Lieberman's boomerang reminds us that voters represent a meager percentage of the total populace — and that bloggers are an even tinier subset of that group. Consequently, what appears to be a coast-to-coast juggernaut on a 17-inch monitor is, in the real world, simply an elaborate PC-to-PC chain letter — enthusiastic, but not necessarily the national mindset.
"There isn't much point in detailing the chest thumping of the various blognut extremists," wrote Time's Joe Klein in his analysis of the Lamont victory. "Their reach is minuscule."
For those who think Klein is underestimating the power of the blog, I have four words: Howard Dean for president.
Among the Kossack "blognuts" and the Hollyweirdos on HuffnPuff, there are enough cockamamie demonstrations of grandiosity, egomania and shrill hysteric mass psychosis to fill Comintern or Walpurgisnacht. Now cable TV has a failed sportscaster shrieking that Rumsfeld is a fascist for calling Islamofascists fascist! But sensible Joe Klein, who writes at the Brewster Women's Library right down the road from our place on Cape Cod, sums it up correctly with "Their reach is minuscule." Kluger compares the Kossacks and Hollyweirdos [and their far-right counterparts] in terms of child-rearing:
Ever since the first smarty-pants posted his first unsolicited opinion on the Internet, Americans have become captivated by blog-o-mania — for good reason. For once, we own and operate our own public medium. Power to the people. Vox populi. Yadda-yadda.
And yet, as the scrambling suits at Lamont headquarters....now know, it's easy to be seduced by one's own hype, especially when that hype is preceded by a "www." Now it's time to play catch-up ball. Lamont's handlers will have to face a candidate who will surely try to have it both ways on the campaign trail.... That's the way the blog bounces.
As an occasional blogger myself, I'm still wary of the phenomenon. On one hand, it can be liberating to log on and spout off, unencumbered by editorial oversight.
On the other hand, as August 2006 clearly demonstrates, bloggers can just as easily get it wrong. That's worth remembering.
The whole thing reminds me of child-rearing. As the parent of any toddler can tell you, the younger the child, the louder the screams for attention — and quite often, the degree of the crisis is in reverse proportion to the decibels of the bellows.
To that end, it's important to remember that the blogosphere is still in its infancy, and like any kid, it needs to be watched very carefully.
I disagree if this means monitoring for violations of PC or censorship for vulgar or obscene language. Bloggers are as various and diverse as the general population. For every dozen bloggers on the left, there are close to a dozen on the right. It's the old "marketplace of ideas" pushed to the ultimate individualism of American democracy. Or Leibnizian monadism, if you wish a continental nuance.
Blogging should be monitored only for the sort of plots and conspiracies uncovered by the Canadian police when they found twenty-three "normal, average Canadian citizens" [who coincidentally all had Muslim names] conspiring to blow up the Toronto HQ of the National Police and some government buildings in Ottawa.
But perhaps I am confusing chat rooms with blogging. Unlike the paranoids on the civil liberty barricades, I believe some monitoring [not supervising] by government authorities is okay. So NSA wiretaps for national security are also okay by me, as long as they have some basis in blocking terrorism or apprehending criminals.
In these cases, the common good supersedes individual rights of privacy.