Thursday, August 21, 2008

Letter to American bloggers 

Dear American bloggers,

Magical ponies are not going to gallop out of Denver to rescue the Obama campaign.
Agreed, the Democratic party itself will be energized by the convention. But the media coverage of Denver will invariably disappoint. And the Vice-President choices are so controversial that the pick, when it is finally made, will generate bad press as well as good.
And then it will be September ...and no ponies to be found anywhere.
I know, I know, I can hear it already --"oh, don't worry! Mere bloggers don't understand it but of course Obama's campaign knows what they're doing!"
But while his staff apparently are wonderful people, disciplined, loyal, knowledgeable, etc. etc, its becoming pretty clear they're in over their heads. They've been distracted by style ("Look, Ma, no 527s!") and technique ("we have offices in 50 states!") and they've lost focus on substance.
It's time to stop with the wishful thinking.
I think American Blogtopia should stop waiting for marching orders from Chicago and make its own plan.
1. You need a theme.
"Reality-based community" and "I am aware of internet traditions" spread like wildfire and all of a sudden they were on blogs everywhere. Is there an Obama phrase which you all should be using and blogging about? Markos and Jane and Booman need to come up with a few choices and find something that appeals to people -- maybe a phrase from the convention will be the thing.
2. You need a message -- about Obama, not about McCain.
I am sick to death of reading blog posts about McCain said this and McCain said that and you kids get off my lawn. Funny, yes, but I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop. Why does OBAMA want to be president, and why should VOTERS want him to be president? Billmon and Hunter and Americablog and Dibgy and Bill Sher need to write a dozen posts about what Obama means to them and what he should mean to other Americans. And please, please no more earnest dense graph-filled posts about 10-point economic plans or 15-point health care initiatives. The most "points" Obama is allowed from now on is three (like this post). Two would be even better. That's right, TWO! Because that's the most anybody can remember anyway.
3. And you need stories, stories, stories.
You need Obama anecdotes and history and 'Obama's best quotes' and posts about Michelle and the girls. What kind of professor was he? What did he like best about Kenya? Does he tell jokes? Does he like puns? What was his first job? Was it hard for him to stop smoking? What basketball shot would he most like to be able to do? Across blogtopia, there are people who know him personally, who can write about him or be interviewed about him, who can tell us more about this guy. You need to pass these stories on to the hundreds of thousands of blog readers who are aching to know more -- and to the media who would pick them up and run with them. Blogtopia has been pretty dismissive about people wanting to have a beer with George Bush. but really this was just a way of expressing a political truth -- Americans absolutely demand a personal connection to their leaders. If they don't have it with Obama, they won't vote for him. This is the basis of the "elitist celebrity" meme. So you need stories about this guy, human stories. People won't necessarily see Obama as the guy they want to have a beer with, but he could be the teacher who is coaching their kid's basketball team, or the friend who is laughing at one of their jokes, or the neighbour who's helping them build a back fence.

Yours hopefully,

(Slightly different version also posted at Daily Kos)

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