My first reaction to the news that Gary Hart has a blog was "Wow! It's so cool that a possible Presidential candidate can reach voters this way!"
My second reaction was that my first reaction was at least slightly nuts. For all of the boosting that folks like Jeralyn Merritt have given to a Hart 2004 candidacy, I think the fact that he's started blogging is a sure sign he won't run.
Why do I think this? Simple. It's not just that every word that he and his staffers write will be scrutinized by opponents for gotcha material, it's that everything he links to will also be tied to him. I guarantee that at some point someone will read a juicy quote from Hesiod or Atrios or someone like that to Candidate Hart and then ask him in a stern and moralistic tone if he "supports" such a thing, since after all his very own web page links to it. Heck, it wouldn't surprise me if they follow a link from one of those pages and try to tie that to Hart. There are enough dumbass blog-ignorant reporters, anchorpeople, and telepundits out there who wouldn't know or care enough to make any distinctions about that. You can't control anything that goes on outside your own blog's borders, and I think that's too big a liability for a serious candidate for national office. The potential for distraction and Wurlitzer-made scandal is too great. And, not to put too fine a point on it, Gary Hart will have enough of this sort of problem if he runs. He doesn't need to add to it.
That's what my head says, anyway. My heart still loves the idea of a candidate who blogs, though I concede it can't be just any candidate. I think an unheralded dark horse could leverage the power of blogging into an inexpensive and direct way to reach people, perhaps even more effectively than some kinds of old media advertising. Perhaps blogging could help such a candidate tap into a well of volunteers more easily. Perhaps a pioneer could ride the likely publicity that will follow from this novelty into a lot of free old media exposure.
Perhaps we'll find out, if Jim Capozzola really is serious about taking on Arlen Specter in 2004. Rittenhouse, who admits he has zero name recognition, is in a totally different place than the well-known Hart. He can only gain from any attention that could be paid to his writings, and it's not hard to imagine a little-guy-takes-on-the-establishment storyline, like what Victor Morales got in 1996 when he drove around Texas in his pickup truck campaigning against Phil Gramm, though one would hope with a happier ending for Capozzola.
So, while the anarchy of blogging would seem to be a detriment to an already-established candidate, I'd be willing to believe that it could be a boon to an unknown. Will you help us find out, Jim?
Posted by Charles Kuffner on April 02, 2003 to Blog stuff | TrackBack