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The Internet Government Politics

Politicians Catch on to Blogging 153

Jason Jardine wrote to mention a C|Net report on an increase in the use of blogs by politicians in the U.S. capitol. From the article: "Just a year ago, a DailyKos posting from someone like John Kerry would have been all but unheard of, and blogging of any kind by members of Congress was almost nonexistent. But now that dynamic is starting to change, and slowly, members of the House of Representatives and the Senate are beginning to appreciate the value of blogs. 'When I reach out to the blog community, it gives me an opportunity to begin a dialogue with an extremely politically sophisticated and active community that I otherwise might not be able to reach,' Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., wrote in an e-mail to CNET News.com."
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Politicians Catch on to Blogging

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  • One minor point (Score:5, Insightful)

    by winkydink ( 650484 ) * <sv.dude@gmail.com> on Thursday January 26, 2006 @02:39PM (#14570438) Homepage Journal
    If you really believe that the pols themselves are actually writing, or even reading these, I've got a bridge in Manhattan I'll let you have very cheap. This is a staffer job.
    • by j-pimp ( 177072 )
      If you really believe that the pols themselves are actually writing, or even reading these, I've got a bridge in Manhattan I'll let you have very cheap. This is a staffer job.

      I don't know of any bridges that are completly contained in New York County aka borough og Manhattan. However there are several connecting it to Jersey, da Bronx, and the barrier island I currently inhabit.
    • This is a staffer job.

      Easy solution: Enable Video Blogging [vobbo.com]

    • by Aexia ( 517457 ) on Thursday January 26, 2006 @02:48PM (#14570556)
      A John Kerry diary on DailyKos would obviously have been written by a staffer as would most "by" various Senators, but posts from House representatives and just about any candidate usually are written by the actual politician in question. My Congressman, Jim McDermott, even responds to comments to his posts.
      • As I've once or twice mentioned here, I used to be a staffer in a Congressional office. About seven years ago, I made a concerted effort to get my Member to do a Slashdot interview. It didn't pan out, but I can assure you of two things: first, that yes it probably would have been written by a staffer. And two, that the Member in question would have read it, deeply annotated and editted it, and then sent it back to be written, re-written and written once more before sending it back. That's just how it works:
      • My Congressman, Jim McDermott, even responds to comments to his posts.

        This may sound stupid, but for a moment I read McDiarmid [wikipedia.org] instead of McDermott. Can you imagine him in Congress?
    • Re:One minor point (Score:5, Informative)

      by kidgenius ( 704962 ) on Thursday January 26, 2006 @02:48PM (#14570567)
      Actually, Obama doesn't just blog, he also does a podcast. And, he speaks. So the "pols" are at least doing something, not just having interns generate stuff.
      • As any viewer of the evening news will tell you, there's a big difference between generating the content and reading it.
        • There is also a big difference between an anchorman on the nightly news reading something and a politician.

          The anchorman, everybody knows he's getting it piped in, and everybody knows that unless it's some sort of monologue piece that it's not his thoughts but those of the directory or writers.

          With a politician, everything he says is assumed to be his opinion. Would you be shocked to know that most presidents don't write their State of the Union speeches? -- gasp! But they're the ones who will get the

      • He sure is reading that stuff, which is in turn written by staffers. And I can't blame him. He's busy, and has a lot to do. The problem is the charm of blogs is that you assume that it is the direct opinion of the blogger. His mind to our screen. In this case, "blog" means an internet Press Release under a trendy name. It just lacks the "For immediate release" at the beginning and the "-30-" at the end of it.

    • Right, but the same thing goes for letters from most elected officials.
    • Even Hastert had a blog where he related his thoughts about starting a blog, old dogs and new tricks, promised to try to post new content from time to time, etc, etc. Don't know if he kept it up, but it really was him writing the content.
    • There are a lot of posts on dailyKos that talk about this, and here's a couple of quotes that sum up my own reaction:

      I hardly think a staffer posted this on his/her own. This took guts. Any staffer would know the mixed feeling and consternation this site has toward the Senator.

      and

      I fully expect that this comes from the senator, just like any press release does, just maybe not written 100% by him and I also don't see him sitting at his computer typing with one hand while reading html for dummies wit

    • ...you'll find that candidates for office will write their own blogs. In fact, in some cases, it goes the other way around -- the DailyKos blogger will go and run for office, inspired by other Kossacks.
    • I don't think this is really a staffer job. The staffers generally deal with writing replies to questions the pol has told the staff answers to. The point is that congressional offices receive a whole lot of similar letters, and having the politican actually write each response by hand isn't efficient and wouldn't actually improve the responses over having staffers write them. But blogs are probably generally written by the politicians (and probably editted by their speachwriters or something), because the
    • This is probably a true statement for people who've been in office a long time, say Teddy Kennedy or Chuck Schumer. Those people barely know what a computer is, or how to use the Internet, much less how to blog.

      It's likewise probably fairly true of party hacks who get elected. They are of the party/union/corporation, by the party/union/corporation; they really don't care what their constituents think, because they don't rely specifically on their support.

      However, among freshmen Congressmen who don't fit t
  • by ltwally ( 313043 ) on Thursday January 26, 2006 @02:41PM (#14570466) Homepage Journal
    "Just a year ago, a DailyKos posting from someone like John Kerry would have been all but unheard of..."
    And today, a DailyKos posting from John Kerry would be all but unread...
    • First time he posted, it went to the top of the recommended list. Odds are very good most DKos regulars read it.

      Q: What about non-DKos people?

      A: Who cares? DKos is for DKos readers. If a Senator wants to communicate with us, we're glad to have 'em, but they're basically just anybody else.

    • "And today, a DailyKos posting from John Kerry would be all but unread..."

      His post got more responses than just about any other in the two years I've been visiting that blog. The number of comments went well above 1000 within a couple of hours.

      What was most refreshing about the event was that many of the comments were extremely critical of Kerry and the Democratic 'mainstream'. Kerry made his points, most of which were accepted fairly readily, and did so in a forum that allowed people to respond not onl

    • I just think its interesting how during the campaign Kerry (and many others) delinked from Kos after Kos said "Screw 'em" to the contractors killed in Falluja. Now Kerry is posting from Kos? Oh well, Kerry really doesnt matter anymore. Now if Hillary Clinton or Mark Warner did this, then it would be news. But I suspect they have a better survival instinct.
  • I'm sure of it. I remember actually reading something, heck it was probably during the 2004 election.

    Now after we've had the media assailing blogging, how does this all fit together?

    "New Zork Times sez: proof you can't trust politicians, they blog! (and you know how unreliable that can be with plants and such!)"

    • You might be thinking of this story from last October...

      Speaker of the House Starts Blogging [slashdot.org]
      Posted by CowboyNeal on Thu Oct 27, '05 06:48 PM
      from the grass-roots-politics dept.
      Bjimba writes "Denny Hastert, the Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, has just started his own blog on the official speaker.gov site. I don't know if he'll keep up with it, but from reading his initial post, it seems clear that he's not employing ghostbloggers."
  • by superwiz ( 655733 ) on Thursday January 26, 2006 @02:42PM (#14570475) Journal
    Modern electoral politics is all about leverging centralized media influence on people who are too lazy to find their own sources of info. Bloggin is just the opposite -- it allows people to seek the opinions of strangers rather than just passively receive them. It won't work for the mass-distribution of the lies whose sole intent is to empower corruption that has become modern political process.
    • Riiiiight.
    • Perhaps this is a step towards bringing the political process closer to home. Blogging may not have a great impact on national politics but think about its potential for local politics - the offices held by the poor bastards on the bottom, who make decisions every day that directly affect the people around them. Here's a way to bring the town meeting into your living room, or coffee shop, or library. I don't expect miracles, but I'd bet you that some politicians will embrace the medium.
    • The centralized media is going away. LA Times and NY Times subscriptions are plummeting. Television news broadcasts have dismal ratings. The entire news landscape is changing. People today are getting a lot of their news from talk radio, portals, and blogs.
    • DKos is part of the Democratic party's base. In fact, it's probably the part of the base that's most likely to work elections and donate money.

      As the GOP demonstrated in 2002 and 2004, elections these days are all about getting out your base.

  • It's almost impossible to verify that someone is "The real ______" - I can't see any real politician trying to post on a site like Slashdot, DailyKos, Fark, K5, etc - there's no way to verify who they really are.

    It would be easier to establish their own blogs that enable reader-feedback / comments - at least then people "know" who the real Senator / Congressman / Staffer is, and who's just making up a funny name.
  • Howard Dean (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mysqlrocks ( 783488 ) on Thursday January 26, 2006 @02:42PM (#14570481) Homepage Journal
    This all start with the Howard Dean campaign using blogging and other online tools to raise money. Now other politicians are catching on to how they can use it. Blogging is old news to slashdotters but I'm sure there are a lot of politicians who still would ask, "What's a blog again?" In the next few years (maybe in '08) I predict someone will tap into the power of wikis for campaigning and fund-raising purposes. But let's let them get their heads around blogs first :-)
    • Politicians may not know what the word means, but they've heard it all right. You hit the nail on the head:

      This all start(ed) with the Howard Dean campaign using blogging and other online tools to raise money.

      They caught that last part, believe me.

      Heck, even beyond the money, politicos used "the blogosphere" with some success to spin their issues in the '04 election cycle, mere months after Dean's Iowa flameout. The newest wave of "Swift Boat Veteran" groups will try to drive all sorts of political w

    • Most of them would never really get blogs, they are too much control freaks even worse would be installing slash-code! Imagine explaining the /. system to a politician.
  • What's the big difference between a politician's blog and their already sanitized websites? I'm sure that even if they are the ones writing entries, they have them reviewed before posting.
    • "What's the big difference between a politician's blog and their already sanitized websites? I'm sure that even if they are the ones writing entries, they have them reviewed before posting."

      Good question. In Kerry's case, I'd say the difference is the fact that he didn't post to his own site. He posted to a site that he (or his staffers) would certainly have known has a significant contingent of people who are extremely critical to him, his style and his tactics. He opened himself up to a fair drubbing: P

  • Did he just say "extremely politically sophisticated"? Is this guy connected tot he same net as the rest of us?
  • Media ownership (Score:2, Insightful)

    by PIPBoy3000 ( 619296 )
    It may also be a way to bypass the more common venue of television, which some argue is becoming increasingly controlled by Republican interests. Newspapers are generally seen as more liberal, though readership is declining across the board. Regardless of who controls the big television news outlets, I think it's extremely valuable to have a broad range of methods for politicians to reach constituents.
    • It may also be a way to bypass the more common venue of television, which some argue is becoming increasingly controlled by Republican interests.

      Say rather that television is beholden to market forces. Most of America is essentially conservative, even much of the portion that votes Democrat (your union guy? He hunts and fishes and drives an SUV, he's not watching PBS at night). If that changes, television will seem more "liberal" but it's not really, it's just giving people what they'll pay for.

    • Regardless of who controls the big television news outlets, I think it's extremely valuable to have a broad range of methods for politicians to reach constituents.

      And far more valuable to have a broad range of methods for constituents to reach politicians.
  • It seems to me that a politician's blog is the ideal target for the other side's (both sides have them) stupid teenagers. I mean, if /. gets trolled, imagine the White House blog!
    • I'm confused. Your sig says you're starting a new political party. But the front page of the party site says you're a Democrat. So, you already have a political party, then, right?
      • This is OT. I'm a Democrat because there's nothing better right now. Ideally, I'd like to change that. Just like I use a Mac not because it is perfect to my needs, but because it is best suited to them.
  • Ummmm.... there have been plotical blogs for years now. I mean ones written "by politicians". John Kerry and G-dubya both had blogs durring their compaigns. Old news.
  • Old news in canada (Score:1, Interesting)

    by guysmilee ( 720583 )
    In the canadian election that just past most parties and blogs and or podcasts. The thing I personally found interesting was the fact that a poorly written blog that effectively says nothing really effected my vote. For example I found the liberal party blog extremely bad ... and I actually changed my vote because of it. I really hope politicians are savy about this (especially the "good politicians").
  • I'm sorry, but watching even a few political advertisements has me wanting to vomit from the amount of mud slinging and self-praising. This applies to all politicians, btw.

    My question and concern is that such "blogs" may fall outside of current legal restrictions and requirements for truthful dissemination of information and whether there will be invasions of privacy by the posting of competitor politician's private information behind password protected dicussion groups on such blogs.

    Not that such may not

    • But it also means that people who follow a particular candidate or party will only be even more isolated and less exposed to the counter arguments of the other party/candidates.

      The opposite is happening. If you want to hear current Libertarian or Green thought, you won't find it in traditional media, but you'll find scads of it on the blogosphere. And not at the bottom of the pile either, as many of the top blogs are libertarian or progressive.
    • My question and concern is that such "blogs" may fall outside of current legal restrictions and requirements for truthful dissemination of information..
      Do you have the same question and concern for stories and comments on slashdot? Surely slashdot has more power than any of the political blogs (even dKos) due to its vast readership and so should be subject to any such rules?
  • Can't wait. (Score:5, Funny)

    by sammy baby ( 14909 ) on Thursday January 26, 2006 @02:57PM (#14570679) Journal
    I, for one, can't wait to see what our elected representatives choose to put on their LiveJournals.

    And then, he told me that he was going to take away my chairmanship of the Joint Subcommitte on Intelligence! The whip is a douchebag! I'm going to eat a whole bag of oreos.
    Listening to: How Soon Is Now
    Mood: Depressed
    • Mood: Depressed :(

      He'd better not add the emoticon or he'll get sued [slashdot.org].
    • I have an image of John Kerry dressed up as Morrissey now.

      Thanks a fuckin bunch.
    • You know I similiarly made fun of LiveJournal to my girlfriend the other day (she uses it). Her response?

      "Slashdot? 'ooooh, look at my pseudo-intellectual supposedly clever but really quite lame reply to this completely irrelevant and totally geeky news story. I will mention something lame about bill Gates or bombs or a jab at Apple or Linux just because i think that's what everyone wants to read, but really, no one cares. w00tage!'"

      Ouuuch!
  • by Lord_Slepnir ( 585350 ) on Thursday January 26, 2006 @02:59PM (#14570705) Journal
    I was having a conversation with a friend of mine who is a political science major. He raised the point that in 10-20 years, politicians might regret what they had written in blogs. Imagine if John Q Polly is running for congressman, and someone digs up an old LiveJournal entry from back in his college days where he says something like "Screw the military. Every one of those dead US soldiers got what they deserved by working for the man". A stupid, impulsive comment which if brought to light would probally destroy his chances at office. 20-30 years ago his father might have said something like that in an editorial for the Berkley Daily, but on a web log it's a lot more accessable. Just a random thought.
  • I would like to applaud all moves by current democrat politicians, including Kerry, to try to appeal to the readers of sites like Daily Kos and Democratic Underground. It'll really make for some great ads.

    In general politicians need to be very careful where they post. Some/most people on Daily Kos may be are pretty fair to the left and still sane and intelligent, but there are plenty of extremely anti-american, anti-capitalist users and comments on there that no US politican (outside of the bay area) would
    • Great ads? Perhaps I'm confused, but I don't understand why assholes like you have this knee-jerk reaction to go negative on pols addressing online communities full of people actively participating in a debate on issues affecting the country.

      Or is it just because conservatives are so fucking dumb that they actually believe that by addressing a particular audience a speaker endorses everything every individual member of that audience says.

      • by rblum ( 211213 )
        You know what? The original poster had a good point - it *is* important how you present yourself. As long as you keep it in sync with what you purport to represent, nothing wrong with that.

        You know another thing? I'm sick and tired of people resorting to foul language at any and every opportunity. The grandparent was a civilized post - you're presenting the image of somebody foaming at the mouth. And that's *exactly* the image that no politican - left or right - wants to associate with.

        • Re:As a conservative (Score:3, Interesting)

          by acaben ( 80896 ) *
          Well, I am foaming at the mouth. Go ahead, attack me for being angry and using language that upsets your delicate sensitivities, but I'm sick and fucking tired of idiots like the original poster attempting to paint all democratic politicians with the fringe brush because they choose to address large and diverse communities that, at the very edges, have some people who spout unpopular ideas. (And I'm tired of my side doing the same thing to republicans, too.) It's weak and intellectually dishonest, and I don
          • I'm being totally honest when I say: Please become _more_ involved with the DNC. Thank you.
            • I'm sure you are being honest, just as I'm sure you're being honest that you think Dem politicians posting at dKos will matter one iota to anyone outside the wingnut community, much less be seen as a net negative.

              Fortunately, your basic (and painfully evident) problem isn't a lack of honesty. It's a basic inability to discern what the average person thinks and cares about. Don't feel bad; it's a common affliction among far-righters, many of whom still think that most people agree with them on issues ranging
          • I care about the future of this country too. Heck - I immigrated here, so I'm here by choice, not by default. I'm a regular reader of dKos, but I'm also not closing my eyes to reality. The overwhelming majority of Americans are polite people. Cussing in public is neither appealing to them, nor going to convince them.

            If you want to change politics in a democracy (Yeah, yeah. Federal republic), you need to convince that majority that your ideas are better. If the average person doesn't know about an issue and
        • Heh - and look at this stupidfoo guy - he posts on slashdot where people are constantly foaming at the mouth... best not take him seriously as he associates with potty mouths. But seriously - pressing guilt by association in large communities is just plain idiotic. If you can convince someone other than your base of that, then more power to you, I suppose, but you'll lose credibility from anyone who knows better.

          Suppression of the "over the line" posts is (part of) what moderation is for, regardless of

      • Great ads? Perhaps I'm confused
        Yes, you seem to be.

        but I don't understand why assholes

        Why in the world is attacking me necessary? I really don't get it.

        like you have this knee-jerk reaction to go negative on pols addressing online communities full of people actively participating in a debate on issues affecting the country.

        The point was that I believe that a lot of the discussion on DailyKos (which I read most days and participate in some) is pretty far left. Many (most?) of the time far enough that it migh
    • Why conservative politicians don't post commentary on conservative blogs, because the commentators on those sites are frequently disappointed out government isn't more like the Nazis rather than less.(don't believe me, check out lgf, freeperville)

      Glenn Reynolds explained yesterday [washingtonpost.com] during a panel on blogger ethics that he doesn't allow comments on instapundit because he doesn't want to be associated with their extremism. Which is interesting, as he frequently links to such examples on other blogs to prove h
    • Yeah it'll make for great ads on conservative blogs, as that's the only place where an argument as stupid as "He posts on DailyKos!!11" would work. Go ahead and waste money preaching to the choir..
      • Here's a reverse example. Conservative Politican A posts on LittleGreenFootballs. A pretty far to the right site. On the discussion his post starts people start discussing nuking Mecca (or something else).

        An easy ad: "Politican A posts on LGF. LGF discusses nuking Mecca. Should we trust Pol A to correclty guide our policy?"

        Now reverse it. Liberal Pol B posts on Daily Kos. In the discussion someone calls the troops baby killers, stormtroopers, and nazi thugs (all of which I've seen on there, and worse).

        An ea
        • How about this:
          GoP tries to get the nation laughing at the Democrats for even thinking of selecting Howard Dean for DNC chair. Conservatives online and off do their darndest to convince Democrats that selecting Dean is signing their own deathwarrants. He'll be a lightning rod for negative attention, etc., etc. "Please! Select Dean!" they cry (sound familiar?)

          Fast forward one year, and surprise! No one cares that Dean was selected, except for the Democrats, who 1) feel energized by his involvement and p
    • Ads like that might whip up the Republican base, but that's about it. Besides, if you want some real nutcases, give Little Green Footballs a whirl.

      • What I find humorous about LGF readers and Kos readers is that they point at each other as being crazy nutcases. LGF's anti-muslim tyrades go a little far at times, and most non-conformists are routinely chastised. On the other hand, if you don't worship at the alter of BushLied(Tm) and BushSpied(Tm) over at Kos, you have a chance at being banned. While not the most informative conversation, many people find talking in an echo chamber to be very reassuring and affirming.
        • On the other hand, if you don't worship at the alter of BushLied(Tm) and BushSpied(Tm) over at Kos, you have a chance at being banned.

          Quite frankly, it sounds to me like you trolled DKos and got rightly banned for your trouble. You might want to consider the tone of your posts next time.

          While not the most informative conversation, many people find talking in an echo chamber to be very reassuring and affirming.

          True enough, which is why I stay away from most of the diaries. They're a little too rah-ra

          • Well, I made the mistake of posting a quote from Clinton discussing the threat that Iraq posed to the US in a discussion of BushLied(Tm) ;)
            • I doubt that was the reason that you got banned. People post anti-Clinton (both Bill and Hil) tirades on DKos all the time, since it's part and parcel of any progressive blog to bash the right wing of the Democratic Party.

              No; I'd say it's because you were using typical framing points the GOP hands down from on high, such as:

              • Using "Democrat" as the adjectivial form instead of "Democratic";
              • Calling Clinton a radical;
              • Calling anyone who disagrees with you a communist, a terrorist, or a traitor;
              • Conflating
        • LGF's anti-muslim tyrades go a little far at times

          That's sort of like saying that the Klingons have a little problem with the Romulans.

  • Which population is he talking about? Surely not the American one which actively voted in an unsophisticated monkey such as George Bush. He gives you hicks and backwoodsmen more credit than you deserve,
    • unsophisticated monkey such as George Bush.

      That is the act. Ivy league rich kid born with a silver spoon in his mouth who never had to work for anything in his life, but decided acting like a texas rancher would be fun. Which act got him elected governor of Texas and president of the US.
  • Is if they actually got involved full time with the blogosphere, at the same level as the "A-list" bloggers. Same legal restrictions, everything. And one other, very important thing. It's not enough that they open up comments, they need to do trackbacks to. Nothing can get a debate going on between bloggers like trackbacks. They're a good way to make sure that the other side doesn't have an excuse to make wild assertions and then say, "well no one challenged me."

    Of course they'd shit a brick if people start
  • "...the blog community, it gives me an opportunity to begin a dialogue with an extremely politically sophisticated and active community that I otherwise might not be able to reach,' Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., wrote

    Come to think of it, I have been seeing alot of this guy "ß/\®/\|{" on Slashdot lately.
  • OK, which one of you traitors tipped off the politicians that these things called computers exist? Politicians should be treated like mushrooms: keep them in the dark and feed them bull.
  • If you're in the UK, you might want to visit some of the weblogs written by our Members of Parliament.

  • 1.12.06

    I hate my boss. I prolly already told you I got a job in politics. I can't tell you what it is without giving away my ID, but trust me when I say I've got a hardass boss - "Bob" Cheney.

    He's got me into this ...conflict... where he tells me what to do, and I get all the blame when it goes wrong. I'm like: "Bob, why are we doing this again?" And he's all like "Geopolitical Interest this, and Economic Superiority that, and Strategic Base the other. He doesn't even explain it good, and when I ask qu
  • And we'd believe their blogs over what they say on TV or in other forms of media why? This is just another way to spread lies, or rather not divulge the whole truth (which is as I was taught a lie).

    Someone above seemed to be making that point when envisioning a post that would never be about the majority whip being a real douche (his words). We're not going to learn anything new here we wouldn't have learned elsewhere so I see nothing fantastic about this news.

  • I don't think the family of "blog" terms should be applied to any type of web page where there are no reader comments and no interaction. A press release with a more personal voice does not constitute this.
  • ...to decency, honesty, and working for their constituents.
  • http://www.montesolberg.com/blog.htm [montesolberg.com]
    Monte has been blogging for a while now, and "eventhough" he doesn't have my political views usually, he's witty and smarmy which makes for a good read.

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