In the Bunker
Wednesday, August 23, 2006 :::
This item in the Hotline has already been discussed, to varying degrees, by Ben and Waldo. While the Hotline focuses a bit more on the blogging angle, this piece in the TD from Peter Hardin is more concerned with the Wadhams memo blasting the press for its macaca obsession.
Well, when the campaign to date has generated no news, what do you expect?
And the subhead to the TD story, "Democrats publicize memo purportedly by GOP aide that blasts media 'frenzy'" is just too rich.
Anyway, the point of this post is not to defend or interpret the Wadhams' remarks, but to add some perspective to those of Chris LaCivita, who believes the Allen campaign has "...so far failed to appreciate the generative role that bloggers can play -- and the consequences that pertain when the GOP Netroots aren't mobilizied on behalf of candidates."
This statement is both true and false. It's true in that, as was seen in the macaca firestorm, bloggers can and do stoke the fires of the press (regardless of what Michael Shear says), particularly in the absence of more substantive stories developed by the campaigns themselves. And as with any wildfire, it takes a hell of a lot of effort to control the damage.
But the contention that conservative bloggers have not rallied to Allen's cause is not entirely true. Perhaps this speaks more to the narrowness of the campaign's blog reading list, assuming it has one at all. But the support is there and always has been.
That does not mean, however, it is Pavlovian. By their very nature, conservatives are a skeptical bunch. To believe or to assume they will rally to any candidate's banner merely because of the party letter following their name is patently absurd. Trust must be earned, relationships must be built. Some can be bought. But they are hardly credible.
As to the idea that Allen's campaign has not completely grasped the utility of blogs in campaign messaging, that is a fair criticism. As early as May, the Allen campaign was approached by bloggers and others to hold a conference call. We're still waiting for a response (maybe the tubes are clogged).
But messaging goes far beyond the blogs. When I was in Washington in the early 1990s, I started receiving newsletters from then-Governor Allen discussing his Richmond agenda. That was interesting at the time, because I hadn't requested such information. Instead, Allen was being pro-active with his messaging, reaching out to people and organizations to solidify and broaden his base of support.
Conversely, a couple of months ago, I signed up at the Allen website to receive emails from his campaign. So far, nothing has arrived in my inbox. My, how times have changed.
In the six short years since Allen defeated Chuck Robb, the number of messaging platforms has exploded, as has the acceptance (though grudging) of those platforms among the press. To his credit, Jim Webb has embraced them more willingly and completely -- though it can be argued that his lack of resources left him no other choice. The Allen campaign still has the opportunity to embrace the new media, though the clock is ticking.
That does not mean all Republicans have missed the new media express. Both Bill Bolling and Bob McDonnell have impressive strides into the blog world -- from conference calls to online chats to podcasts to appearances at both blogging conferences. The Allen campaign would be well advised to look at what these two men have accomplished and try to mirror their efforts as much as possible in the time remaining.
A good first place to start would be a surprise visit to the Martinsville blog conference.
::: posted by Norman Leahy at 8/23/2006