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.”

In each case, we are not only invited to listen to the polblogger, describing eyewitnessed events, but to feel as if he were relating to us intimate asides about events to which we would normally have no access. More important to the politician, such utterances bypass big media; they can show and tell us at length, without being subject to outside editing or commentary by an interlocutor.

Travels abroad–to zones of war or danger or diplomatic sensitivity–seem ready made for such “follow me” polblog narratives. When, in December 2004, Senator Jim Talent (R-Tennessee) made an official visit to the Middle East, including a stop in Iraq, his office posted “Sen. Jim Talent’s special travel event blog.” Not surprisingly, the focus was on what the Senator saw, what he thought about it, and his personal encounters with Missourians serving in the U.S. armed forces in the region:

And this brings me to an important point. Even in Baghdad, the soldiers are operating largely in a stable environment. They are able to patrol among the civilian population and they do so. They are constantly performing public services and supervising contracting operations. They receive many expressions of support from the public every day.

For example, I saw a picture at First Cav headquarters of a young, poor Iraqi boy in the middle of Sadr City (which is basically a ghetto). He had gotten some chalk and drawn a huge picture of the First Cav division patch on a stone that was almost as big as he was. Above the stone he had written the word “Good.” That boy knows that the Americans are protecting him from the extremists and are giving Iraq hope for the first time in decades. I will try to get this picture for the blog or my Website.

I received many similar reports from soldiers in Baghdad.

I also heard consistently, during my two days both in the South and in Baghdad, frustration at how the war is being reported. Everyone to whom I spoke, in the military, in the Iraqi cabinet, and in the State department, believes that the effort is going well–though everyone is very cautious–and that an unbalanced picture is being presented. The troops are particularly frustrated; I got an earful on this subject when I had dinner with the First Cav soldiers on Saturday night.

Call it polblogging from ground zero…

This could be Hillary’s model for real–and controlled–blogging. A foreign trip, to a war zone would be best because it would fit with what is, I assume, her basic campaign theme: “PUT A SECURITY MOM IN THE WHITEHOUSE.”

Update on Tuesday, January 3, 2006 at 01:14AM by Registered Commenterdavid.d.perlmutter

Update #1: Did not notice until she contacted me, but Arianna Huffington had posted a mock “red state” strategy memo for HC. Again, shows how blogs have pushed political insider talk into the public domain, that is open sourced it for the target audiences, your allies and your enemies.

Another example of a blog “adding value” to the political experience: Greg Birnbaum, political editor of The New York Post, is making his independent JustHillary a one-click stop for HC information. Where, in the big or old media world, would you go to get everything you wanted to know about a candidate from someone not working for the campaign?

And…blogs give voice (a megaphone) to people who used to be pretty much one-story human interest pieces in old media formulae journalism. Cindy Sheehan on “Hillary as Warmonger”:

This was also the year that we also began to hold such Republicans in Democratic clothing like Hillary Clinton, Joe Lieberman, Joe Biden, and Diane Feinstein (list is my no means all inclusive) accountable for their support of what George is doing in Iraq. When we as Democrats elect our leaders we expect them to reject and loudly repudiate the murderous and corrupt policies of this administration, not support and defend them.

There are Camp Caseys in front of Hillary’s and Chuck Schumer’s offices in Long Island every Friday, as well as one in front of Diane Feinstein’s Los Angeles office on Fridays. There has been a Camp Casey in front of Kay Bailey Hutchinson’s office in Dallas since August. Several protestors have been arrested in Dallas exercising their First Amendment rights. We need to let these warmongers, as well as the Republican warmongers, know that we mean business when we say “bring them home now.” Set up Camp Caseys in front of your Senator’s or Congressperson’s office if they support George in his wars of aggression.

This was also the year that we also began to hold such Republicans in Democratic clothing like Hillary Clinton, Joe Lieberman, Joe Biden, and Diane Feinstein (list is my no means all inclusive) accountable for their support of what George is doing in Iraq. When we as Democrats elect our leaders we expect them to reject and loudly repudiate the murderous and corrupt policies of this administration, not support and defend them.

There are Camp Caseys in front of Hillary’s and Chuck Schumer’s offices in Long Island every Friday, as well as one in front of Diane Feinstein’s Los Angeles office on Fridays. There has been a Camp Casey in front of Kay Bailey Hutchinson’s office in Dallas since August. Several protestors have been arrested in Dallas exercising their First Amendment rights. We need to let these warmongers, as well as the Republican warmongers, know that we mean business when we say “bring them home now.” Set up Camp Caseys in front of your Senator’s or Congressperson’s office if they support George in his wars of aggression.

As a political communication historian all of this is quite amazing: to my students, it is just the way politics is.

Originally posted January 2, 2006 at PolicyByBlog

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