Campaign Bloggers Open Thread

Dear political campaigns – don’t hire me. Honestly, sometimes I skim through the archives and cringe a little.

In general I understand the instinct to incorporate bloggers into political campaigns. After all, few people understand a new media better than the new medianauts themselves. That said, in many cases it probably is not the greatest idea. As much fun as blogging can be and as eager as campaigns often are to tap into the latest communication medium, blogging tech exists at a weird juncture between immediacy and permanence. We constantly communicate in first drafts, with all the attendant messiness that rushed communication implies, but our words stay out there forever, archived and easily accessed by Google.

In fact I doubt that many of us would withstand scrutiny of an oppo research firm with millions to spend and quick access to the noise machine. To me it just seems inherently perilous to seek out a blogger who is at the same time popular, ideologically reliable (e.g., won’t undercut the campaign when you violate his/her internal principles or pet issue) and whose past won’t embarrass you in some way. Maybe I will incur the wrath of the blogging triumphalists for this, but it might be a better idea overall if high-profile campaigns hired experienced, low-profile IT professionals to handle their online operations. One prominent personality seems like enough for most political campaigns to manage.

Consider this an open thread.

*** Update by John ***

That goes double for me. Plus, if you hire me, I can’t savage you. What fun is that?






51 replies
  1. 1
    Bubblegum Tate says:

    Also, hiring an on-staff blogger just seems like the present-day version of playing the sax on Arsenio: trying to show that you are “totally down” with “what’s now.” It’s just a lame, shorthand attempt to score cool points with a certain target audience.

    On a different topic…Pajamas Media is taking ads from Girls Gone Wild? Don’t you know that emboldens teh terrists!?!?!? Do you want a jihad on your ad server?

  2. 2
    Keith says:

    What’s with people demanding other people lose their jobs so much, anyway? It seems to be the pinnacle (or nadir as the case may be) of detached arrogance to proclaim that someone should be summarily fired when the one making the demand has little involvement outside being an observing party. But I guess if I had lasers coming out of my eyes, I’d probably indiscriminately zap people on a whim just the same.

  3. 3
    pharniel says:

    those girls can Jihad me anytime they want.
    they can jihad all over me.

    and yes, they just need to hire an it goon to ghost write the ‘travel blog’ of the canidate.
    maybe network a bit.

    A lurker might be good for this. No record, up on all the blogs….

  4. 4
    pharniel says:

    Kieth – I think that the issue here is that the dear leader of the heretic catholic sect that whasshisname controlls in this country bassically put it on the glass and said “her or me and mine. and me and mine have more votes”.

  5. 5
    Pb says:

    All the best bloggers are basically subjected to constant, distributed “oppo research” every day they post–I mean, at some point, you’re going to say or do something that’s going to piss off someone, and they’ll try to smear you for it. See: Kos, Glenn Greenwald, etc., etc. I wouldn’t necessarily expect that to stop a political campaign from hiring either of them, though, and most of the accusations and passions involved is totally inside the blogosphere and largely irrelevant to the campaign in question. However, there’s still an analysis to be made first, and there always is, blogosphere or no–i.e., how much baggage are we talking about? My feeling is that you’d be fine, Tim F.; some other bloggers, not so much.

  6. 6
    Redhand says:

    My feeling is that you’d be fine, Tim F.; some other bloggers, not so much.

    Well, I think that really depends on what part of the political campaign spectrum Tim would be situated. To me he’s left-of-center, tending extreme sometimes. A weathervane candidate like Hillary would have lots of problems if she enlisted him, IMHO.

  7. 7
    Pb says:

    Redhand,

    I think it’s pretty obvious that the personal opinions of a blogger aren’t necessarily going to match up 1:1 with those of the candidate, nor should they, no more than you should require that from any other staffer–personal opinions are just that. The only justifiable issue here, IMO, is that of baggage, i.e., skeletons in the closet, emotional controversies, etc. And on that front, I don’t think Tim F. has much to fear, at least not that I’ve seen from his blog posts–I’ve found him to be a very responsible blogger, surely more responsible than many mainstream journalists, sad to say.

  8. 8
    Myrtle Parker says:

    You know I kind of expect that when a presidential campaign hires someone as a spokesperson that they actually do a little research into the beliefs and opinions of said spokesperson. I imagine that someone from Edwards campaign (probably his wife) knew of Amanda and her writing and liked it and her positions. They chose to let her be their spokesman online.

    Like it or not, that says something about his campaign. Let him defend her or take up her causes. Don’t chicken out and fire her now.

    And let’s quit crying about how the meany right is trying to get people fired. Had this been McCain’s crowd hiring a prolific freeper as online spokesman no one would be crying that to let the guy have a job. Sheesh.

  9. 9

    Well said, Tim. In a few years, I think we’ll also see political candidates derailed due to blogs they once had. Blogs that were probably read by fewer than ten people. Everytime I see some college freshman write about (or post pictures of) his or her drunken exploits on MySpace, I cringe.

  10. 10
    Pb says:

    Myrtle Parker,

    Personally, were I Edwards and I wanted to keep her on, I’d release a statement saying that her personal opinions are just that, and although Edwards may disagree about specific points, she’s entitled to her views, and to express them, and she should express them, but all of that is separate from the political work that she’ll doing for the campaign, and indeed was not endorsed or sanctioned by it (obviously, seeing as how it predates it), etc., etc.

  11. 11
    carpeicthus says:

    I don’t think I’ve ever written a post that would withstand opposition research. Fuck ’em.

  12. 12
    carpeicthus says:

    McCain’s crowd HAS hired a public Freeper a spokeman. You lose.

  13. 13
    Myrtle Parker says:

    Pb, yah, but the point is that at least some of Amanda’s opinions must be shared by the Edwards campaign. Someone had to hire her and for some reason. I can only imagine that someone (I suspect his wife since she is widely known to be well read in the blogosphere) read her regularly and liked her writings/opinions. If this is so and Edwards shares her opinions, then let him champion them.

  14. 14
    Pooh says:

    Speaking of oppo research (and in the spirit of pen threadiness), Tony Dungy might be an asshole.

  15. 15
    Myrtle Parker says:

    carpeicthus,

    McCain’s crowd HAS hired a public Freeper a spokeman. You lose.

    Yah, and no one is whining that the poor guy is going to get fired because some on the left are criticizing McCain’s decision to hire him.

    You lose.

  16. 16
    pharniel says:

    he’s a head coach of a major football franchise. I kinda just assumed….

  17. 17
    Pb says:

    Myrtle Parker,

    the point is that at least some of Amanda’s opinions must be shared by the Edwards campaign. Someone had to hire her and for some reason.

    Yeah, but who? I don’t know anything about the internals Edwards campaign, so I wouldn’t accuse them of being that organized, or knowledgeable regarding blogs, or of necessarily doing that much due diligence. For all I know, she could have been recommended by a friend, or this could have been largely done by their campaign manager (or lower?), or… etc., etc.

  18. 18
    Ryan S. says:

    OT but a disturbing fact.
    KKK resurgance

  19. 19
    Pb says:

    Myrtle Parker,

    Cause and effect:

    I do not know of many bloggers, or citizens generally, who do not have some views that would be offensive to large groups of people and who periodically express those views in less than demure ways, but if that is going to be the standard, we ought to apply it universally to all bloggers who are affiliated with political campaigns.
    […]
    One does not need to agree with the Marcotte or McEwan’s comments in order to realize the absurdity here, but if this is going to be the standard that is applied, I don’t think there are many bloggers, if there are any, who will be able to be affiliated with political campaigns in the future. Whatever is the case, the standards should be applied equally, not driven by the hysterical lynch-mob behavior that is the fuel of the right-wing blogosphere.

  20. 20
    Myrtle Parker says:

    Sure. But then this has always been true. Were Hillary to hire LaRouche as any part of her campaign, her rivals would use it against her. And rightly so.

    Yes, Virginia, we _are_ all responsible for our own words and actions.

  21. 21
    Krista says:

    Had this been McCain’s crowd hiring a prolific freeper as online spokesman no one would be crying that to let the guy have a job. Sheesh

    Heck, no. We’d all be positively gleeful, and would be jostling each other for front-row seats to the inevitable implosion of craziness.

  22. 22

    Yah, and no one is whining that the poor guy is going to get fired because some on the left are criticizing McCain’s decision to hire him.

    You lose.

    That’s dated February 7th. Looks to me like it’s in response to, rather than cause for.

    Frankly, I don’t care. I don’t like Edwards, and I’d rather McCain come out of the closet about how much he loves freepers.

  23. 23

    John Norris Brown said:

    Well said, Tim. In a few years, I think we’ll also see political candidates derailed due to blogs they once had. Blogs that were probably read by fewer than ten people.

    Yep, I agree. It would be great if we could also get past the strange notion that anyone who runs for president can’t have, say, tried marijuana. I was hoping that then-Gov. Bush would put a stop to that stuff, by saying, “yeah, I tried everything, bug off.” But he addressed his coke-and-whores-and-AWOL past with characteristic weaselitude.

    Everytime I see some college freshman write about (or post pictures of) his or her drunken exploits on MySpace, I cringe.

    Well, that’s creepy. Stop hunting around MySpace.

  24. 24

    […] This whole episode brings up some rather interesting questions about blogs and their compatibility with political campaigns. Tim F. argues: In fact I doubt that many of us would withstand scrutiny of an oppo research firm with millions to spend and quick access to the noise machine. To me it just seems inherently perilous to seek out a blogger who is at the same time popular, ideologically reliable (e.g., won’t undercut the campaign when you violate his/her internal principles or pet issue) and whose past won’t embarrass you in some way. Maybe I will incur the wrath of the blogging triumphalists for this, but it might be a better idea overall if high-profile campaigns hired experienced, low-profile IT professionals to handle their online operations. One prominent personality seems like enough for most political campaigns to manage. […]

  25. 25
    Krista says:

    Everytime I see some college freshman write about (or post pictures of) his or her drunken exploits on MySpace, I cringe.

    That IS pretty bad, actually. I’ve never visited MySpace, but have heard tales of people posting some pretty compromising information and/or pictures, and you just know that it’s going to come back and haunt them someday. I never post anything on the internet that I wouldn’t have wanted my grandmother to read. (Mind you, my grandmother was a bawdy old dame, so the bar isn’t set too high.)

  26. 26
    dreggas says:

    Well not that my blog is important or read that often (and I should start posting more to it) but honestly I wouldn’t want to go work for anyone’s campaign. Get paid to blog? Sure. Get paid to blog about a candidate and be their cheerleader? Hell no.

    I like the fact that via my blog I reserve the right to call someone an asshat when they deserve it. I like the fact that I can get my thoughts out on a particular subject without having to filter it with flowery language and that it is I and I alone who bears responsibility for my views.

    Further, to me, if you are a blogger and go work for a politicians campaign specifically, then you are a kiss ass and lose credibility (if you had any to begin with). Now granted there are a lot of blogs that tout candidates constantly, but the big difference is they aren’t getting paid to.

    I kind of liken it to hacking, back in the day when it took skill (before the script kiddies) anyone who went to work for an anti-virus firm, or computer security firm was selling out in the community’s eyes. Same goes for bloggers who sell out to campaigns.

    (Note for those who get all paranoid when someone says Hacker, there is a big BIG difference between a hacker and a virus writing, computer damaging, DOS attack launching cracker with no life)

  27. 27
    zzyzx says:

    It looks like we have one fewer Republican to worry about:

    Mr. Romney is mulling over a cut in the top personal tax rate to 30 percent from 35 percent, as well as a reduction in the corporate income tax, and deep cuts in Medicare and Social Security benefits.He’s also expected to propose an expansion in tax-free savings accounts.

    Oh please run on a platform of cutting SS Benefits in order to give a tax cut to the wealthiest Americans. In fact, let’s have this idea be stolen by other candidates too. That’ll give us Florida and Arizona for free.

  28. 28
    Myrtle Parker says:

    Greenwald is reporting that Salon is reporting that the Edwards campaign has just in fact fired Amanda. Apparently some in the Edwards camp are denying this.

  29. 29
    cleek says:

    Everytime I see some college freshman write about (or post pictures of) his or her drunken exploits on MySpace, I cringe.

    long before MySpace, there was Usenet. i’m not proud of a lot of the stuff still lingering on out there, under my real name. so naive.

    damn you Deja/Google

  30. 30

    Echoing Pooh in another thread: what did Shakes do wrong?

  31. 31

    Oh please run on a platform of cutting SS Benefits in order to give a tax cut to the wealthiest Americans. In fact, let’s have this idea be stolen by other candidates too. That’ll give us Florida and Arizona for free.

    Romney has to. McCain is tying up the religious right vote. Romney and giulliani have to go for the business vote. So he’s on the Tax cuts for everybody party platform.

    This is just to get the nomination. If he were to run for the general, he’d back away from all of this.

    Same with how McCain suddenly won’t know who Jesus is if he gets the nomination.

  32. 32
    Alex says:

    The only campaign blog I’ve seen that seemed like a good idea was the Liberal Party campaign blog during the last Canadian federal election. They got a speechwriter named Scott Feschuk to do it (he had no previously-documented blogging history), and it wasn’t really political at all – it read more like his way of blowing off steam after having to deal with politics the rest of the time. He wrote little Dave Barry-esque anecdotes about being on the campaign trail and dealing with oddly-timed flights and hotel breakfasts and annoying media events, and was generally just refreshingly funny, rather than polemic or over-scripted. Even Conservatives were linking to him approvingly during the campaign, with the result that he ended up attracting people to the Liberal Party website who wouldn’t otherwise have gone there.

    In the end, the Liberals lost anyway, but Feschuk now has a paid job blogging for a national news magazine. Today’s entry about the crazy astronaut diaper lady and Ted Haggard is pretty good.

  33. 33
    zzyzx says:

    This is just to get the nomination. If he were to run for the general, he’d back away from all of this.

    Well yeah, but it’s advertising gold for the general. Either you get Romney to continue to present this idea or you get him running from his own proposal.

  34. 34
    dreggas says:

    Ryan S. Says:

    OT but a disturbing fact.
    KKK resurgance

    The republican base becoming re-surgent.

  35. 35
    dreggas says:

    This is OT but looks like things are heating up in the Oversight of Iraq funding and contracts:

    More Here

  36. 36
    BadTux says:

    If I were Edwards, I’d put out a press statement saying “The same people who were wrong on Iraq, wrong on the deficit, wrong on the economy, wrong on everything, are now saying that one of my campaign workers is wrong for my campaign. Given the Republican track record of being wrong on everything, I have now decided to give her a raise.”

    Then fire her a few months down the line, after this whole kerfuffle is over.

    C’mon, a pro could turn this worm to his advantage by focusing on the facts that a) it’s Republicans doing this, and b) the Republicans have been wrong on almost everything over the past six years. Edwards’s whole problem, alas, is that he isn’t a pro. He’s an over-earnest trial lawyer who got big settlements for his clients by going “gosh golly you’re mean!” to pit-bull defense lawyers in front of sympathetic juries who bought his “oh shucks” jive. He’s out of his league dealing with the Rovians, who have spent literally *decades* building a slime machine.

  37. 37
    carpeicthus says:

    Myrtle, you child, I was just pointing out your own words, which are apparently meaningless to you.

  38. 38
    Dave says:

    Where’s the outrage!?

    Really quiet on the other side about obstructionism and “upperdown!!” votes eh?

  39. 39
    Filthy McNasty says:

    Dear political campaigns – don’t hire me. Honestly, sometimes I skim through the archives and cringe a little.

    ….says Tim, as John Cole works furiously behind the scenes deleting old posts and comments, like his fluff boy Amato is doing as we speak.

    Don’t worry, bud. No campaign even knows about you, let alone wants to hire you.

  40. 40
    Tim F. says:

    Don’t worry, bud. No campaign even knows about you, let alone wants to hire you.

    …and yet you’re here. We clearly get the best of both worlds.

  41. 41

    Tell ya what, McNasty. Go search for “demimondian” through Google. I think you’ll be amused at the number of places in the conservative Catholic blogosphere where some nutcase has spent a lot of precious electrons refuting a posting I once made to, you guessed it, Balloon Juice.

  42. 42
    Richard 23 says:

    ….says Tim, as John Cole works furiously behind the scenes deleting old posts and comments, like his fluff boy Amato is doing as we speak.

    I hope you’re saving screenshots. Tell us about these posts that are being deleted. I’ll keep refreshing the page so I don’t miss your deleted comment.

    It’s going to be hard for John to cover his tracks since the posts are numerically tagged in ascending order. Muhahaha.

    EVERY number for which there is no post, must be one of those controversial missing posts you’re talking about. Man, are you Filthy, McNasty.

  43. 43
    Filthy McNasty says:

    Tell ya what, McNasty. Go search for “demimondian” through Google.

    It escapes me what that has to do with the likelihood of Cole or his colleague being hired by a campaign.

    Can always count on your type to miss a point, yet never miss an opportunity to praise yourself.

  44. 44
    tBone says:

    Tell ya what, McNasty. Go search for “demimondian” through Google

    It’s also fun to do a search for “bad spoof” and “Filthy McNasty.”

  45. 45

    It’s also fun to do a search for “bad spoof” and “Filthy McNasty.”

    Man, that search stuff r0xxors! Learn something…interesting…every day.

  46. 46
    TenguPhule says:

    Don’t worry, bud. No campaign even knows about you, let alone wants to hire you.

    Shorter Filthy McNasty: Less Lube! More Tube!

  47. 47
    The Other Steve says:

    ….says Tim, as John Cole works furiously behind the scenes deleting old posts and comments, like his fluff boy Amato is doing as we speak.

    Filthy McNasty = Banned Brian

  48. 48

    I think Myrtle is close to this. The blogosphere is big enough for everyone’s opinion, but if you are in a position of putting out a message for a candidate and the message you have been putting out right up until you took the job was insulting sizeable sections of your new boss’s constituency then you’re probably not the person for the job.

    Marcotte has posted with lots of vitriol, with a take-no-prisoners attitude. She has been incredibly ignorant about the Duke case (a project of mine for the last year) and has made herself unqualified for the Edwards job. Over at the TalkLeft discussion boards on that case there is a lot of leftist complaining that Marcotte has been swiftboated, but to me it looks more like a foot-shooting.

  49. 49
    Ellison, Ellensburg, Ellers, and Lambchop says:

    Tony Dungy might be an asshole.

    Because his views on gay rights may be different than “San Francisco’s Alternative Online Daily” (or they may not — the “journalist” prefers to use innuendo rather than, you know, quotes or anything)? I would wager that the “asshole” category would encompass about 80% of America, if that’s the criterion.

    From teh ghey website:

    Dungy is deservedly praised for his being a path breaking African-American NFL coach, but this does not excuse him from denying civil rights to other oppressed minority groups.

    So get this — Tony Dungy is now “denying civil rights” to “oppressed” gays. Wow, winning the Super Bowl grants you the power to enact legislation by fiat? It’s amazing we survived the Jimmy Johnson years!

    Or just maybe this another whining grievance group blowing anything out of proportion so they can complain about how The Man oppresses them. Just maybe.

    Now hush up about Tony D. or I’ll have to break you off again!

  50. 50
    tBone says:

    Filthy McNasty = Banned Brian

    Ellison, Ellensburg, Ellers, and Lambchop = MIA Mac Buckets

  51. 51

    Of course EEEL == MIA Mac Buckets. Although the possibility that he’s also Glenn Patterico can’t be ruled out.

    Or, of course, he could be Greenwald himself. I don’t know if Glenn has quite such a puckish sense ofhumor, though.

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] This whole episode brings up some rather interesting questions about blogs and their compatibility with political campaigns. Tim F. argues: In fact I doubt that many of us would withstand scrutiny of an oppo research firm with millions to spend and quick access to the noise machine. To me it just seems inherently perilous to seek out a blogger who is at the same time popular, ideologically reliable (e.g., won’t undercut the campaign when you violate his/her internal principles or pet issue) and whose past won’t embarrass you in some way. Maybe I will incur the wrath of the blogging triumphalists for this, but it might be a better idea overall if high-profile campaigns hired experienced, low-profile IT professionals to handle their online operations. One prominent personality seems like enough for most political campaigns to manage. […]

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