This week provides us with a wonderful case in point. There has been a huge stink about the two great liberal bloggers hired by the Edwards campaign [did they get fired? Gladly NO!]. A conservative Catholic guardian of public morality named Donahue, a man who demonstrates what bigotry is by feeling the need to apply that word to half the people he writes about, cried out that Edwards' new left wing writing talent had written naughty words and often ridiculed faith and the failthful, particulary of Mr. Donahue's denomination. That is all the closer Mr. Donahue ever reads Pandagon posts, all the more subtlety he can bear. Coturnix, one of the most avid scanners and assiduous collectors of the scattered welters of news and opinion that like the cascaded firing of neurons through the blogosphere, has put most of the development of the story together in one voluminous collection of links. By mid day the drama of whether or not Edwards would dismiss Amanda or Melissa was resolved in a way that relieved most liberal bloggers but involved enough equivocation for the righteous wing partisans to predict some blowback and the least compromising liberals [i.e. those whose life's work in science has been baselessly attacked by fundamentalists] to complain that Amanda in particular has been damned by faint praise. You really ought to read some of the stuff Coturnix has linked to get the flavor of the "discourse". It is way too much to put in focus and in fact I am not sure any one conclusion I have read could pass for the "last word".
For what it is worth, these events have settled a few things in my mind:
Disliking party politics as much as I do, I have not yet taken a hard look at any of the candidates and so had no particular impressions of Edwards' character. But now I think:
- He sticks by people for their character and ability rather than abandoning them for their inconvenient peccadilloes.
- He does not bow to wingnuttery, I hope he learns how to sink swiftboats.
- Edwards can deal with the realities of political communication in an online world.
But bottling the lightning of blogger authenticity is not easy. Many blogosphere activists suspect anyone signing on with a campaign of selling out. And in the era of drum-tight message control, campaigns are not inclined to tolerate the independence bloggers need to maintain their credibility.
Regarding disciplined and tight message control, Edwards' campaign does not need that as a Rove-run campaign would. Edwards is going to campaign by building consensus openly and by offering the nation a chance to rediscover its innate conscience. Consensus is the best art of a politician and not of great use to a blogger. A conscience on the other hand has been missing from our politics the last six years and these two women will redress some of that. Message control is vital to Mr. Rove's art of careful fibbing to diverse single-issue minorities. That craft built him an unstable majority and, except for vetoed stem cell research and neanderthals on the bench, produced few of the long term gains those minorities were promised. Time Mag can be forgiven for profoundly misunderstanding "message control"...it is largely an outdated product of the well controlled MSM of which Time is one of the prime exhibits despite a glitzy blogger on their site. The media culture of a blogged world is far different and puts the job of control and spin on the consumer. The "truth" of anything is suspect anyway nowadays and largely because of the way MSM have controlled stories and said what they got paid to and not what they were afraid to. Only a person with fear of alternative sources, no computer and a TV with one channel has an excuse to fail to quickly confirm offered facts and opinions in this era.
I do not hold so highly a truth I am just told.
I will interact with information before I am sold.