Saturday, April 1, 2006

Those Things Called “Blogs”

Adam Nagourney at the New York Times discovers this amazing phenom in politics. It’s called “the internet.”

Democrats and Republicans are sharply increasing their use of e-mail, interactive Web sites, candidate and party blogs, and text-messaging to raise money, organize get-out-the-vote efforts and assemble crowds for rallies. The Internet, they said, appears to be far more efficient, and less costly, than the traditional tools of politics, notably door knocking and telephone banks.

Analysts say the campaign television advertisement, already diminishing in influence with the proliferation of cable stations, faces new challenges as campaigns experiment with technology that allows direct messaging to more specific audiences, and through unconventional means.

Those include podcasts featuring a daily downloaded message from a candidate and so-called viral attack videos, designed to trigger peer-to-peer distribution by e-mail chains, without being associated with any candidate or campaign. Campaigns are now studying popular Internet social networks, like Friendster and Facebook, as ways to reach groups of potential supporters with similar political views or cultural interests.

And get this: only the Democrats seem to be the ones who are finding the internet to be problematic for their campaigns.

Bloggers, for all the benefits they might bring to both parties, have proved to be a complicating political influence for Democrats. They have tugged the party consistently to the left, particularly on issues like the war, and have been openly critical of such moderate Democrats as Senator Joseph I. Lieberman of Connecticut.

As if the Republicans don’t have their share of blogs that are steering them to the right? Free Republic? Town Hall? Michelle Malkin? The gang at Powerline? LGF? For every Kos, Atrios, and the legions of smaller-circulation blogs, including this one, that tug to the left, there are just as many on the right that do the same — and with a lot more shrillness. We’re snarky; they’re just plain scary.

Mr. Nagourney could do his homework a little more thoroughly. (For one thing, labeling Joe Lieberman as a “moderate” Democrat seems to be a redefinition of the term. He’s our version of John McCain — enough of an annoyance to get a lot of press but not exactly accomplish anything.) And if the Democrats are being pulled to the left, that puts them just about in the center considering how far the Republicans have gone over to the right. Since the majority of Americans now see the Democrats as being right on such issues as the war, security, and basic human rights for all citizens, that’s a problem the Democrats can certainly live with.