Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Brown's Internet Strategy; Hackett's Substance

Sherrod Brown has some internet savvy. He started a website, heavy with blogginess that allowed registrants to post and billed itself as a portal for progressive organizing (never mind Blue 88 on the web and a half-dozen less web-intensive organizations doing the same thing). He hired Tim Tagaris whose web knowledge is so extensive he got hired away by the DNC. Tim did all the right things, including posting comments on blogs that linked to the site. Despite my lukewarm post, he was studiously upbeat in his comment.

So Browns recent blog-based missteps have been downright puzzling. First, there was his ill-advised "neutralize the blogs" comment in an In These Times interview. Now he is waffling on an invitation to Meet the Bloggers. At the same time his staff has been, well, meeting with bloggers. (For the record I am on the campaign's email list for press releases but haven't been personally approached by the campaign, despite actually living in his district.)

Granted, participating in the free-for-all with nonprofessional journalists that is Meet the Bloggers violates any number of classic campaigning rules. But a refusal would clash garishly with the progressive organizer/new media guy image he tried to grow on GrowOhio. Meanwhile, GrOhio itself has devolved into another tiresome campaign blog. Sure Sherrod, I want to read 1200 words on your latest campaign swing. Just let me finish this self-inflicted root canal first.

So do we think Paul Hackett will Meet the Bloggers? Oh, indeed we do. MTB is just the sort of all-in move he's built his loose-lipped candidacy on.

On the other hand, an interview with bloggers might require Hackett to formulate actual policy positions. His website is still devoid of any indication of what the man stands for. How does he feel about making Bush's tax cuts permanent? Cuts to food stamps and Medicaid? Drilling in ANWR? Your guess is as good as mine. He hasn't even been mentioning his pro-choice stands on abortion and guns in this campaign. His entire platform is "Look upon my war record, ye mighty, and despair."

I seem to remember some guy running a Presidential campaign like that once. I'll look up how he did and get back to you.


Anonymous said...

I think Hackett has formulated his policy positions. He just hasn't posted them on his website yet. Why? I don't know.

His positions are very similar to Sherrod's except for guns. However, Hackett comes across as the blunt tough guy when he articulates his positions. He has the ability to jolt the people of lower economic class who habitually vote Republican into seeing the truth.

Bill Clinton once said that the people will vote strong-and-wrong over weak-and-right.

The biggest Dem-killer in rural Ohio is the gun issue. It does far more damage than abortion or gay marriage. Hackett taking the gun issue away from the Republicans is a major plus, and we Democrats need to be mindful of this.

Hackett is liberal on every other issue. I think conceding the gun control issue is the worth the trade for a Senate seat. Hackett is all for gun safety, reducing crime, and enforcing existing gun laws, but he is aware of how sensitive the hunters are to the phrase "gun control" and he wants to make very clear to them that he is on their side.

Anonymous said...

"Hackett is liberal on every other issue" how do we know this? Only time I see him on TV or read about him in the newspaper he is bashing Bush about something (Not that there is anything wrong with that). But I'd really like to know what he actually stands for. Brown seems to have laid out what exactly he stands for, on his web site and during his announcement tour speeches.

Tim said...

Thanks for the kind words, Pho.


Anonymous said...

I know Hackett is liberal on every other issue from his positions when he ran for Congress back in August. Did anybody pay attention to that race??? It seems that many here in northern Ohio didn't. Therefore, they think Sherrod is God and that he should be allowed to do whatever the hell he wants.

Look, it's early, so it's OK if Hackett doesn't have his positions on his website yet. Also, as much as I think Sherrod stands for great things, we should not get so pent up in our little pet issues. This has been such a fatal mistake by us liberals in the past. Let's not be one issue voters!!!

We should pick someone who represents our views in the composite sense and has the best chance of convincing voters of all kinds to support him. Indeed, it's a difficult and delicate balance, but it's a necessary balance and it should not be one sided.

Anonymous said...

Hackett's website is

Scott Piepho said...

I can live with the gun thing. I don't like it, but I can live with it.

What I can't live with is a perpetuation of the Democratic strategy of pretending that policy discussions are too complicated for the poor dumb electorate to bother with. We've gotten our asses kicked for the better part of two decades in large part because of this nonsense. I thought Hackett was above Schrumianism, but his thus far idea-free campaign is not reassuring.

Here's what I recall from the OH-2 campaign. He had a website up with an "Issues" page. I may have seen it once and saw nothing that really offended me save the gun thing and, again, I'll suck that up.

When he announced for the Senate his website was still the website for the OH-2 run, but the Issues page was gone. Now he has a shiny new Senate website, but nothing about policy stands.

Meanwhile -- and bad on me for not collecting links -- I keep seeing pro-Hackett blog comments along the lines of "issues, schmissues." I don't think it's viral blogging (the Anonymous commenter on this post has identified himself in an email), but it does seem to be a growing sentiment in Hackettonia. I think it's a dangerous strategy for winning the state. I can tell you unequivocally it's a fatal strategy for winning my vote.