Politician blogs vs. Political blogs
Maureen Dowd turns her attention to the recent phenomena of politician blogs (blogs "written" by politicians, as opposed to political blogs written by amateurs like myself).
In a lame attempt to be hip, pols are posting soggy, foggy, bloggy musings on the Internet. Inspired by Howard Dean's success in fund-raising and mobilizing on the Web, candidates are crowding into the blogosphere Â spewing out canned meanderings in a genre invented by unstructured exhibitionists. It could be amusing if the pols posted unblushing, unedited diaries of what they were really thinking, as real bloggers do. John Kerry would mutter about that hot-dog Dean stealing his New England base, and Dr. Dean would growl about that wimp Kerry aping all his Internet gimmicks. But no such luck. Instead, we have Travels with Tom, Tom Daschle's new blog recounting his annual August pilgrimage around South Dakota. Trying to sound uninhibited, he says he has "no schedule and no staff" and promises readers "amazing experiences" with "fascinating people." ... Dr. Dean doesn't deign to write his blog, either, but at least it's fun. Mathew Gross, the Dean campaign's "head blogger" or "blogmaster" Â who got his job by blogging and who now writes most of the Dean virtual entries Â calls blogs the new town hall meetings. "They've revolutionized the way campaigns are run," he says. "It creates an equality among everybody. People are hungry for the old-fashioned discussion and debate."Dowd, in her own way, manages to hit on something key to blogging phenomena that, so far, few political hacks have figured out: blogs are not just an online version of campaign junk mail. They work best when they provide their readers with the real sense of feedback that comes with blog writers who actually pay attention to the things their readers send to them. It's a conversational medium much like the town halls that Mathew Gross talks about. Now, it isn't reasonable to expect that politicians will actually have the time to devote themselves personally to a truly interactive blog. Speaking from personal experience, developing a following requires a long-tecommitmentent. My posting has been a bit spotty of late and, as a result, my volume has gone down. This is where the staff who operates the blog become vital. BlogForAmerica would be nowhere were it not for Mathew or Zephyr Teachout devoting themselves to building a personal relationship with the Deanizens who regularly visit. If the other candidates have a prayer of making a splash in this new medium they have to find the right people and then trust them to become a prominent part of the public face of the candidate. Many politicians and their managers are far to obsessive about controlling the message for them to risk that kind of exposure. They will learn. They will have to.