Sunshine Is The Best Disinfectant

I’ve always been somewhat skeptical of the idea that the “blogosphere” can somehow be the great new frontier of media – most blogs a few years ago just added analysis to existing stories in the mainstream media. Granted, some of that analysis was brilliant, but it was still feeding off the MSM. However, today bloggers from Michael Totten to the many military bloggers worldwide, the blogosphere has provided first-hand coverage of events that has provided valuable new perspectives on a whole host of issues that the mainstream media simply won’t touch.

More proof that the blogosphere is a force to be reckoned with is the fact that all three of the GOP leadership candidates are reaching out to bloggers. Majority Leader contests have traditionally involved back-room politics – this is the first contact I can remember in my admittedly limited memory in which there’s been much of any public campaigning.

If bloggers had no impact, Shadegg, Boehner, and Blunt wouldn’t bother answering all these questions, but it is clear that the impact of blogs is being felt in Washington, and smart politicians are realizing that the best way to reach the base of their party (as well as others) is to utilize bloggers to get their messages out. There’s always a risk in that – bloggers don’t necessarily feel any compunction against pointing out where an answer was insufficient or stuffed with spin – but it’s clear policymakers are understanding that this new medium has an effect. Politicians are nothing if not self-interested, and if they’re utilizing a resource it’s because it’s in their advantage to do so. Ten years ago it would have been talk radio – today it’s the blogosphere.

All three candidates do deserve genuine praise for making this contest one of the most discussed and open leadership elections in the history of the Republican Party – or any American political party. The level of openness in this race is quite unprecedented, and has let the base make their views – both favorable and not – known in a way that they’ve never been able to do before.

With the Abramoff scandal putting a cloud over Washington, it’s good to know that the three candidates in this leadership election have decided to let a few rays of sunshine poke through and be willing to make this more than just another back-room Washington deal.

UPDATE: Hugh Hewitt has more observations on the race:

Will the collective effort matter? I am certain it already has, though the race is clearly up in the air. Information changes everything, and a previously closed system has been completely thrown open to public scrutiny.

Old media’s interest has been narrowly focused on Abramoff and his money, and while the bloggers have spent considerable time on the corruption issues, so too have they brought important policy debates into the middle of the leadership contests.

Earmarking, for example, is not going survive this process as it used to be practiced. The openness movement is gaining momentum across the board.

I personally think Shadegg is the best man for the job, but whoever wins this contest, it’s clear that the old ways of doing things are not going to fly with the base anymore. So long as the pressure to reform exists, politicians will do what’s in their best interest. No matter who gets elected, the same bloggers who are calling them on the issues should keep the pressure on to make sure that reform doesn’t just become a temporary buzzword.

Hewitt is also right – the blogger’s questions to these three candidates are far more probing than the questions you hear at the vast majority of press conferences these days…

5 thoughts on “Sunshine Is The Best Disinfectant

  1. “I personally think Shadegg is the best man for the job, but whoever wins this contest, it’s clear that the old ways of doing things are not going to fly with the base anymore.”

    Sure….and Osama bin Laden is gonna turn himself in as well, right? Before the ink dries on whatever lobbying reform measures pass through Congress, clever loopholes will be dreamed up rendering the reforms obsolete. Think Campaign Finance Reform, Chapter 2.

    With that said, John Shadegg presents the GOP has a great opportunity to deflect corruption criticism. Given Blunt and Boehner’s long association with K Street, I doubt they will generate much hype if either of them is chosen as Majority Leader. Dark horse Shadegg, on the other hand, will be viewed as the second coming of Martin Luther if he pulls out a victory, and the media will lavish praise and attention on his “reform agenda” and effectively neutering the Democrats’ message. If the Republicans were wise, Shadegg would be their man. Hopefully, I can continue to count on them being unwise.

  2. Speaking of corruption, lets see the Cisnero’s “Barrett” report’s 120 pages which were blacked out. I think lobbiest are essential and will always be there but agree with Jay that just a bit of transparentcey would change the whole landscape. IF and thats a big if earmarks are on the block, oh man that would be hugh…

  3. Jay, I’m a liberal and disagree with probably 90% of what you say. Much of your reasoning comes from ignorance or just plain denial, in my opinion. However, I’m glad you blog and I’m especially glad you went back to the old blog layout. The “Single Malt Pundit” thing looked nice, but didn’t fit.

    On topic: the blogoshpere is a tremendous way to revitalized American politics. Just the other day, John Kerry posted on DailyKos. Blogs are catching the attention of the big whigs.

    Oh, and the abramoff scandal is putting a cloud over the Republican Party, not Washington (though Washington is full of scum like Abramoff).

  4. Drago, that means 90% of what you think is just plain wrong. How is it just a republican problem since he gave money to both parties ?

  5. Jay,

    I used to think that your site was informative. You would voice reasonable opinions backed with links on topics that are difficult, and upon which reasonable people can disagree. However, I now learn that you are ignorant and/or in denial – Drago says so. Therefore, I will no longer be reading your blog. I guess I’ll have to read blogs that Drago recommends for information, blogs based on intelligence and awareness. I’ll wait for a full list from Drago when he deems it time to post such a thing, but in the meantime, I’ll assume he means fine, reality-based blogs such as DU and Kos. Shame on you for poisoning my mind with drivel, and praise be Drago for showing me the Light.

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