10.30.2008

The Political Hazards of Blogging

A Wisconsin Assembly candidate finds out firsthand.

As one Dan Bice noted, a week ago

Note to all political bloggers: Be careful what you write, because one day you might decide to run for public office.

After that ominous opening, though, the Spivakless Bice proceeds to paint a picture of contradiction - one that isn't necessarily accurate.  

He tries to position Jo Egelhoff's broad statements as a candidate as in direct opposition to her earlier specific issue stances.  That's nice - and it has the potential to show contradiction - but Bice assumes a great deal to make his case.  Or demonstrates a strong political bias (not unlike liberal blogs that seized upon the 'discovery').  An individual can have the stances Egelhoff espoused as a blogger, believing full well that there are other legitimate paths to the goals she states as a candidate.

Only on concealed carry does the Bice argument stick to any degree.  And Bice is right that "nothing on the web ever truly disappears."

But that brings up another point - one that I've had to come to terms with in continuing to write this blog in a non-anonymous capacity.  People have the capacity to change through time, and blogging over the long run permits others to see shades of that.  In the case of those who begin blogging in college, people grow up.  People absorb evidence from their experience and arguments from those they respect.  The very act of blogging, as Egelhoff alluded to in her defense of the posts, can bring about discussions and criticism that hone a blogger's views.  

I'm not defending Egelhoff on the concealed carry issue with that statement.  I'm not trying to shrug off responsibility for what I post here.  I am saying blogging is something unique - and something that varies wildly in quality, tone, purpose, and relevance from blogger to blogger.  I am saying that someone who's rigidly and guardedly consistent might be feeding you little more than press releases.

One should likely take a page from the classic politician handbook, though, and mention one's blog up front when jumping into politics to defuse potential problems (see Obama's admission of drug use early in his career as a way to not only shield himself against attacks based on it, but even use it as a political sword).

In the end, a blogger must dismiss the hobgoblins to some extent and blog knowing the product is always fair game.  And hope for the best.  To date, I've found the positives of blogging outweigh the risks.