February 25, 2006

One Year Ago Today -- "West Wing Dot Gov:" The White House Blogger

[EXACTLY ONE YEAR AGO TODAY, I wrote the small item below the extract from Glenn Reynolds' article in today's Wall Street Journal. As the Bush Administration more and more comes to resemble "The Gang That Couldn't Think Straight," they might -- if they can pull a crisp moment together -- consider both suggestions very, very seriously. ]

Glenn Reynolds WSJ.com - Early Warning System

As I write this, it's not clear where the rest of the debate is headed, but there are already some useful lessons for the White House. First, blogs make an excellent early warning system. The White House, unaccountably, seems to have been blindsided by the furor over this deal, though most people's gut reaction was negative. As with the many bloggers like me who changed their minds, gut reactions can be overcome by evidence -- but the White House should have taken advantage of this early warning to have its arguments in order. It didn't.

That's the second lesson: The White House should not only have read blogs, but responded to them with information and arguments, rather than waiting for blog readers to weigh in. As Rich Galen observed on Wednesday, "It is an issue of this administration having a continuing problem with understanding how these things will play in the public's mind and not taking steps to set the stage so these things don't come as a shock and are presented in their worst possible light." Paying more attention to the blogs won't solve that problem. But it will help.

First published -- February 25, 2005
ONCE AGAIN I COMMEND TO YOUR ATTENTION, the item by Donald Sensing @ One Hand Clapping -- "Bush failing to keep the public in the loop." Read the item and the ensuing discussion as to why the administration could do a much better job of presenting their case daily, and why that may or may not be difficult.

In the course of following this discussion and participating to some small extent, the following idea crossed my mind:

Here's a thought. Some might recall the pick-up and wide promulgation of a series of photographs of the President and his days right after the 11th. In addition, there was I seem to recall, a series of television programs which essentially followed the President around through his days.

What if there were an official Presidential blogger who had clearance for fly-on-the-wall access in the White House, within limits, but generally free to talk to and wander about and pickup information and impressions of what is going on. I realize that this sort of thing runs the very high risk of running into government walls at every turn, but really, so what?

Even if it was just blogging the public aspects of the day with an occasional chat with aides and with visitors it would still be fascinating to millions. My guess is that the hit count would soon dwarf Glenn, Kos and the next two hundred blogs combined.

Impossible? It seems like only two years ago many were saying that most newspapers would never allow their reporters to run blogs. Oh, wait, it was only two years ago. Yet, here we are.

It seems to me axiomatic that better ideas require better arguments, and that better arguments require better writers.

Of course, the idea of a White House blogger is not new. It has been suggested numerous times over the years by many bloggers. But as usual, the ideas of the blogsphere run ahead of their time. Perhaps that time is now.

One of Sensing's readers remarks, "The Bush administration has failed, miserably, in its attempts to make the quite legitimate and deserving case for this war. Reagan and Deaver would have done much better." True, but Reagan had Peggy Noonan and if you don't look for them you rely on luck to bring you that sort of talent. Especially in the days before the rise of the Web and the surge of the Blogs.

Today, locating a blogger who could be Bush's "online Samuel Tobias Seaborn-Ziegler" wouldn't be all that hard. A week's scan of about 100 blogs would yield at least 100 candidates who would move heaven and earth for the job of blogging "The West Wing" in real time.

My hat's in the ring. Yours?

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Posted by Vanderleun at February 25, 2006 9:25 AM | TrackBack
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"It is impossible to speak in such a way that you cannot be misunderstood." -- Karl Popper N.B.: Comments are moderated and may not appear immediately. Comments that exceed the obscenity or stupidity limits will be either edited or expunged.

Excellent idea.

I vote for Froggy.

Posted by: red river at September 4, 2005 8:40 PM

Donald Rumsfeld agrees.

Posted by: Juliette at February 26, 2006 2:55 PM

Who could compete with Gerard as the West Wing Blogger? But my hat's in the ring too, as facilities coordinator or something. After years working as a lobbyist I know the tunnels, coffeeshops and unlocked copy rooms of DC. Why once I saw Sen. Chris Dodd in an "underutilized" staff lunchroom with two.......oops never mind.

Posted by: AskMom at February 26, 2006 3:52 PM
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