Friday, May 26, 2006

Webb should hose down his angry bloggers

Writing for The Daily Progress blog Bob Gibson makes some good points about much of the political blogging that has gone on in Virginia to do with the Democratic senatorial primary next month.

“Not only are they pushing Webb with enthusiasm as the challenger more likely to defeat U.S. Sen. George Allen, R-Fairfax County, a number are trashing Miller with some gusto. The D blogosphere is yellow-dog certain that Webb is about to kick Miller’s nether regions and then give Allen the boot. As a political blogger with all the edgy certainty I can muster, I’m thinking ‘horse hockey.’”

Gibson's piece should be read by Jim Webb's blogging activists.


It seems the strategy of Webb’s inner ring of bloggers is to force-feed their strident propaganda down some goodly number of voters’ throats and Pavlov-dog them into voting for Webb on June 13. But their rhetoric has been so hammering, so much the same day after day, my guess is the only people who are getting brainwashed are those same determined bloggers.

Who else would continue to read all that humorless guff day after day?

They all seem to employ the same writing style, with various degrees of success, depending on their writing facility. Facility or not, to me it's an off-putting style that mostly reminds me of Newt Gingrich-trained Republicans in the mid-1990s.

Of course, their angry opponents are doing roughly the same hammering thing for Harris Miller. All of which must be tickling George Allen’s supporters pink.

Please note that I’m for Webb, too. I probably agree with most of his relentless bloggers on many political issues. Like them, I see a great deal of potential in Webb. Yet, while he’s an unusual man, he’s also an unproven candidate and hardly a lock to win anything at this point. It’s silly to pretend otherwise; to do so makes his supporters seem naive and undermines their credibility. In fact, strategy-wise it could even backfire.

Instead of trying to convince their readers of the inevitability of Jim Webb defeating Harris Miller, they should be doing everything they can to sound the alarm that longtime party insiders are trying install a man whose only credential seems to be that he is one of their own.

Miller’s team seems to think it can convince some goodly number of voters that nominations should go as rewards to loyalists -- especially if they're rich -- who’ve worked their way up through the party’s machinery. How viable that insider’s candidacy might be in the real world seems of little concern. Could it be that Miller’s backers would rather lose in November than support a candidate who owes them no favors.

Webb’s well-meaning bloggers should be writing that they are trying to save America's oldest political party from nominating a good man, who, unfortunately, has about as much charisma as a pocketful of sand. Miller seems much more like a player who has the candidate's ear than a candidate himself. Hey, most people are not cut out to be candidates in statewide elections.

Moreover, Webb's bloggers should be calling for Democrats and Independents who can’t stand the idea of six more years of Allen to do the unusual -- vote in a primary. Anyone who has followed politics in Virginia knows primary turnouts are usually quite low. Conventional thinking would say a low turnout favors Miller.

Instead, every time anyone with a heartbeat endorses Webb, we read on certain blogs that the race is over, OVER, SO OVER!!!


Someone in Webb’s camp -- maybe the candidate? -- should tell his blogging forces to quit being such angry copycats and gear themselves for a long run. Accordingly, the first thing they should do toward that long run is try being a little more engaging to an undecided reader who is just starting to pay much attention to the primary race. Try being persuasive.

Try trumpeting to the bored undecideds there’s a fresh face in the Democratic Party, a man who thinks for himself, who has the potential to win over disillusioned Republicans in November. They should change their tone for the last three weeks because if anyone judges the candidate by his followers -- and we know they sometimes do -- Webb’s lathered up bloggers have not exactly been putting their man’s best foot forward.

Maybe Webb himself needs to show some leadership and hose them down.


Anonymous said...

Good advice; but it appears that the Webb bloggers may be getting their anger and attitude of absolute certainty of opinion from their candidate:

This is a disconcerting Democratic primary

Neo said...

umm, aren't we less than three weeks before the primary, and isn't it a tad bit late to harp on Webb bloggers, though with meaningful criticisms?

The train left the station long ago (hint: 3 months ago) and its almost reached its destination. Its hard to turn things around now.

thegools said...

The forces against Webb are doing an eleventh hour trip into the bone yard and smearing the good name of a good man.

I think you are right. Stating the great benefits of Webb and stating clearly where he stands on the issues is of the utmost importance. Many people do not pay attention until the eleventh hour, hence the smearing. Will democrats never learn that killing each other leaves only the Republican standing.

Good post.

Virginia Centrist said...

Woah woah woah!!!

I hope you're not referring to me...

My posts are anything but humorless...

F.T. Rea said...

In the last couple of weeks I’ve spoken with three people who’ve said they will be voting for Webb, in some part due to conversations with me and reading my commentary on the race.

One of the three said she has a Webb sign up in her Fan District front yard. When she told me about the yard sign she thanked me for pointing Webb out to her in the first place.

She occasionally reads SLANTblog. As I know her views on politics well, suddenly it occurred to me that if she stumbled across some of the more extreme Webb-supporting blogs by clicking on links from Lefty Blogs, it might make her want to take her sign down, so as to not be associated with such tacky tactics.

Then I read the Gibson piece I linked to above. It was encouraging to see someone more or less agreed with me. Thus, even though I doubt many of the bloggers I scolded will pay much attention to it, I decided to weigh in on the subject one more time, hoping to do some good.

Dig this: I have lived in Richmond all my life and followed Virginia politics a long time. I know -- without question -- the tone of the most partisan Webb bloggers has frequently been over-the-top in a grating-on-the-nerves fashion that’ll bother way too many of the very people Webb needs to reach.

So, I say Jim Webb should wise up -- in the home stretch of this race he needs to take the reins of his campaign’s propaganda machine in his own hands. Webb should tell his people to immediately stop blaming Harris Miller for establishing the tone of what has largely been a negative campaign from both sides. It sounds childish and something akin to saying, “The devil made me do it.”

With the primary two-and-a-half weeks away I think the Webb activists, official and self-styled, still have an opportunity to attract new voters. Yet, I believe that if they continue with the same overbearing style they’ve been using, for every one convert they manage to get, they’ll probably turn off/gross out five others they could have gotten.

To borrow from George Orwell, with a twist -- “In a time of constant shouting, speaking in a civil tone becomes a revolutionary act.”

furrycat said...

Now you got me confused. What overbearing style are Webb bloggers using? Care to cite some specific examples?

ft rea, the thing is Miller has virtually no bloggers supporting him. (Except one, Alice Marshall). Why is that? And are the Webb bloggers to blame if Miller doesn't have an online grassroots presence? Surely not.

The negative tone of the campaign is largely coming from Miller. He has accused Webb of not being a real Democrat, of being a racist and a misogynist. Miller is willfully dividing the party in the process. Webb has always tried to stay above the fray and stay positive. Compare the robocalls, mail in pieces, and Miller's TV ad and decide for yourself who is making this campaign negative.

Anonymous said...

You complain about what tthe Webb bloggers are saying and how rabid they are.

You wrote this a few previously:

"Hey, based on his on-camera persona in that debate I truly wonder if Mr. Miller could get elected dogcatcher in his own county."

Perhaps next time you take on overzealous Webb bloggers you should start by looking in a mirror.

F.T. Rea said...


Thanks for taking the time to comment.

Actually, I think one of Webb’s best points is that he seems to be the more dynamic candidate, a better challenger for George Allen.

By some measure party insider Harris Miller may seem qualified to be a senatorial candidate. But from what I’ve seen of him on television he comes across as bland and scared. Miller may be smart man and a good Democrat, but he’s just not cut out to run for office. It’s a fact of life -- the vast majority of us weren‘t cut out to be the candidate in any election.

My dogcatcher crack underlined that point.

It’s an old line and it seemed apt. It in no way attacked Miller’s character, his tactics or his supporters. It spoke only, and playfully, to his potential as a vote-getter.

If you really can’t tell the difference between that old saw and the stuff my piece was about then you’re not only afraid to post your name, you’re out of your league.

F.T. Rea said...


If you’ve followed the blogging that’s swirled around the campaign and honestly can’t tell what I’m talking about, then I can’t help you. To me that means you’re so focused on your goal you can’t see anything else. Fine. Go for it.

Furthermore, I won’t use quotes/examples because I’m not going to play that game. I’m not trying to get into a rhubarb with any thin-skinned bloggers, just to promote myself in the blogosphere. I’ll leave that to the younger set.

Moreover, I think the people who ought to read my posts on this matter will probably see them. I hope so. If they want to blow off my observations and advice that’s their business.

At this desk, I’m trying get Jim Webb elected. That’s what these posts are about. I have no hidden agenda.

furrycat said...

Have the Webb bloggers gone over the top in some of their posts? I don't think so. Loud in some cases? Yes. But that's to be expected in a close race. I have no problems making this campaign about issues. But when it turned personal and many distortions crept in, I can see why Webb bloggers came to his defense and may have done so stridently in some instances. Also, I can see how it looks like a pile on when 90 percent of the Virginia Dem bloggers support Webb.

Thankfully, we got less than three weeks till the primary so this camapign is almost over.

Howling Latina said...

Every election cycle, SOMEONE writes a post about the state of this campaign or that one; and how nasty it is.

It's a sure sign of the closing minutes of EVERY campaign.

As for the writer who wrote the article claiming to be an impartial observer yet only highlights Webb's apparent unforgiveable sin, to have passionate bloggers on his side.
please excuse me while I wipe away my tears along with a heavy dose of smirk and contempt.

I would be honored to be quoted by someone who thinks Howling Latina should follow some dictum that NO ONE ever follows but professes to exist, SOMEWHERE in time memorial.

I am passionate about who I think will win the seat for the Democrats in November; and I have to use whatever language I find appropriate in my blog to express my sentiments.

R. Lawson said...

You guys really don't get it. The reason there are angry blogs against Miller is that he is a horrible human being.

You may have political differences with Webb - maybe you do and maybe you don't. But Miller is poison to the Democratic party. The fact that some insiders initially seem to have endorsed him (and later retracted) has me concerned.

I want the Democratic party to stand against unrestricted offshoring and for immigration policy that is BOTH labor and immigrant friendly. Harris Miller is all about the corporations and their special interests.

I have been an opponent of Miller before he even thought of running for Senate - years. He is an evil man. You guys just getting to know him now are just starting to realize this - but you still don't know just how much.

The man is not a good person. He is wealthy and uses that to influence our government - to do bad things.

Let's just call a spade a spade. Miller is evil. Webb is a good man and has done good things in his life - sure he isn't perfect but who is?

Miller has a long career of serving his own special interests. He even allowed his own board of directors at the ITAA to push him around - and donate to Republican politicians that he says he doesn't personally support.

What doest that say about his character? I would never allow my boss to tell me who to donate my money to. Absurd. Miller would be a poison to the Democratic party.

Virginia Centrist said...

Actually - most people don't read blogs.

If they happen across Raising Kaine and see Democrats finding fault in Miller, they'll read it in the context of Democrats finding fault with Miller...

The occasionally blog reader doesn't read it through OUR context (day after day after day of attacks on Miller).

F.T. Rea said...

Like it or not, Jim Webb has some blogging supporters who conveniently confuse passion and loyalty with rudeness and puffery. A glance at a few of the comments above makes it easy to see what I was writing about in the original piece. In the big picture, are they helping or hurting their candidate?

Since Miller is “evil” nothing else matters. Few people will be convinced by such drivel. But a lot of potential voters might be put off by such silly/reckless language.

Obviously, some of Webb’s Internet supporters resent honest criticism of their methods, even if it comes from a friend to their cause.

To them I say -- before you blow another gasket, please reread that piece -- yes, I’m an open Webb supporter and have been all along. And, beyond my scolding about their "anger" my problem with the strategy of the Webb bloggers was based in some part on their bluff to sell the notion that Miller hasn’t got a chance in the primary against Webb, simply because Webb has more/louder bloggers.


Perhaps the thing that matters to some of Webb’s busy zealots is that I'm not conforming to their group-think approach.