Why Politicians Should Blog–Part 1

I am developing my own such list–but of reasons both why and why not–a politician should blog. Here is one via Loic Le Meur Blog. It is a well known Euroblog, and so most of the examples are from there. Interesting that most important reason to blog for an Amerian politician is not listed outright: TO BYPASS COMMERCIAL MEDIA, to avoid its editing, potential negative commentary, and so on.

10 reasons why should a politician blog (from Loic Le Meur Blog)

Why politicians should have blogs ?

1. To get closer to their audience, their supporters

2. To create a permanent open debate with them

3. To test their ideas easily and quickly, to enrich them and get new ones

4. To switch the way they talk to people usually from institutional to more personal

5. To better understand the criticism of the people against their ideas

6. To spread their ideas easily if they are supported by many people, in a decentralized way

7. To raise funds for their cause, party or campaign

8. To reach a younger audience and help young people get more interested in politics

9. To create around them network effects

10. To become famous if you are an unkown politician, or to start a political action, even locally [Read more…]

Hillary, Polls and Blogs: Her Possible Blog Strategies

Very good–as usual–discussion and analysis of Senator Hillary Clinton, her poll numbers, and the blogs at Mystery Pollster. Mark “MP” Blumenthal mentions some issues of leftblog dissatisfaction with HC and “are bloggers the people” and “who do bloggers represent” raised here at policybyblog earlier. Some key points from MP:

The primaries and caucuses are still a long way off.  Second, the overwhelming majority of Democratic identifiers and especially liberal Democrats are certainly opposed to the Iraq war.  On a recent CBS News poll most Democrats say they either want to decrease the number of US troops in Iraq (36%) or withdraw altogether (40%).  Third, adults who self-identify as Democrats are not the same as the much smaller pool of Democratic primary voters, much less the even smaller number of activists and donors. We will need larger samples of Democratic primary voters to get a handle on those populations.  Fourth and finally, these results tell us nothing about Senator Clinton’s skills as a candidate or what sort of campaign she might run, and MP is not foolish enough to make any sweeping predictions in that regard.  What we can say, for now at least, is that the recent hostility of left-leaning blogs is not evident among rank and file Democrats.

But if blogs are not “the people” in this case, MP wonders if the better question is whether blogs will ultimately prove to be opinion leaders. [Read more…]

Political Blogs as “Public Domain” Speechwriters?

One of the strangest adjustments for those of us who have written mostly for publication in print venues is the different nature of “publishing” on the Web. The ethics of revising something that you find out is mistaken, want to reword or to take back is complicated. And with Google’s cache feature you can’t ever really, fully delete your “drafts.”

But to what extent are words printed in political blogs owned by anyone? I am very traditional in the belief that these words, written by me, are copyrighted by me (see notice at the bottom of this page). I would think that most bloggers would feel the same way, i.e., “Don’t quote me unless you cite me.”

But in the world of politics, this can become an intricate and ambiguous question. Case in point: A few months ago, Representative Sherrod Brown of Ohio (D-13th Dist.) wrote a letter to Senator Mike DeWine (R-OH) concerning the nomination to the Supreme Court of Samuel Alito, and specifically enumerating what Brown represented as Alito’s poor record on labor issues and workers’ rights. Apparently, almost the entire letter was what in traditional publishing would be called plagiarized–that is, it was originally either the ideas or the actual words of a political blogger, Nathan Newman, of nathannewman.org. The Cleveland Plain Dealer newspaper revealed the “plagiarism” after officials from DeWine’s office alerted them. [Read more…]

Hillary Clinton’s Blog Dilemma: Are the Grassroots Burning?

[UPDATED] topmast_hillary.jpgBlogs can be a loyal constituency, but not an unthinking one. Political bloggers tend to be passionate, idealistic about their politics, and less forgiving of the gamesmanship, issue flopping, expediency, rhetorical hedging, “message discipline,” “good optics” and compromise on positions that is part of normal politicking for office.


New York Senator and former first Lady Hillary Clinton faces a conundrum in the face of this fact.

As January of 2006 she had the largest war chest, the highest name recognition and topped ratings in national polls of any Democrat in the pool for a possible presidential bid. Normally that would allow a candidate to “play to the middle.” Susan Estrich in her book, “The Case for Hillary Clinton,” argued that she was the perfect candidate because “[W]hich of your safe white men are going to excite the base the way Hillary does, so they can spend all their time in the middle? I’ll answer: None.”

But in fact, the base, as reflected in leftblogs, is hardly cheering the Senator from New York on. fire2vb.jpg

As Mickey Kaus comments on Estrich’s point: “Exciting the base is not something Hillary Clinton has been doing a lot of lately! I doubt that the Democrats’ ‘base’ will forgive her for her Iraq vote even if the war turns into a relative success. Suppose that happens–what’s she going to do, run on a campaign of ‘I told you so’? That’s always a turn-on for the die-hards!” [Read more…]

Hillary’s Stealth Nomination Coup?

I have an op-ed in the Christian Science Monitor titled “UNDER THE RADAR, CLINTON FOR PRESIDENT.” (January 30, 2006).

The original title was: “HILLARY’S STEALTH NOMINATION COUP?”

I have posted here [updated recently] (and here, here, and here) on Senator Clinton and the blogs. This present essay is not blog-related per se, but it does suggest that Hillary is taking a very traditional approach to a possible presidential bid in 2008: solidify key constituencies (African-Americans) and project a moderate image for the middle class white voter.

Curious but true: If the primaries were held today, HC would sweep the south; if the election were held today, HC would lose every southern state (save perhaps Florida). See post by MysteryPollster.

Earlier I speculated on what was her blog-strategizing options. I even asked if she might decide to take yet another page from her husband’s playbook and “Sister Soujah” the leftblogs! As of now Political blogs play little or no role in her campaign–save as leftflank antagonists. [See also here]. Is this an “ignore the blogs” strategy? [Read more…]

Are Blogs the New Iowa? (Redux…)

I have speculated here before on the new dimensions of political blogging. Most recent is a longer essay just published by the Chronicle of Higher Education. It is behind a paywall, so I reprint it here (with a few editorial revisions!):

And thanks to “doorguy” at Daily Kos for the publicity.

Political Blogs: the New Iowa? (Chronicle of Higher Education, May 26, p. B6)

Like many political junkies, I get my news and opinion fixes from newspapers, television, and specialty newsletters. But I also rely increasingly on blogs, the Web pages that contain both interactive, hyperlinked reportage and commentary. Such information sources are no longer curiosities. For example, Daily Kos (http://www.dailykos.com) — started by Markos Moulitsas Zúniga, who served in the U.S. Army before going to college and law school — includes contributions from a giant group of leftist, liberal, and Democratic bloggers. The Nielsen//NetRatings service reported that in the single month of July 2005, Kos attracted 4.8 million separate visitors. The Kos audience is thus greater than the combined populations of Iowa, where the first presidential caucus takes place, and New Hampshire, site of the first primary, according to the current Democratic party schedule.

It is no surprise, then, that political scientists and scholars of communication from many disciplines are asking what role blogs will play in future campaigns and elections and, more specifically, how bloggers will affect the election of our next commander in chief. [Read more…]

Interview with William Beutler (BLOGOMETER, BLOGPI)

Early this summer Shearon Roberts, one of my Masters Students, working for the Wall Street Journal conducted a series of interviews with interesting and innovative political bloggers. Among her first talks was with William Beutler, then a Senior Writer with the blogometer column in The Hotline (of the National Journal). He now (August 2006) produces BlogPI as a blog analyst for New Media Strategies, a PR firm based in Alexandria, Virginia.

Beutler: At The Hotline, I write…the blogometer. That section of the main publication is also published on the Web right after The Hotline…as a Web column basically. And that Web column, the blogometer, I spend 6 hours a day reading probably 150 blogs. And I screen them trying to find the interesting conversations and the things people are saying that are affecting politics and things that are affecting bills that are on the hill.

It’s a powerful tool. If you could read 100 blogs a day and you’re interested in politics and you don’t have time to visit other websites, read the blogometer and you will know what is happening in politics today basically. [Read more…]

Interview with Ken Spain [Deputy Chief of Staff, U.S. Rep. Mike Conaway (R-Texas)]

Shearon Roberts, an LSU Masters Student, working for the Wall Street Journal conducted a series of interviews with interesting and innovative political bloggers. In November 2005 she talked to Ken Spain [Deputy Chief of Staff, U.S. Rep. Mike Conaway (R-Texas)]

How involved is Mr. Conaway in operating the blog, http://www.conawayblog.com/,making posts and reading comments?

We assign a staffer to maintain the blog on a daily basis, the Congressman is very active in his posts, however, all the posts do not come from the Congressman, some come from staffers. The Congressman usually blogs once or twice a week usually on an issue that is important to him, an issue that the staff may point out that has a relevance for that day or time, we would usually try and get the Congressman to blog on that issue…if he does not point out what he would like to blog about.

He will sign off at the bottom of his blog entry as Mike. The other staffers will [sign in as themselves] for instance if the Congressman is heading into a budget meeting that day, our legislative assistant will blog and say this is what the Congressman is doing today, this is his take on the issue and then she will sign off as so and so staffer/legislative assistant for budget issues for Congressman Mike Conaway. [Read more…]

Interview with Polblogger Aaron Pena (D-Texas)

Shearon Roberts, an LSU Masters Student working for the Wall Street Journal conducted a series of interviews with interesting and innovative political bloggers as a project for a class I taught. In January of 2005 she talked to State Representative Aaron Pena, (D-Texas) of District 40 in South Texas. He blogs at http://acapitolblog.blogspot.com/

How involved are you in operating the blog, making posts and reading comments?

100% of it is my personal involvement. I started doing this in I think January of 2005. It’s become not only a way for me to communicate with constituents but a hobby. I’ve come to enjoy the banter between myself and other bloggers not only in Texas but from around the globe.

How frequently is the blog updated?

Three or four times a day.

How is the blog designed, is it a true blog–a strict daily diary for the politician, or a mix of website features and posts? What is the writing style or tone of the blog?

It’s personal, it’s conversational. Well I just got off the floor of the House and we just voted on a bill. So I explain the vote, what it was on, and the mechanics of it going on to the governor’s desk. But this is just an example of a factual, informational kind of post. It’s written from a first person position and very conversational. Sometimes it’s as personal as (sigh), philosophical feelings about death or my outings with my family. [Read more…]

Interview with polblogger Tony Trupiano (Democratic candidate for Congress)

Shearon Roberts, an LSU Masters Student working for the Wall Street Journal, conducted a series of interviews with interesting and innovative political bloggers as a project for a class I taught. She talked to Tony Trupiano (Democratic candidate for Congress in Michigan’s 11th district) who blogs at: http://www.tony4congress2006.com/blogs/

How involved are you in operating the blog, making posts and reading comments?

The blog is one of the few things that I am 98% present in. I do my own blogging, I do read the blog. I think it’s a great communication too. I think it is an opportunity…you give people access…not so much to the candidate but to the process. I find blogging to be almost therapeutic at times. And it’s a great communications tool.

How frequently is the blog updated?

At least once a week. I mean if I had time, I’d love to do it everyday. And I’ve kind of kind of fought this idea that somebody else can blog for me. For me that takes away from authenticity. So once a week, twice a week, sometimes more but I try to blog about something at least once a week.

How is the blog designed, is it a true blog–a strict daily diary or a mix of website features and posts? What is the writing style or tone of the blog?

Depending on the topic really depends on the tone (of writing). Not too long ago we had a major automotive plant close in my area and so that was much more personal. If I’m blogging about policy, obviously that’s going to be a bit more academic. So it’s the whole spectrum, it’s not just one style. [Read more…]