after writing about Caroline Kennedy and Andrew Cuomo as candidates, added: "Aside from Kennedy and Cuomo, Democrats mentioned for the appointment include: Reps. Kirsten Gillibrand, Carolyn Maloney, Brian Higgins and Steve Israel as well as Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown and Nassau County Executive Tom Suozzi."
There can also be group mentions. Accompanying a set of photos of Illinois politicians who may succeed President-elect Obama in the Senate is this caption from the Post: "File photos show Tammy Duckworh, a disabled Iraq war veteran and currently the Illinois veteran affairs director, U.S. Reps. Jesse Jackson Jr., of Chicago and Jan Schakowsky, of Evanston, Ill., Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan and Illinois Senate President Emil Jones. The five have been mentioned as potential candidates to fill the Senate seat of President-elect Barack Obama."
The Times from time to time Mentions candidates for all sorts of office, from national to municipal. On Dec. 7, it noted that John H. Banks III and Marvin Marcus, respectively a lobbyist and investment banker, are "possible candidates being mentioned" to be deputy mayor for economic development.
Texas papers are full of mentions these days, not only with former Dallas Mayor Ron Kirk mentioned as a candidate to be the U.S. Trade Representative, but, in addition, as potential candidates for the Senate seat now held by Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, who will run for governor.
No reporters are more busy trying to collect Mentions than those here in Washington. In this corner of the world, they are trying to figure out who will be the next FCC chairman, so they call me in my day-job as communications director for Public Knowledge to see if I can give them any new information. BusinessWeek ran a story on prospective FCC chairmen a week after the election. Other stories undoubtedly will be written soon as the pace of appointments picks up, judging from the calls I get.
I try to help the best that I can, while cautioning that these appointments often come from directions no one has expected with nominees not previously mentioned - a practice which, by the way, violates the Principles of Mentioning. There is no hard and fast rule that someone must be Mentioned in order to be appointed; there are only principles which can be used or not.
I've even Mentioned some candidates myself in conversations and in blog posts. Just as there are no rules about what it takes to be one of the Mentioned, there are no rules about who qualifies to be a Mentioner. (Can someone be both Mentioned and Mentioner? Probably happens all the time. Who knows? Anonymity is a frequently used Mentioning technique.)
Now, however, when someone calls and asks who is in the mix for FCC chairman, I can say that I have heard that I have been Mentioned. And now Huffington Post readers, you have heard it too. Mention away. The Great Mentioner would be proud.