10/25/2005

The Lament of Victor Frankenstein

No one has done more to promote the growth of the right side of the blogosphere than Hugh Hewitt. He has encouraged at least hundreds if not thousands of conservatives and Republicans to enter the blogging world with his book and tireless promotion on the radio and in personal appearances. He even started a "Blog of the Week" contest (that I was fortunate enough to win a few weeks back) to encourage bloggers. Today I wonder if he isn't regretting his success.

For, like Frankenstein's monster, the creature he helped bring to life and nurture has escaped his control and is working powerfully against his desired ends. Hugh supports the nomination of Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court; in fact, it would not be too much to say that she has no stronger or more vocal supporter in her corner.

In his latest exposition, he wrote: "Given these stakes, though, I was surprised, and remained surprised, at how quickly the assault on the nominee began, and how it escalated in intensity and rhetorical excess as the weeks have passed." But why should Hugh be surprised? That is the nature of the blogosphere--you get instant reaction to everything that happens. "Live-blogging" everything from presidential debates to football games gives people the opportunity to express their immediate impressions and reactions. And the blogosphere does not respond to the power structure of any political party. It has a will (or wills) and a mind (or minds) of its own, and leaders don't get to pick and choose

I put up my first post about Harriet Miers at 6:55 (Pacific) on the morning her nomination was announced. I did that immediately on hearing the news on television--I didn't wait for Bill Kristol, National Review, Rush Limbaugh, Michelle Malkin, Laura Ingraham or anyone else to tell me what to think. I knew why I didn't like the nomination, and by the way, if the President was truly surprised by the response, it's because his staff totally failed him. There are millions of people they could have asked who would have told them how people would respond.

The leveling power of the new media is a sword that cuts both directions. The Republican Party benefited mightily from it during the 2004 election. It is not too bold a point to say that the 60 Minutes story, in the days of a single dominant media, would probably have sealed the election of John Kerry. But the blogosphere's quick and intense response defeated the once-mighty CBS and Dan Rather.

The genie cannot be put back into the bottle. Control of information and dominance of the discussion has passed beyond the purview of a privileged few. As much or more than anyone else, Hugh brought this to pass. He has used his energy and talents to give opportunity for a voice to people like me who previously had no means to influence others. I listen to him almost every day, I enjoy his humor and I usually agree with him. I've expressed the reasons for my disagreement on the Miers nomination, but the point of this post is to look at the nature of the blogging world. It truly is beyond the ability of anyone to control. And on balance, I think that's a good thing.

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