The Blogging Of The President

In a Democratic candidate’s forum at the YearlyKos conference, the participants were asked if they would appoint a White House blogger if elected. All of them said yes.

Imagine for a moment that you are running for the Democratic nomination to run for President of the United States. You are appearing on a panel at a conference of progressive bloggers before an audience of 1,500 of some of the most motivated online activists in your party and you are asked if you would appoint a White House blogger if elected. How many answers are there?

To the field of candidates appearing at this conference, there is only one answer, and that is to pander in the most shallow and uncritical manner possible. I can appreciate the pressure that they may have felt in this venue. They may have justifiably feared a hostile charge at the stage had any of them been adventurous enough to actually give the question some thoughtful consideration. But thoughtful consideration is not a trait most politicians spend much time cultivating.

Blogging has certainly made great strides in the realm of new media. It is regarded with a measure of seriousness that was unthinkable a few short years ago. Presidential candidates are now grateful for an audience of bloggers, and TV pundits are shaking in their expensive and anachronistic studios. But I, for one, am not so sure the notion of a White House blogger is particularly desirable. That may appear to be sacrilege coming from a blogger, but if you break down the meaning and purpose of a blog, this position may make more sense.

Merriam-Webster defines a blog as a…

Web site that contains an online personal journal with reflections, comments, and often hyperlinks provided by the writer.

Hiding in that rather dry definition is the framework for all of the vitality that radiates from the best of blogs.

Key amongst the components of good blogging is personality. The authors who attract crowds and inspire readers are those who give something more of themselves than the typical columnist. They dig deeply and feel fiercely, and aren’t afraid to express themselves with the raw honesty of a confessional.

The commentary featured on blogs is enhanced by the comments of readers that are compelled to praise, argue, and otherwise expand upon the blogger’s original thoughts. It is the presence of a community that ties together the disparate souls that linger in the Intersphere, and transforms a private diary into a social gathering.

The problem with a White House blog is that it would be none of these things I just described. It would not offer the personal reflections of a nation’s leader, or even those of a staffer appointed to feel things for the president. The honesty and spontaneity that infuses superior blogs with essence would be diluted beyond recognition by the expediency and message control of the modern presidential PR machine. And the chance that unrestricted free speech would flourish in freewheeling comments (if comments are even allowed) is roughly zero to none.

More likely, the White House Blog would just be another province of the propaganda branch of administration bureaucracy. It would be employed to further the political agenda of partisans, rather to than to inform and/or inspire citizens. Just imagine the sort of blogging that would emanate from the current White House. Would you rush each morning to your computer to devour the details of the latest musings of Hugh Hewitt or Michelle Malkin? Or perhaps they would find an obscure marcom specialist with YAF credentials who would happily report to Tony Snow.

For these reasons, I don’t think it would be contributory to democracy to establish yet another platform for the disbursement of misinformation. Leave the lying and scheming and obfuscation to the president’s press secretary and his/her designees, where it currently resides.

Leave blogging to bloggers.