Are Blogs the New Iowa?

The Editor of PolicyByBlog and Emily Metzgar, a political columnist, just published (November 03, 2005) in the Christian Science Monitor an essay that deals with the prospect of the blogosphere becoming a “space” for running for President: COULD BLOGS TRUMP STUMPING IN IOWA?

Like all newspaper pieces, we needed to be short and we were edited. To expand the context, for over a generation political scientists have noted that there was a campaign for president before the ostensible running season began with the Iowa Caucuses. The journalist Arthur Hadley called this period the “invisible primary.” Would-be presidents underwent a series of “tests.” (Think Labors of Hercules!) As articulated by political scientist Rhodes Cook, these trails included: [Read more…]

Daily Kos Tops Iowa and NH?

According to a recent article in the Christian Science Monitor: “Blogs still rank well behind traditional television, radio, and newspaper outlets as a source of news, but they are gaining ground rapidly. The liberal blog Daily Kos attracted nearly 4.8 million visitors this July, compared with 3.4 million in January, according to Nielsen//NetRatings…”

The population of Iowa is 2,926,324.

The population of New Hampshire is 1,235,786.

Their total population is, thus: 4,162,110.

That means Daily Kos had more “residents” in July than the two “first in the nation” states for the presidential nomination race. Of course, it is apples and ipods to compares a state with a website, but the numbers do point out the increasing locii of geopolitical power and attention that are blogs. One big difference: to meet everyone in Iowa, you have to travel all over Iowa. To get seen by everyone in Daily Kos land a single headlining post is enough.

Originally posted November 7, 2005 at PolicyByBlog

Bloggers are First-hand Reporters for the Invisible Primary

Bill Keller, editor of the New York Times, in one of a series of dismissals of bloggers, summed up his opinion of their contribution to the information society by the following: “Bloggers recycle and chew on the news. That’s not bad. But it’s not enough.”

I disagree. Many bloggers are creating new content, hunting and gathering news and information, not just digesting it. The presidential race–or pre-race creates many examples. The invisible primary is a time of severely reduced press attention to presidential hopefuls. Even bigfoot frontrunners like, say, Hillary Clinton, do not get much national media attention speaking to the Women’s Democratic Caucus in a rural county in Iowa. As Richard di Benedetto of USA Today once commented to me: “When I started in this business, I was taught that the job of a journalist was to go someplace that the public couldn’t get to and report what he saw and heard.” [Read more…]

Blogs of War: Then and Now

A few years ago I wrote a book on the history of the visualization of war.  Today, writing a book on blogging, I see a striking differences between two “blogs of war,” that is, first person accounts of a battle in the Middle East.

Then: In c. 1300 BCE, the pharaoh Rameses II and his army fought a battle against a Hittite army at Kadesh, in what is now Syria. The battle was a draw; in fact, the Egyptians ended up retreating. But Rameses’ memorial temple–an instance of massive communication–shows on its 100-foot walls pictures and hieroglyphics of the great ruler as victorious. As originally painted, Rameses is bronze skinned, broad shouldered, long armed, resolute of face, wearing the twin crowns of upper and lower Egypt, and many times larger than the Hittites and his own men–a superman in the anthropological as well as comic book sense. (Rameses became the “Ozymandias”  who, in Shelley’s poem, demanded that all “look upon my works, ye mighty, and despair.”) In the written records accompanying the images, Rameses boasts that he personally routed “every warrior of the Hittite enemy, together with the many foreign countries which were with them.”


In contrast, the pharaoh blames his own men for early problems in the battle: “You have done a cowardly deed, altogether. Not one man among you had stood up to assist me when I was fighting. . . not one among you shall talk about his service, after returning to the land of Egypt.” In other words, here was the mighty-thighed Pharaoh announcing that his own men were cowards and he won the battle single-handedly. I have often wondered whether some veteran of Kadesh, walking by the tableaus, did not squint up, shake his head, gnash his teeth, and growl to his wife, “The lying bastard, it was his bad generalship/leadership that lost the day, not our cowardice.” But of course we don’t know; foot soldiers in Pharaoh’s army didn’t carve or write their campaign memoirs; and no scribe or stonemason interviewed them. [Read more…]

Edwards–In the Blog Lead?

The National Journal’s Hotline has dubbed John Edwards “The most active potential candidate” of the blogosphere. Not only does Edwards have his own blog and guest blog, but as noted in previous posts here, he invites bloggers to special meetings whenever he travels to give a speech.

Originally posted December 7, 2005 at PolicyByBlog

The Coming Anti-Hillary Blogswarm–from the Left?

Natasha Celine of Pacific Views (and a veteran blogger of the “sleepless summer” of Howard Dean) writes to me:

The idea of Hillary Clinton running for president really sounded good to me right after her 2000 campaign, but she killed my enthusiasm with her votes and public statements. She’s wandered between Republican apologist, warmonger, ‘moral’ crusader and ardent supporter of women’s rights. Or maybe healthcare. As if the last things should make up for all the rest of it, as if Democratic politicians haven’t figured out that supporting women’s rights and better health care is literally the least they can do. A floor, if you will, as opposed to a ceiling. It would be putting it mildly to say that I’m disinterested in her candidacy.

See her entire letter in DOCUMENTS section in left sidebar.

Also: “Sonoma” comments on Bob Kunst’s open letter to Hillary Clinton: “No one- and I mean no one- despises the Bushites GOP more than I. But if HC somehow managed to gain the presidential nomination, I would refuse to vote Democratic for the first time, as measured in decades.”

Background: Before the 2004 race, Rhodes Cook argued that “Once the primary voting begins, it is arguable that pragmatism trumps ideology. For the candidates that have done best of late in the primaries have not been the ideologically pure of heart but those who are best funded, best networked, and most capable of rallying their party’s base in its broadest form.” Kerry’s nomination was another case study in such pragmatism by party regulars hungry for victory. But the left of the Democratic “party’s base in its broadest form”–folks like Kunst, Kos, Soto, Gilliard, and Celine, will, I think, argue that (a) so-called pragmatic Democrats keep losing–with Clinton as an exception in many ways–and (b) it is fundamentally disingenuous to shift principles and policy positions to ape polling data and focus groups reports. [Read more…]

Is Kos the King or the Kingmaker–Oops…

Mickey Kaus responds to a previous PolicyByBlog post on HC, the grassroots and blogging:

Hillary’s Secret Challenger; Now he can be revealed. By Mickey Kaus/Updated Monday, Jan. 2, 2006, at 4:57 AM ET

Hillary vs. the Blogs, cont.: From David Perlmutter–

Politicians have always needed to balance the base and the middle. Blogs make this tension, if not more difficult, more public.

Emphasis not added, but appropriate. Perlmutter writes seriously and smartly about Hillary Clinton’s dilemma in this regard, though:

a) He takes Kos rather too seriously, calling him “a political kingmaker.” (Oh yeah? Name the king);

b) He underemphasizes the extent to which Hillary’s character–specifically her innate and exaggerated caution, calculation, and need for control–makes her a particularly bad match for the blog age, maybe as bad a match as Nixon or LBJ were for the TV age in 1960. Perlmutter notes that blogs and blog readers reward risk-taking passion and honesty. That he then actually mulls over the question of whether Clinton herself should blog–treating her dilemma as the same dilemma faced by any frontrunner, as if there were any hope that her blog would ever be worthwhile–shows that he doesn’t fully appreciate Hillary’s characterological inhospitability to the blogger virtues. … [Read more…]

What Should Hillary Call Her Blog?–“SECURITY MOM DIARIES…”

Blogging is supposed to be a natural effusion of thought and emotion: modern politics is all about control, staying “on message,” getting out your sound and visbytes, and reducing risks of gaffes. Hence the attractions of real blogging are low for frontrunner candidates like Hillary Clinton. And, well, PolicyByblog is a non-partisan blog but I don’t think I’m stepping too far out of line to agree with those that characterize Senator Clinton’s personal style as not naturally intimate and emotive.

Still…one can imagine she could blog in bursts–very controlled bursts!

In perspective, the first-person quality of a politician’s blog is enhanced when they speak to us from interesting, even exotic, situations. Patrick J. Leahy, the Vermont democrat, blogs in “real time” from the floor of the Senate. “More from the Floor” updates up to several times a day. During Ronald Reagan’s funeral, Representative Mike Pence (R-IN) stood inside the national cathedral and typed directly into his Blackberry for the following blog entry:

“My wife and I stand amidst the most powerful people in the world….We have stood beside presidents and princes, prime ministers and leaders of every stripe but that is not what moved us these past two hours. There was the undeniable presence of the Spirit of the Lord in this place and it was a sweet presence…[when] the casket swept by to our right, and tears filled my eyes.” [Read more…]

Will Hillary “Sister Souljah” the Leftblogs?

UPDATED: Senator Hillary Clinton is still getting very high poll ratings–especially among minority voters which make up majorities or pluralities of the Democratic vote in many states, like, say South Carolina. In irony, she would be unbeatable if the Democratic primaries were held today in the Southern states; but, whether she would win any Southern red state in a general election is questionable. Hillary Rodham Clinton is the only Democrat who can energize the Republican base–to vote against her.

If her main concern is the general election contest, that is winning the middle and swing voters, then she (and her lead live-in political strategist) may be considering a “Sister Souljah” moment, with the symbolic target this time being anti-war left bloggers. An SS moment refers to the time in 1992 when Bill Clinton criticized the black, female rap artist for sounding like “David Duke” for a comment she made about “why not have a week and kill white people?” (Which she said was taken out of context). The political implication was that Clinton came off as a moderate Democrat not beholden to an “extremist” of the left and thus was more acceptable to socio-cultural moderates and conservatives. [Read more…]

Blogs, Flogs, Hitblogs, Identity Theft and Politicians: A New Tool for the Dirty Tricks Bag?

Anyone can start up a blog claiming to be anyone else: sometimes the “identity theft” is satirical and most readers will catch on. “Harriet Miers” blog lampooned (in the first person) the aborted Supreme Court nominee; some Virginia wags started a political blog titled “Not Larry Sabato” in reference to the massively-quoted University of Virginia political science professor. The “Roger Ailes” of the blog of the same name is not the president and CEO of Fox News and the blogger tells us so, in this manner: “Not affiliated with Fox News Channel or any other houses of ill-repute.”

Less identity theft than personal assault are blogs dedicated to attacking the person in the title or address. The bloggers at focus their ire on Pennsylvania republican Senator Rick Santorum. Rockford Illinois-based “Ellis Wyatt” (itself a pseudonym) talks about many subjects at Dump Dick Durbin but the democratic senator is a special target of negative criticism. [Read more…]