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June 11, 2006


My biggest regret from the Reid speech is that he gave it too late to make the Sunday press. Not sure how much media stuck around for the speech. But it was definitely a highlight of the convention.

"Power and wealth began to take over America again. But you know what has saved us. It hasn't been money. It has been you." Hmm. Sounds like pandering to me. Blogs may have changed a lot, but wealth still controls this country and the conservatives still control all three branches of national government. For him not to pander, actually, would be for him to say something you didn't want to hear, and then you bloggers would just tear him a new one for having had the gall to say it.


Yes, he gave us more credit than we deserve. But as I said, he reflected a real understanding--and passion--about the same things that motivate us. I haven't heard such a pointed speech from anyone else in DC. He understands the urgency. That's what I loved.

Here's a pander ! Emptywheel, you give me hope. I was mesmeized with every word you spoke on the Plamegate panel. Was thrilled it was on c-span, so glad to have seen it. Your input was just amazing. I am also a BIG Murray Wass junkie, was thrilled to see he more than any other jounalist got the emptywheel seal of approval. Simply, thank you and am so glad you are on our side.

hey ew-
the whole thing was very exciting, even/especially via CSPAN. As I've argued elsewhere, the physical and cultural shape of the public sphere - determined by the logics of capitalism, etc. - creates protective spaces for real innovation. A critical mass, including Harry, is beginning to see a world where the local is determined by communicative networks... Let's see how quickly Boxer figures out she screwed up in spite of the glow of the moment! You were very good on your panel!

And was there any serious consideration of how to prevent the bar of exclusion from rising once again, this time in the bloggodome?

OT, but re: EW's point during the Plame panel about the ability of bloggers to fully flesh out character...has anybody done that well with a certain Mr. Ledeen?



Not as much character as his favorite trope, but I did this, which I'm quite fond of.


I just saw the Plame panel broadcast on C-SPAN yesterday and it was good. It was great to see you as well and put a face to the person :-)

I'm sure you Plameologists had a ton of fun!

PC, if Harry had said something the blogs didn't want to hear, what in your opinion would it have been?
Also, how did Bush and Cheney's JAR numbers sink so low? I am interested in your analysis.

Terrific post, as per usual. Jane blogged last night about Boxer's "fumble" wrt Lamont vs Liebermann. So, imo your post about Harry is badly needed.
I thought your insight was right on target and goes with the history of those "feulletons" or whatever those communities were that I am so horribly misspelling. Based on what I know right now, the primary DIRECT impact of the blogs is on the traditional/corporate media. Our direct impact on politicians is significantly less imo and hard to separate out from the media impact.

The transcript was posted here:



Tres bien, merci.

Thanks Rob. The comments were delivered somewhat differently. For example, he seems to have replaced the Kings and Churches with money and power at the last minute.

John Caspar--

I think it is possible to see the potential influence of Blogs on Politicians, for while this sort of thing is still a child, it is a kind of Journalism. It isn't TV or Daily Papers, it is more like Journals of Opinion and specialized publications, but because it is linked to means to fund raise and also to call out activist and protest, it is quite unlike most contemporary Journalism. Politicians are likely to fear it on one hand, and want to use it on another -- and the key is going to be whether the proper kind of relationship can be built that retains the essential independence of the form, and over time deepens the quality.

Most politicians I know (and I only know the progressive type) fear the blogs because they fear the loss of message control. Party pols are a lot more fearful than elected pols. I don't know how many times I've heard the example of the 2004 Move-On ad where Bush Morphed into Hitler as an example of loss of message discipline. I am sympathic, when you invest all in a candidacy, you don't want a ringer coming in and crashing your campaign or your party ticket. Because I also want to retain the freshness and originality of the Blogs -- I think there is a very good argument for a very public arms length relationship between the two. But long before Blogs came along the same thing happened -- in the last days of the Wellstone Campaign in 1990 our opponent, Rudy Boschwitz hired some known Gang Leaders to volunteer to deliver out literature door to door -- making it necessary for Paul to have a press conference to clear up the claim that he had some sort of relationship with street gangsters. I think the lines between party and blogs need to be quite distinct, even though blogger influence is very much involved with ability to raise funds for various candidates. It is a tough distinction, especially since politics is never free of tricks, dirty or otherwise.

My own hope for the Blogs is that somehow resources are obtained so as to allow at least some blogs to finance investigative work. Josh Marshall has taken that first step with the Muck -- but where I would really like to see it go is independent foreign reporting -- perhaps a hundred versions of Juan Cole. With the wholesale withdrawal of MSM Journalism from this field, the gate is wide open for a new version. My candidate bloggers would be say returned Peace Corps volunteers who had mastered language and culture and might not need fancy hotels and all to do investigative projects. But they might not even need to travel that much -- just people who could read the papers and translate what it might be good to know would be a start.

wow emptywheel, you're a Gutenberg fan too ???

most people fail to realize that those little pieces of moveable type moved from the printing press to the keyboard. the process that Gutenberg used to print bibles and other objectionable tracts have evolved to the point where anybody can do what Gutenberg did

now I can ask one small historical question, maybe ???

do you see any correlation between Gutenberg's "invention" and the success of Martin Luther ???

I kinda like to think that Gutenberg made the whole idea of "western civilization" possible, and Martin Luther committed the first revolutionary act, aided by Gutenberg's process of mass communication

Basically, my reasoning goes something like this:

Martin Luther succeeded where others failed because Martin Luther was aided by Gutenberg's process. Other people who challenged the Church failed, because they didn't have access to a system that allowed wide dispersal of their ideas. Martin Luther's "15 points" were allowed wide spread distribution, due to Gutenberg's recent "invention"

anybody agree ???

anybody disagree ???


One of the undergraduate courses that inspired me to do grad school was a Book History course that covered all these issues, and if I still have an intellectual home in academics, that's where it is. And yes, many (if not most) media historians, provided they consider books as a medium, agree entirely with you. Moveable type was critical to democratizing the control over intellectual power.

If you haven't already read it, you should read Elizabeth Eisenstein's The Print Revolution in Modern Europe. Maybe I'll even call Harry's office and see if he has read it.

Sara, thanks for the well informed analysis. I would just add that the financial markets still need up to date and accurate political information, pretty much world-wide.

John Casper, getting off-topic, but I happened to have that thought this morning reading about the trend for corporate shareholders to demand a more real vote in comapny elections. I'm surprised a large scoop-based blog for investors interested in actively influencing corporate policies hasn't sprung up. Or maybe it has & I don't know about it.

I'm just glad someone remembers what the Nuclear Option is. Blogwise, it's ancient history.

it's our foreign policy re: Iran, right?

Media history, interesting. I once knew someone from the early days of TV, he never thought cable TV would succeed - later admitted the error but then didn't have any interest in the internet (I think he was just being stubborn at that point).

The Plame panel was quite an event, the Rolling Stones of the conference for me. Maybe this blog stuff will change the world.

With your comments here and endorsement of Reid I'll have to take him more seriously than I have done thus far.

Fascinating. For any revolution, you need two things - publication media and a network. You know, that is how India got its independence. Gandhi, Nehru and other Indian intellectuals/freedom fighters were all excellent writers in English and they wrote vociferously - in and out of prison.
And the network? Railways. Indian railways were built by early 20th century and the activists traveled wide and far to organize and have conventions and meetings. British gave India two tools - English langauge and railways - to beat them with them. Ultimate irony!

What about civil rights movement in the 60's?
The media and content are MLK's speeches and writings.
The network is black churches in the south, as well as MSM from the north.

emptypockets, thanks, I don't know of one either.

not pandering not over the top..... if the internet gets

taken apart - if the Senate does not block the Cope act HR 5252

(Act 1996 Telecommunications - ) the last straw to democracy.... the elections are rigged/frauded/ and nothing is being done....the airwaves are the electronic berlin wall.

he was not pandering.....

If you think any of this matters, you haven't been paying attention.

EW, thanks for your courageous and articulate presentation at the Plame panel. I particularly appreciated that you brought up the Iran-Contra fiasco, because I think we often get focused on the present and forget that these are generations-long conflicts, often with the same cast of characters.
I have a journalist husband, and started out in that field myself -- and I have been long convinced that able bloggers like yourself can take the time to put the facts together and analyze them -- something today's journalists don't often have the time or resources to do. And a blog like this one, with a long institutional memory and lots of hyperlinks, has a substance that a news story or series of news stories can't have by itself. Occasionally a newspaper will put together an archive to follow a story -- but only if the story bleeds enough to appeal to editors who are chasing diminishing readership and shrinking news holes.
Anyway, I wanted to say thank you for doing what you do. It enriches all of us.

Good post. I hadn't been inspired by Reid before and it was good to hear he has a sense of history and a sense of the cultural context of politics. Enjoyed the Plame panel as well. I think what makes some blogs a new journalistic medium is links: to breaking stories and rumors, to reference material for comments, and to background materials and the history of the issue. After all, the town crier did not have to be an expert in analyzing the news he passed around; he just needed to report it accurately. News is really gossip about broader topics with a broader audience: nobody gets the full picture of an event as it is happening, even eyewitnesses. The full story evolves, and intelligently curious people keep a flexible view until enough factual information is dug up to form a good picture. IMO blogs kept me better informed in 2004 and 2006 than traditional MSM--e.g., I couldn't find out the when and where of the Dem primary debates in WaPo--only online. IMO it's shortsighted to disparage the power of blogs.

Reid is not an inspiring speaker per se -- he read much of his speech, has a soft voice and seems almost shy. On the level of political speechmaking, Warner did a much better job in the conventional sense.

But Reid imho is the far more interesting speaker. He actually digs deeper into issues, and has the most endearing quality I can think of -- he does not seem afraid to offend.

As for the pandering comment -- Warner, maybe. Reid? No. Obvious to those who were there.

What's more surprising is the fact that Reid actually seems to believe that the blogs helped him get the message out about Social Security. In his recent interview with Salon ($ or daypass), he put it this way:


Are the blogs just another constituency for you, sort of an online AFL-CIO or something?

I wish that were the case, but it's simply not the truth.

I've come to learn one thing: They're not controllable. If you do something they like, they pat you on the back. If you do something they don't like, they kick you in the rear end.

Has that changed how you work or you think?

I think it's allowed me to be myself, to try to take on the giants, you know, because I feel like I have a little bit of help. When I started this thing with the privatization of Social Security, I felt like David going against Goliath. Bush and the media out there, it was a 9-foot giant, and here I was a teenage kid. But after we fired that rock and hit 'em in the middle of the forehead and beat them, they're no longer 9 feet high. They're about my size. We have a better shot at 'em. Still not as good as it would have been had we not had everything consolidated, and the Fairness Doctrine [had not gone] out the window, and all the things that were so "fair." We don't have that, but we've made progress.

And how did the blogs help in the Social Security fight?

They wouldn't let Bush off the ground. They were able to help us get crowds at places. They were able to drive the regular media crazy by having people write stories that they didn't want to write. They helped us slay the giant.


Frankly he gives more credit to the blogs than I do. But his comment about how the MSM wouldn't get this info out there, and yet still people showed up for events (go MoveOn!) I think reflects what seems to have been a defining moment to him about the power of the blogosphere.

I read the Kings and Church excerpt, and, on reflection, think money and power slightly more modern. Reid likely has some interesting speechwriters as well. Perhaps that was a last minute insertion. He also mentions in that talk a prediction that Pat Roberts is prepared to acquiesce to publish three increments of the Phase II report, doubtless the segments which most support Olsen Jeffress Libby's strategies; perhaps Roberts is privy to the defense's plans for calling certain hostile witnesses, or so goes my theory: on WMD Roberts is going to claim state secrets thru a tangential unitarism; on Chalabi, he, as well as the minority on the committee, is constrained by diplomacy considerations in a young government still coalescing; and on the predictions accuracy, he can report several missionsAccomplished. The senate typically takes four years to shift from one party to the other.
The McLuhanesque article to which you linked in Update2 is more to the point, with less polemics.
Although appreciative of Mkos, often I find his views contrived though he is willing to look, the key to developing, as this interview clip shows in the 'Swamp' segment of the CTimes; it shows the balance of realizing what resonates most is insight and that is what the discussions have fostered. Harry Reid was right that the blogs registered the gaps in the social security rewrite; maybe he is right that was the most impact the blogs have had in congressional policy recently.

Reid sounds to me as if he is in some ways channeling Kevin Phillips--he comes from the same sort of lower middle class background and really understands the "people against the powerful" theme because it is the story of his life.

I have been trying for some time to understand why he is so much more popular than Nancy Pelosi (or the is so much less so) and maybe she is too far removed from this world--she moves in pretty rarified circles when she is in SF and no doubt elsewhere, while Reid has never forgotten where he comes from and how he got where he is. Perhaps it is this that makes him (seem) more authentic. Good for him, since getting back to supporting the underdog is precisely what I think is the key to the Dems' future success.

His comment that the blogs supported him of Social Security is right--Josh Marshall led this one more than anyone else, and did get crowds to specific events using his blog.

Perhaps Reid's conservatism will let him touch the Reagan Denmocrats, who the Dems really need to bring back to the fold, while keeping the energy of the progressives and progressive blogs in the mix as well.

Mimikatz, there are a couple of reasons that occur to me about why Harry Reid is so much more popular than Nancy Pelosi.

One (that I think some of the MSM got right) is that we as a group are not as much looking for ideologues as we are for Democrats who will stand up and fight. Harry does and, frankly, Nancy doesn't -- at least, not very much.

But the other reason is that Harry seems to really understand that, while the voters of Nevada may be those who elect him, as the Democratic leader in the Senate he works for all of us. Nancy Pelosi is NOT interested in hearing from people by email, or via her website, or by phone, who are not in her district. So while I feel proud to have Harry Reid as MY leader in the Senate, I do not feel that Nancy Pelosi is my leader in the House.

I'm sorry she had to cancel her speech at YK. At least some of us who aren't in her district might have been able to reach her to tell her that if she wants our support as our House leader, she needs to provide a way for people who aren't just her district constituents to communicate with her.

Pelosi enforces much more caucus unity than Reid. Look at the budget votes. That's pretty good, considering she has 4 1/2 times as many caucus members to deal with (45 v. 205). She doesn't have the parliamentary clout because of the lack of a filibuster. But she does issue statements that are pretty sharp. Check The Stakeholder regularly. So I don;t think its that she doesn't "fight." She seems to have given people that impression by saying that impeachment is off the table for now. But she certainly held the line on the budget and some other key votes, while Reid doesn;t ever seem to have votes where no one is allowed to stray.

I still think it is some style factor but I question whether it is really rooted in reality.

The New Yorker did a very interesting Profile on Reid (in 2005?).

One of his personal heros was a high school teacher, and he came off as a very grounded, humble man who takes his Mormon faith seriously. Not reckless, but not afraid to fight, either.

As for Pelosi; I don't walk in her shoes, and I cut her some slack. I heartily thank her for encouraging Rep John Murtha to state his convictions. He's the only Dem my right wing acquaintance and family members seem to respect. Gingrich, Hastert, or a less savvy politician, would have tried to steal into photo ops with Murtha. I think Pelosi's role in **not** grandstanding, and **not** stealing Murtha's thunder, has been underestimated. I think this nation is far better off for Murtha's comments, and I commend Pelosi for supporting him.

As for Reid -- managing a bunch of Senate Prima Donnas can't be any cakewalk. The fact that he's at least called b.s. on the Bu$hCo group has certainly earned my gratitude. Shutting down the Congress over the Intel Comm gutlessness was legislative brilliance, IMHO.

EW, I appreciate your insights.

Also interesting to note that Reid seems so thoughtful about media. Good for him!

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