Wackos

by Henry on January 21, 2006

This “Financial Times article”:https://registration.ft.com/registration/barrier?referer=&location=http%3A//news.ft.com/cms/s/df63c89c-89fb-11da-86d1-0000779e2340.html (sub required) has a quote from an email written by Michael Scanlon, former bagman for Tom DeLay and Jack Abramoff, which sums up the modern Republican party in two sentences.

bq. Michael Scanlon … explained the strategy in an e-mail to a tribal client. “Simply put, we want to bring out the wackos to vote against something and make sure the rest of the public lets the whole thing slip past them,” he wrote. “The wackos get their information [from] the Christian right, Christian radio, e-mail, the internet and telephone trees.”

Fundamentalist wackos, stirred up by cynical political operators in it for the money. Not a pretty picture.

The rise of blogs

by Henry on January 21, 2006

“Danny Glover”:http://beltwayblogroll.nationaljournal.com/archives/2006/01/the_rise_of_blo.php at the _National Journal_ has written one of the best summary articles on blogs and their consequences for US politics that I’ve seen. It picks up on something that’s under-reported and under-studied – how blogs change politics through reframing political and policy issues. Most assessments of blogs and politics focus on how bloggers have successfully demanded the heads of Trent Lott, Eason Jordan etc on platters. This is the most visible consequence of blogs – but not the most important. The more fundamental (albeit much more difficult to measure) impact of blogs has been in reframing political issues such as Social Security for the media and other elite political actors, thus helping to change (sometimes in quite fundamental ways) the basis of political conversations. As Dan Drezner and I “claimed”:http://www.henryfarrell.net/blogpaperapsa.pdf the year before last, blogs’ primary impact on politics is through this kind of indirect influence. The Corey Maye case is a good example of a case where blogs have failed to have an impact, as Mark Kleiman (his site seems to be down; hence no direct link) suggested some weeks ago. Even though it created a massive “spike of attention”:http://www.blogpulse.com/trend?query1=%22corey+maye%22&label1=&query2=&label2=&query3=&label3=&days=90&x=37&y=3 on both the left and right of the blogosphere, it hasn’t had wider repercussions – because other political elites (journalists, policy-makers) haven’t picked up on it. But where other political elites do have an incentive to pick up on what bloggers are saying (as was true in the Social Security debate, where journalists desperately needed ways of framing and simplifying a complex and highly salient political issue for their readers) the political effects can be very substantial indeed.

Geography is Hard

by Kieran Healy on January 21, 2006

Via “Max”:http://maxspeak.org/mt/archives/001917.html comes a Washington Post column on The Realities of International Relations by “Robert Kagan”:http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/01/13/AR2006011301696.html who apparently is a “transatlantic fellow at the German Marshall Fund.” But not, it seems, a transpacific one:

bq. China’s (and Malaysia’s) attempt to exclude Australia from a prominent regional role at the recent East Asian summit has reinforced Sydney’s desire for closer ties.