Interesting article in the New York Times about the impact of blogs on the Lieberman/Lamont primary: In Race, Bloggers Throw Curves and Spitballs. The title should tell you what’s coming: hand-wringing about the role of blogs in political discourse, combined with laments about the maturity of blog writers and a harkening back to the good old days when the campaign controlled “the message.” In fact, the second page contains what is perhaps the perfect quotation, from a pro-Lieberman blogger:
Mr. Gerstein complained that for all the reasoned arguments by some bloggers, too many resort to crude humor and angry diatribes that “don’t pass the maturity test.”
“Too much of what passes for political commentary in the blogosphere is pretty juvenile and petulant, and that’s not the way you persuade people,” he said. “If the blogging community is going to have a real impact, they’re going to have to have a reckoning soon about their place in the real political world, because in that world there’s a caricature of them as being dominated by crazies.”
You can quote me on this: that’s a bunch of sanctimonious bullshit.
First of all, the quotation shows a profound misunderstanding of the nature of blogging and bloggers. There is no “dominating” the blogosphere, just as there is no controlling its speech. Blogging is free speech. Everyone is free to say whatever they want to say in a blog about any political race. The campaign can wring its hands, but the truth is that people have opinions that aren’t in sync with the message that the campaigns want to project. Really, the last thing that the people who have opinions about politics want is to have those opinions subjugated to the message of the campaign. That has never worked, from the Roman forum through the water cooler, and it won’t work in the blogosphere. If I want to state an opinion in the blogosphere, I’m free to do so.
In fact, let’s state two. First: Joe Lieberman’s argument that questioning the administration’s actions in Iraq is equivalent to acting against the country’s interests isso servile, craven, reprehensible and counter to the interests of democracy that they constitute a dereliction of his duty as a senator. Second. Ned Lamont is coasting pretty well on anti-Lieberman anger among the base and has a long way to go before he can prove to me that a Senator Lamont won’t be the new boss, same as the old boss.
See how easy that is? It’s speech. It’s free. And if you don’t like it, respond in kind. Don’t try to silence me.
Finally, I think the most fundamental misunderstanding here is the conflation of anti-Lieberman blogs with organized opposition. While some of them may well fall into that camp, I’m pretty sure there are a bunch—like me—who are just citizens with opinions and a publishing tool. And when you look at it in that light, it becomes a different argument. Consider:
…for all the reasoned arguments by some voters, too many resort to crude humor and angry diatribes that “don’t pass the maturity test.”
“Too much of what passes for political commentary in the electorate is pretty juvenile and petulant, and that’s not the way you persuade people,” he said. “If the voting community is going to have a real impact, they’re going to have to have a reckoning soon about their place in the real political world, because in that world there’s a caricature of them as being dominated by crazies.” [Emphasized words substituted to prove the point]
Bottom line: the bloggers are citizens. You should respond to them accordingly. In the final analysis, the best thing to do is to respond with persuasive speech, and there hasn’t been anything from either the Lieberman campaign or his independent supporters that persuades me that he’s worth keeping around.