Friday, November 03, 2006 :::
Every election year, there are stories bemoaning the state of political discourse. But in this WSJ piece, the point isn't so much that campaigns are throwing more mud than in past years, but that partisans are getting in on the action, too.
Stephen Hess has even written a book about the matter, "The Little Book of Campaign Etiquette." The Journal quotes Hess as saying "if you go back long enough in American history, there has always been so much anger and so much ill-will cast around that you have to be careful about thinking that we invented it."
Very true. And just as true is the fact that campaign hecklers are as old as voting. So too are lurid stories about candidates' spouses (current and deceased), children (legitimate or not), parentage and yes, footwear. There is nothing new under the campaign sun.
Or so Hess seems to believe, until we come to the subject of bloggers:
Even so, he, like Mr. Miller, worries about new and possibly perpetual antagonizing in the age of blogging, where "anything that someone sitting in a basement in their underwear wishes to spew gets into the community."
When rhetoric fails, stereotypes will do. And while it is true that there are many spittle-flecked nitwits pounding out their anger on defenseless keyboards, there are also plenty more who try to write pieces that add something to the discussion or, and this may be hard for some to believe, break stories that otherwise would not find their way into the papers or onto the evening news.
Have blogs made political discussions more coarse? Not necessarily. If anything, they are merely reflections of what is being discussed elsewhere -- on topics and in terms that the majority of people might never have been party to before the development of blogs.
Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go find my bathrobe.
::: posted by Norman Leahy at 11/03/2006