When asked about the Internet, most political candidates will dutifully tell you that it’s the wave of the future, or the wave of the present, or the greatest thing since chocolate-chip bagels, or … zzzzzz … wake me when baseball’s post-season starts.
LIKE A HOSTAGE STATEMENT: Deval Patrick’s plog, The Source.
In reality, most candidates make the least of the Internet, turning their Web sites into electronic corkboards with Mpegs for pushpins. And that’s especially true of what they laughingly call their blogs, which are actually more like plogs — a cross between blogs and plugs.
And even those are scarce. Take Democratic gubernatorial candidate Deval Patrick’s plog, The Source, which is labeled “the official (v)ideo (a)udio (b)log for the Deval Patrick Campaign.” (W)hat’s (t)hat (m)ean?
Blogs are supposed to have a Dear Diary feel to them, but The Source instead serves up such blandishments as: “Hi, it’s Deval, I finished taping, just this morning, my very first debate, and I have to say it was a good experience. I really enjoyed the opportunity to talk about some of my vision for Massachusetts.”
Geez, reads like a hostage statement.
True, last week amid much hoopla Patrick launched a video Web site, devalpatrick.tv, but when I checked it several days ago, it was a Potemkin Web site — nothing but links to his homepage and volunteer/contribution pages. That’s the Web equivalent of dead air.
Then there’s attorney general and Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Tom Reilly. His blog, From The Trail, has more plugs than Joe Biden’s head. It’s all about Reilly’s “On Your Street, On Your Side” field trips, from Taunton and Tewksbury to Chicopee and Holyoke. The result is a series of cyber-press-releases, with the very-occasional comment attached.
Sample comment from an “On Your Street in Everett” event: “The people of Everett supported Tom in the hometown fashion the [sic] we are known for. A great crowd for a great man.”
Look: a blog is supposed to be personal, especially when it comes to whacking around your ideological or electoral opponents. Only John Bonifaz, running against Secretary of the Commonwealth William Galvin in the Democratic primary, comes close to the real thing. According to campaign manager Juan Martinez, Bonifaz has “the only statewide campaign with a full-time blogger.”
And it shows. Bonifaz’s campaign blog has all the proper accoutrements of the medium, including links to relevant Web material, rampant chest-thumping, and pointed critiques of his opponent. That’s what we’re talking about.
Mitt's road show
Is it just me, or does Massachusetts (nickname: The Cold Shoulder State) tend to undervalue its native politicians when they move up to the national stage? That certainly seemed to be the case in 2004 with John “See You in Six Years” Kerry, whose intermittent attentions to his constituents did not go unnoticed back home. And the same looks to be true of Governor Mitt “Hey, You Got Two Good Years Out of Me” Romney, whose act plays a lot better on the road than on Beacon Hill.
Exhibit A: The following press clips, all from one recent day’s media coverage.