January 26, 2006 4:00 AM PST

Congress catching on to the value of blogs

When someone calling himself "John Kerry" posted a diary on the popular liberal community blog DailyKos last week, its members reacted with both suspicion and amazement.

Some immediately welcomed Kerry to the community, expressing pleasant surprise that the Massachusetts senator would take part in "our little progressive group blog."

Others, however, were more skeptical. They found it hard to imagine that Kerry himself had posted on DailyKos, since it could have been one of the senator's staffers or even a random person using the senator's name.

But before long, the site's owner, Markos Moulitsas, posted a comment confirming that the diary was legitimate. All told, Kerry's post received 1,219 comments, many friendly and many from members of the community still angry at the 2004 Democratic presidential nominee for losing the election to George W. Bush.

Congressional bloggers

Eleven members of Congress have jumped into the blogosphere so far. Some have gone the whole nine yards and allow readers to publish responses to their musings. Other aren't there yet.

Web site Allows posts?
Mike Conaway's Blog
Rep. Mike Conaway
R- Tex.
Rep. John Conyers
John Kerry's Diary
Sen. John Kerry
Congressman Kirk's Blog
Rep. Mark Kirk
Speaker's Journal
Rep. Dennis Hastert
John Linder's Blog
Rep. John Linder
Sen. Barack Obama
Frank Pallone's Blog

Rep. Frank Pallone
Give 'Em Hell Harry
Sen. Harry Reid
Rep. Louise Slaughter
Tom's Blog
Rep. Tom Tancredo

Just a year ago, a DailyKos posting from someone like John Kerry would have been all but unheard of, and blogging of any kind by members of Congress was almost nonexistent. But now that dynamic is starting to change, and slowly, members of the House of Representatives and the Senate are beginning to appreciate the value of blogs.

"When I reach out to the blog community, it gives me an opportunity to begin a dialogue with an extremely politically sophisticated and active community that I otherwise might not be able to reach," Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., wrote in an e-mail to CNET News.com. "Another benefit of blogging is that, as opposed to delivering a speech, you get immediate and unlimited feedback, both positive and negative."

Obama and Kerry are two of about 11 members of Congress who are blogging today, either on their own blogs or as guests on others' sites. Republicans like Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert of Illinois, Rep. Mark Kirk of Illinois and Rep. Mike Conaway of Texas have joined the fray, along with Democrats like Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada, Rep. John Conyers of Michigan and Rep. Louise Slaughter of New York.

That's still a small percentage of Congress, but some observers of politics and blogs think a greater number of Washington's elected officials will soon come around.

"I think there's a new level of comfort among many politicians that a blog is a way that you can put your positions out and carry on an

CONTINUED: A mistrust of the Internet…
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Are we in trouble now !!!!!!!!!!!!
The champion purveyors of verbal BS now find a waiting and
gullible pipeline for their written drivel. I just hope these political
idiots stay confined within a few zones, easily ignored.
Posted by Earl Benser (4310 comments )
Reply Link Flag
This is interesting...
At least now the voice of small guys with smaller issues will be heard?! Like for instance.... <a class="jive-link-external" href="http://unite.rediffblogs.com/" target="_newWindow">http://unite.rediffblogs.com/</a>
Posted by b2bhandshake (83 comments )
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Politeness Counts In Politics
Political blogs by candidates and office holders are no worse that press meetings where the press gets to grill the speaker with the exception that these are limited time span events. The problem of comments is exhaustion. A determined and persistent group can create the illusion that a blogger is hiding information, befuddled or unwilling to answer and that perception is then fed back into the amplifier that is the web to destroy credibility.

Blogging is a public appearance in that sense and comes with advantages and risks. The sharper the blogger, the better they can handle that but it takes time and robbing time is a well known political tactic.

Note that some very famous bloggers such as Tim Bray who often express political points of view don't allow comments on their blogs. I don't as well. The time it takes to answer trolls exhausts me and takes all the pleasure out of what was told to me to be a form of personal expression. If you don't like the act, find another player. If you do, talk to me offstage. If you yell advice from the audience, I will come to your job the next day and yell advice into your cube. You will have me removed from the building. I will have you thrown out of the nightclub. Politeness counts in politics.
Posted by Len Bullard (454 comments )
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Argentinean parlamentblogs
In Argentina, we started Diario de GestiĆ³n (<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.diariodegestion.com.ar/" target="_newWindow">http://www.diariodegestion.com.ar/</a>), where we offer to each argentinean congressmen a free blog.
At the moment, we have 3 authors.
Posted by irenef (1 comment )
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Still skeptical
I'm not skeptical that these people are blogging, but I'm skeptical that it will change anything.

The day I see several calling it like it really is, even at the possible expense of their own political career, then I'll know there is change.

I'd like to see someone saying that they voted for something they didn't believe in because it was the only way to get people to vote for their bill and that it was for the greater good.

Or someone to post about the political contributions (bribes) they passed up and who the attempted bribers were.

Remember how the internet used to be fun and there was always something new? Now it's all glossy orchestrated corporate-speak on polished websites. I'm afraid that all too quickly it will get turned into just another useless PR-tool.
Posted by TV James (680 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I'm on the "skeptical" side of the fence, too... but maybe for more personal reasons. Here in Indiana the "headlines hide the truth" behind political agendas frequently. I doubt that a political candidate's and/or incumbant's blog would change that. For example, on the surface both Gov. Daniels and Lt. Gov. Skillman speak openly about working on the side of conservation and environment, meanwhile their own strategic plan outlined in "Opportunities Unbound" released to the public a few weeks after taking office clearly show their agenda is to double pork production through extremely environmentally damaging factory-farming throughout the state. They create a good cover-story for their actions, but in reality they don't "walk the talk" of the environmentally concerned in ANY way. See <a class="jive-link-external" href="http://wahmdiary.blogspot.com" target="_newWindow">http://wahmdiary.blogspot.com</a> and you quickly see what I mean... The laws quietly being changed and their refusal to let anything stand in the way of their strategic goals for the State won't change if they chose to blog, regardless of the mounting and existing evidence regarding harm their pork plan can cause and/or the mounting public outcry against it.
Posted by time4meDOTcom (1 comment )
Link Flag
Grinding the Squeaky Wheel
The problem with communicating via blogs, is that only the most extreme viewpoints are typically represented. If politicians start believing that blog comments represent the majority of Americans, they are going to find their poll numbers slipping.

Content citizens do not rant openly on blogs...
The majority of citizens do not rant openly on blogs...

Blogs may be a good way for politicians to pick and harvest viewpoints they were previously unaware of... but very few active blog comments represent a majority of Americans.
Posted by David Arbogast (1709 comments )
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That's the truth.....
Posted by Earl Benser (4310 comments )
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