Blogs, Campaigns, and Hillary

Hold on… gimme a second… blood’s still up over Paris’ getting released from prison.

Okay, I think I’m good.

Blogs. There’s no doubt that blogs are now a part of the political sphere. CNN can’t have any kind of event without looking at what the blogs are doing (just wanted to point out that Comments was featured by CNN at the last Democratic Debate, thank you very much), and it has become perfectly normal for mainstream media political correspondants to bring up the trends in the blogosphere in the context of virtually any story.

But the place blogging holds in the political world is a trickier animal altogether to pin down. As an alternative to the mainstream media? As a means of news dissemination among party and idealogical faithfuls? An open forem for opinions? A grass roots answer to talk radio?

I don’t know. What I do know, however, is that in general blogs have little to no place in actual campaigns. At a fundamentally philosophical point, the two different entities are at odds; blogs are raw and chaotic, unadulterated in their content, and unapologetic in their opinions, on the other hand, campaigns, at least successful ones, are the picture of discipline and polish, precision in execution and rigid in message control.

The simply just don’t fit well together, and yet despite this we’ve seen that most campaigns have “New Media” guys, and try and inject themselves into the blogosphere, resulting already in two flaps early in this presidential primary season.

The first came from Edwards’ camp, where two of his bloggers said some unfavorable things about Christians, and the second came from Obama’s camp, where his New Media guy bullied a myspace supporter, potentially losing 160,000 supporters for the senator.

As a result, actively attempting to inject yourself into the blogosphere means one of two things. Either you are submitting yourself to the hostility and chaos of the blogosphere which can reflect negatively back on the campaign, or you could impose campaign order on a medium that largely operates outside of order, which results in, if I may say so, some of the most boring and useless blogs on the planet.

Seriously, reading the blog of some teenager who likes to write about the sandwich they had for lunch that day is more exciting and informing than some of the campaign blogs out there. I’m sorry.

In the end, ninety percent of the time blogs just don’t work and it’s not worth it to waste the time and money on something that is essentially a risk to the campaign’s discipline and message. With all that being said, there is someone I think can benefit from a blog.

Now this is just me doing some pondering, but if you look at Hillary Clinton, perhaps the biggest threat to her campaign is, Hillary Clinton. We’ve known this for a long time, and has led a large part of the Democratic party to believe that she is and forever will be unelectable. Much of this stems from the fact that people feel she is… cold.

Which shows perhaps the only place a blog should ever hold officially in a campaign. I think Hillary potentially could benefit greatly from a blog, but only if she wrote in it exclusively. It could humanize her, and give people a chance to get to know the “real” Hillary. It shouldn’t be political in nature, but more like a travel log.

If I were Hillary’s New Media guy, that’s what I would do. I would just go up to her one day and say, “Here you go.”

“What’s this?”

“It’s your blog.”

“What do you write in it?”

“Nothing, you do.”

As a campaign tool to disseminate campaign messages, blogs are horrible, and candidates should really look not towards endorsing blogs or trying to have campaign blogs of their own so much as just leaving the blogosphere be. Enjoy the success that they bring you, and don’t get involved so that you don’t become liable for some of the crazy things we bloggers sometimes say.

But as a way to let potential voters get to know you, I think it’s a good idea. It would definitely help Hillary scrub up her image a little.

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