Archive for August 10th, 2006

Practice Safe Satire Online: Think Before You Click

Guest article! My colleaugue Burt Edwards sees the Lieberman/Lamont blog controversy as a cautionary tale for political commentators and communicators — bloggers and media relations folks alike.

A wise man once commented that, “Any jackass can kick down a barn but it takes a good carpenter to build one.” That man? None other than Sam Rayburn, the legendary Texas politician who not only mentored a young Lyndon B. Johnson but served as speaker of the U.S. of House of Representatives from 1940-61. And while a lot of things have changed since then, Rayburn’s words of wisdom are something that today’s public affairs professionals would do well to heed.

For public affairs professionals today, there’s a premium on being able to master the art of rapid response. And the Internet and email provide a powerful tool to get your message out far and fast. But this only increases the importance that you think before you click.

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Online Politics — A Train That Keeps Arriving

Thinking more about William Saletan’s piece today, it does strike me how often ‘net politics seems to be a force “whose moment has come.” Remember when Bob Dole mentioned his campaign site’s URL in a 1996 presidential debate? Or when a significant number of Americans started getting political news online in 1996 and AGAIN in 1998? Or when a certain commentator (i.e., me) led off an article about online politics using Jesse Ventura’s 1999 website as a hook? Skip ahead five years: Howard Dean uses blogs, organizes meet-ups and raises a shit-ton of money online, only to be eclipsed by John Kerry’s general election web/email fundraising juggernaut.

In all of these cases, outside observers were blown away by the internet’s ability to transcend traditional geographic divisions and organize (or inform or persuade) people regardless of where they live. Maybe, just maybe, this train has long since arrived at the station. Blogs and social media are neat and groovy, but they’re just new cars hitched to a very long and established line of tactics.

Not to take anything away from Saletan’s piece, since I think it’s excellent, but we need to stop talking about online politics as a “new” force. The locomotive pulled up to the platform a long time ago, and only the losers and the also-rans have ignored the whistle.

cpd

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