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July 31, 2002

Why doesn’t ______ have a

Why doesn’t ______ have a blog?

Politicians are constantly trying to get a message out. To do that, they’re beholden to the mainstream media, which they pretty much hate. It distorts their positions and mis-quotes them when not actively attacking them. You can be a media darling for a little while, but it never lasts. There are other ways to reach out. You could clog up mailboxes with your franking privilege, but that probably pisses more people off than it informs. I get enough junk mail, I don’t need snail mail spam from Mike Easley, not that he sends me much. Thanks Mike. There’s also a good argument to be made that the overwhelming political cynicism of the current age is due to the media and its stranglehold on political culture. So politicians are stuck on the back of the media tiger, and it doesn’t look like many are trying to get off.

There are political blogs. There’s lots of them. Practically all the news there is about blogging is driven by stories about political blogs.

But why aren’t there any politicians blogs? Well, there are, or rather, there is. One.

At least it's the only one that I found, after a rather lengthy search. If you know of more, let me know, and I’ll add them here.

Bill Wood's Weblog

He’s only been around since May 13th. Of course, that’s a full seven days longer that we’ve been around, so I’m not casting any stones. It could use some more regular attention, though, Bill.

I think there are a number of advantages to a politician having his or her own blog, as long its updated daily, and as long they post personally.

1.) You can change your position on an issue, and you can point towards “the excellent arguments of the readers on my blog” as a reason. As it stands now, all one hears when a politico changes his stance is screams of “flip-flop” from the other side. Now you have a clear example of the evolution in your thinking for all to see. You won’t get that from television. Stating that time and again will also drive traffic to your blog, traffic that will see your words and your thoughts without them being filtered by the media for probably the first time ever.

How many of you out there would feel a little more warmly about John McCain if he pointed to words you wrote on his blog when discussing how he changed his position on campaign finance reform? Or if Al Gore quoted an argument you used when discussing his new-found distrust of the Kyoto protocols?

2.) Also for the first time, you’d begin to be perceived as a real person. I don’t know about you, but the only major politician I’m prepared to believe was not manufactured by the Stepford corporation is David Price, because he talked to me about books for five minutes one day when I was clerking at B&N. I’ll vote for him, forever. I’d add Terry Sanford to the list to, for the same reasons except he’s dead. And it was for fifteen minutes, over coffee, and he signed a book for my dad. A blog allows you to do the same thing Terry and David did to me, to thousands of people at a time. Posts don’t have to be about your campaign, they can be about anything, and the farther they deviate from whatever the message of the day is, the more likely it will be that people will begin to perceive you as an actual human, rather than a demon in a coat and tie. And you can bet your last dollar that it will be thousands of people at a time, because there isn’t a warblogger around that couldn’t resist linking to damn near everyone of your posts. They’ll probably even link to your message of the day.

3.) You’ll get a lot of media coverage because of the blog. The media is fascinated by them. Blogging may be a fad, and it may die out by 2004. But if it doesn’t it will be absolutely huge, and you’ll have started back in the days of its relative infancy. Which means;

4.) You’ll be seen as the “tech” candidate. Gore may have gotten a lot of grief from the “invented the internet” thing, but one of the best positives he had was his identification with technology and the internet. It’s always nice to look like you can see the future. Besides, more and more people surf the Internet, and a great deal of them depend on it for their jobs. The simple act of putting up a personal site on the web allows them to identify with you. It’s easily more populist than owning a baseball team, or an energy company. The latest numbers show 167 million people are on the web in the US. That’s 63 million more people than voted in the last election. We could reach 200 or 250 million by 2004. Start now, and they’ll respect you then. Start then, and you’ll be a Johnnie come lately.

5.) You can blow off journalists. When Helen Thomas asks you the same damn question she asked yesterday, and the day before that, you can tell her you answered that on your blog, and doesn’t she have any new questions? Forcing journalists to focus away from the scandal of the day allows you to weather them a lot easier, I’d imagine. Best make sure you actually have answered it on your blog, or Helen will look like a pussycat. We notice things like that.

I’ll make a prediction, since after all, I am so good at them. The next president will be the first candidate to start a blog and update it daily. That’ll likely be John McCain, or a Democrat. There’s nothing stopping George Bush, but blogging is a tool used by people who are Internet savvy. George is a CEO, and CEO’s, for the most part, can barely handle email and Powerpoint. You think George knows Powerpoint? You think George even knows what Google is? I’d be happy to be wrong, but nothing I have ever read or heard suggests to me that George Bush surfs the web. Umm, if you happen to be reading this, Mr. President, I’m pretty sure that’s Ari Fleischer’s fault. On the plus side if nobody starts a blog, I’m predicting you’ll be re-elected.

Also if any of the major prospective candidates start a blog anytime soon, you can bet they’ve decided to run for office.

Of course, the blogs will need names. Here’s a few suggestions.

Al Gore – Inventor of the Blog – Self deprecating humor always plays well with the electorate. Remember his Macarena?

John McCain - The Straight Blog – reminds people of the straight talk express, back in the day. Also sounds like the Straight Dope, which carries overtones of “The buck stops here” or for the particularly geeky, a man who knows everything.

Dick Gephardt – High Brow Blog – plays off the popular culture portrayal of him as a man with no eyebrows.

John Edwards – Mr. Edwards goes to Washington – Reminds people that he’s new to Washington, so he can still carry a whiff of outsider. And it never hurts to identify yourself with Jimmy Stewart, who played a number of crusaders. If you’re going to be a lawyer, it’s best to be a crusading lawyer.

Tom Harken – Corn Blog.

Joe Lieberman….John Kerry…. I don’t know. Any suggestions?

I’m not going to pretend that politicians are going to post to a blog without it being proof-read and scanned for bombs by, at the very least, an English teacher and campaign staffers. But, Mr. Candidate, if you treat it as your blog, rather than your campaign’s blog, it will pay great dividends. Also, you’d probably need someone familiar with the blogosphere to um…facilitate things. Hello?......Hello?

Posted by Bigwig at July 31, 2002 04:17 PM | TrackBack
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