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The Media News

The Internet, Media and Politics 322

Several people submitted an interesting column on Davenet about the differences in methodologies of the Dean campaign and other primary campaigns. Of course, the analogy doesn't have to be strictly Dean - it can apply to any candidate who breaks from the traditional norms of campaigning. and while I think people have been saying since 1996 that this is the year of the Internet in politics, for me this is the first *real* use of the Internet in a meaningful way. In any case, the question of productization in politics is a very real one, and should be discussed.
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The Internet, Media and Politics

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  • by Tuxedo Jack ( 648130 ) on Monday February 09, 2004 @10:19AM (#8225161) Homepage
    Just wait until they start spamming us.
    • Re:Yeah, well... (Score:5, Informative)

      by Tuxedo Jack ( 648130 ) on Monday February 09, 2004 @10:25AM (#8225209) Homepage
      Why the hell was this modded funny? I'm serious. I got phone spam from Talmadge Heflin back when he ran in 2000, and I expect it to get worse this year.
    • Re:Yeah, well... (Score:4, Informative)

      by lukewarmfusion ( 726141 ) on Monday February 09, 2004 @10:27AM (#8225234) Homepage Journal
      I remember: "Barbara Bush" called damn near everyone I know. The last thing I want to hear when I get home from my taxpaying - I'm sorry, working - is a recording of an old lady telling me to vote for so and so or give more of my money to whatever.
      • by superflippy ( 442879 ) on Monday February 09, 2004 @11:20AM (#8225731) Homepage Journal
        As you know, we just had our primary here in SC last week. Some of my friends said they had robo-call messages left on their answering machines from the Kerry campaign that said something like, "If you want to hear more about John Kerry's economic plan, press 1. If you want to hear about his military service, press 2..." and so on. I can't help wondering how many people stood there listening to their voice mail, hitting numbers on their phone and wondering "Why doesn't this dang thing work?"
    • Re:Yeah, well... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by rm007 ( 616365 ) on Monday February 09, 2004 @10:50AM (#8225442) Journal
      Just wait until they start spamming us.

      This is not funny, this is insightful in its foresight. Remember, political calls are exempt from the US national do-not-call list. The poster is correct, as politicians adapt themselves to the internet, they will adopt the marketing techniques of the environment and that includes spam.
      • This is actually good, because people will come out in droves and vote againt candidates who spam. Clued-in candidates will finally manage to hold office, and utopia will spontaneously erupt in the Western Hemisphere.
      • No, widespread candidate spam isn't going to happen. Here's why: when you get viagra spam and chuck it, you do no harm to the spammer. It's not like you're going to go out the next day and boycott viagra. But if you have a choice about a product you see heavily spammed and one you don't, the choice will be clear.

        If anything, I'd expect candidates to spoof spam from each other.

        --grendel drago
      • Re:Yeah, well... (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Jerf ( 17166 )
        Maybe. Along with the annoyance factor mentioned by another poster, if you were a politician, would you prefer to:
        • Use a well-established channel like Television that gives full motion video and puts you in good company with other professionally-done advertisements, or
        • End up with your campaign spam sandwiched between penis enlargers, pyramid schemes, viruses, phishing, viagra offers, and "undeliverable mail" notifications?

        Oh, I'm sure a couple of candidates will try this, but consider the company their ca

    • Ah. How soon we forget. The Dean campaign actually did hire a spam operation and sent a substantial amount before they got tracked down and called to task about it. IIRC, they then changed their story from "we didn't do it", to "we did it" while showing no remorse at having done so.
      • Ah. How soon we forget. The Dean campaign actually did hire a spam operation and sent a substantial amount before they got tracked down and called to task about it. IIRC, they then changed their story from "we didn't do it", to "we did it" while showing no remorse at having done so.

        They hired a spamhaus but they were sending the message to their own mailing list of folk who subscribed on the web page. Should they have investigated a bit more? Well actually thats a bit tricky.

        The problem is that if you

  • Sigh (Score:5, Funny)

    by CGP314 ( 672613 ) <(ten.remlaPyrogerGniloC) (ta) (PGC)> on Monday February 09, 2004 @10:19AM (#8225164) Homepage
    Internet was looking for a candidate

    Really? I didn't know the Internet like to be anthropomorphised.

    -Colin []
  • Those who used to research candidates before can now hit their website and get a quick summary instead of digging through newspapers and mass mailers.

    Those who never really cared, pretty much still don't care, even if all they have to do is click on a website and read.

    The biggest affect has been that communication within groups of like-minded individuals has been greatly increased. Between sites like for live meetings and email discussion lists for ongoing meetings online, if you care about an issue or set of issues, you can coordinate with others who feel the same way.

    It's gotten to the point where non-internet enabled members of political organizations are starting to feel left out because they miss 90% of what goes on in their group.
    • The biggest affect has been that communication within groups of like-minded individuals has been greatly increased. Between sites like for live meetings and email discussion lists for ongoing meetings online, if you care about an issue or set of issues, you can coordinate with others who feel the same way.

      For the most part I agree (or at least agreed) with your observations, but this post-mortems of Dean's run [] (by a Dean supporter no less) does, I think, a hell of a job pointing out some of the
    • The biggest affect has been that communication within groups of like-minded individuals has been greatly increased. Between sites like for live meetings and email discussion lists for ongoing meetings online, if you care about an issue or set of issues, you can coordinate with others who feel the same way.

      Of course, while that can be a great thing, it's also one of the biggest drawbacks to the internet. Why debate (politically or otherwise) when it's so easy for people to find a big group of

  • Productization? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by heironymouscoward ( 683461 ) <heironymouscowar ... m ['oo.' in gap]> on Monday February 09, 2004 @10:24AM (#8225200) Journal
    Apart from the horrid word, it's hardly a new process. Every electable official since the days of... well, since there were elections, has been a product shaped to win a constituency.

    Dean did well using the Internet was because his constituency was one that relies on the Net for news and views.

    But he failed for the same reason: he still spoke to a minority. For the majority, presidents have to be Presidential. In todays' world this means good looks and charm and political skill.

    Expect future party machines to use the Internet much more, yes, but don't expect future presidents to be any less chosen on their ability to look good on television.
    • The odd thing is, if your standard is "good looks and charm and political skill," it's hard to explain what's going on in the current Democratic race. Good looks? I'd say Dean is better-looking than Kerry; none of the contenders is especially handsome by most people's standards, except maybe Edwards. Charm? Kerry is an incredibly boring speaker; Dean and Clark may not be exactly charming, but their straight-up speaking style is a hell of a lot more listenable than Kerry's repertoire of Stupid Politicia
      • > Dean and Clark may not be exactly charming, but their straight-up speaking style is a hell of a lot more listenable than Kerry's repertoire of Stupid Politician Tricks.

        There's a reason they're called Stupid Politician Tricks.

        Sure, they're Stupid. Yeah, they're Tricks. But they work well enough that people who use them most effectively can outstrip the restrictions of the Lawyer class and achieve membership in the Politician class.

    • Every electable official since the days of... well, since there were elections, has been a product shaped to win a constituency.

      True. For a good example of this, check out this list of campaign slogans [] dating back to 1840.
      My favorite is James Blaine's 1844 "Ma, Ma, Where's my Pa, Gone to the White House, Ha, Ha, Ha." Of course, since you're probably wondering "Who the hell is James Blaine?" we can see how well that slogan worked.
  • by Faust7 ( 314817 ) on Monday February 09, 2004 @10:24AM (#8225202) Homepage
    for me this is the first *real* use of the Internet in a meaningful way.

    Not to get too off-topic here -- but I consider communicating with friends and family to be at least as important as political activism.

    • And I consider pornography as at least as important as communicating with friends and family.

      Just trolling... ;-)

      • I have to agree. :) I don't use the internet for communication with my friends and family. The majority of them live in the same town and the others I visit when work takes me their way.

        At first I was going to give you a Funny mod, but I think it would have been meta-moderated into oblivion.

        Your port does, however, deserve a Funny mod.


    • The original whole sentence you snipped clearly distinguished the writer's intent to say that this was the first real and meaningful political use of the Internet.

      The first "real" use of the Internet was to share academic study materials between Universities and DARPA partners. So? Focus, dude.

  • Howard Dean may have been the internet candidate. But i doubt it. Unfortunately, his campaign is parralleling the dot com bust of the late 90's. The internet is a great way for candidates to construct platforms,and for voters to learn of candidates. It just so happens Dean turned out to to have a self destructive, insane quality that turned folks off. Dean is toast. I just wish he would get out the race, because I feel pity for his futility.
    Dean is now looks like he has an alein in his head and
    • I think Dave Winer doesn't give the media consumers any respect with his 'manufactured consent' argument. This reminds me of when an established recording artist has passed their peak and will do anything for a hit--no matter how often you play the new single, the audience has lost interest. You can't force them to be interested. The thing no one is talking about is why the audience was so receptive to the Dean 'scream' story--they were the ones who were aching to take him down a peg.
      • "I think Dave Winer doesn't give the media consumers any respect with his 'manufactured consent' argument."

        I don't think it matters whether he does or not: Dave Winer is a hacker.

        I don't consult Hollywood for its political views and, frankly, we need Dave Winer coding more and puniditing on politics less.

        His web site was a favorite of mine for years (day 1, actually) but I have since banned him from my shortcuts bar and seldom look in on him. When I do (I'm an optimist), I'm always disappointed to see mo
    • by Anonymous Coward
      It just so happens Dean turned out to to have a self destructive, insane quality that turned folks off.

      Dean was yelling to be heard over the noise... unfortunately, the microphones had noise cancellation filters.

      Not that you'll hear this from mainstream media -- it's more newsworthy to just play the scream.
  • first real? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Savatte ( 111615 ) on Monday February 09, 2004 @10:26AM (#8225220) Homepage Journal
    me this is the first *real* use of the Internet in a meaningful way

    Well the Blair Witch Project, back in 1999 used an internet-based marketing approach to rack up 140 million dollars. Not only that, it set the standard for how movies are marketed online.

    Just because this is about entertainment and art and not politics doesn't make it less real. There's a lot of money in movies.
    • The original whole sentence you snipped was clear: the first real and meaningful use politically. It's the topic for this whole thread. Why are you babbling about some useless handicam movie and its marketing buzz?
  • Before everyone starts jumping up and down claiming that "productization" of politics is a bad thing-- please realize it`s been happening since the inception of the US republic: the tracts coming out of Boston (Common Sense, Federalist Papers) were all "productization" of one form or another-- the idea that you must package a message in palpable and swallowable formats for the masses to recieve and understand that message.

    Poets, Priests and Politicians use words for your submission. The Internet thrives on disseminating text. It's just taken a while for the campaigns to figure out the most effective ways of doing that. Looking back, it makes sense that this would only happen _after_ the hypsters of the dot-com era faded away. Now that all the Flash intros, goofy graphics and image maps have all evaporated, the Internet is (hopefully) getting back to what it does best: disseminate text and solicit commentary. Wikipedia, Slashdot, Fark, and Google all understand this.

  • by KNicolson ( 147698 ) on Monday February 09, 2004 @10:32AM (#8225278) Homepage
    Had Dean decided to help develop the human network of citizen journalists, providing coverage not just of his campaign, and not just the good spin of his campaign, he might have been able to survive the onslaught of the television networks.
    The statistics say that only a few percentage of the online population read blogs. How would that have changed anything?

    Oh, and as a sort-of side note, that's the first time I've ever read Dave Winer's blog. Is his writing always that bad and his arguements that disconnected? I've been living in a non-English-speaking country for a few years, and I felt the English he used was as bad as mine is sometimes. What's his excuse?

  • by JabberWokky ( 19442 ) <> on Monday February 09, 2004 @10:32AM (#8225281) Homepage Journal
    He loves the internet... as long as you log in through a authorized system:

    "On the Internet, this card will confirm all the information required to gain access to a state (government) network--while also barring anyone who isn't legal age from entering an adult chat room, making the Internet safer for our children, or prevent adults from entering a children's chat room and preying on our kids...Many new computer systems are being created with card reader technology. Older computers can add this feature for very little money," Dean said.

    Source []. Scary... the man is looking to displace Bush, and he's more Orwellian in thought. Read the article.


  • by Oddly_Drac ( 625066 ) on Monday February 09, 2004 @10:34AM (#8225300)
    "In any case, the question of productization in politics is a very real one, and should be discussed."

    In a couple of years or so, we should be able to bid for our representation, much as goes on with the corporate sponsors, although I think they should wear badges to make such things obvious.

    As for Dean, he was doing quite well until Trippi advised him that big, nasty lockdowns on personal PCs was the way to go, coincidentally somethng that Wave Systems (Trippi's company) would have cleaned up on. Palladium/DRM from a Democrat?

    • Palladium/DRM from a Democrat?

      Is that surprising? Don't forget about Clinton's Clipper Chip [].

      Are Democrats more interested in personal freedom than Republicans, or does it just seem that way since the media harps endlessly on the Republicans and gives the Democrats a free ride?

  • by segment ( 695309 ) <(sil) (at) (> on Monday February 09, 2004 @10:35AM (#8225309) Homepage Journal
    Internet in politics, for me this is the first *real* use of the Internet in a meaningful way

    I won't bother getting into a political shootout over this so here's my two ^*. The last place I would want to look towards when thinking of the pResidency, votes, voters* (and any variation of this) would be online. How many articles have you seen on Diebold, and all of the quirks associated with things political.

    Wait before you shoot some quick response, I know this has little to do with voting so let me shift. Using the net in the fashion Dean has, is nothing new, he's probably the only one smart enough to publicize it though. Remember, many Americans aren't that literate when it comes to computing as it is, so think about this... Who are his real followers, and one has to know these numbers the Dean camp or whomever can be tweaked.

    E.g.: or whatever sites associated with them show 1,000,000 visitors for February. Oh really? How many unique visitors, etc. Don't throw out numbers without backing it. Secondly, when it comes to computing, for all you know, there could be some 13-17 (under the voting age) kids playing around with Dean & Co. No you say? Prove it. Who in Dean or any camp can say with a straight face "We've attracted 1,000,000 legal aged voters that live in America" that would be a flat out lie. Even if say "" (where Big Company was a Fortune 500 co.) connected to someone's party, how do you know it's not a misconfigured proxy allowing anyone to connect.

    Dumb users spread viruses []. Irrelevant? I definitely think not. I would not look to the net for the next best thing "politically" for a long ass time. Now when someone decided to post "this is the first *real* use of the Internet in a meaningful way" ... They should have thought up something more meaningful like medical studies or something similar. My personal "REAL USE" of the internet would be the sharing of information on the educational level a-la MIT's Open Course Ware, and other projects similar to that. However I think medically it's underdeveloped and could rock. Think distributed dna sequencing type stuff.

    Oh well my ramblings for the day

    • Hm, this presents an odd idea -- what if someone wrote a virus to make http requests to one candidate's web site to make it look as if they were getting lots of traffic, but it was really some guy in Russia with an odd sence of humor.

      Which is exactly your point, I suppose.

  • by CousinLarry ( 640750 ) on Monday February 09, 2004 @10:37AM (#8225323)
    As a platform for political wheedling, the net could change the dynamics of voter behavior very much, but only in conjunction with REAL online voting.

    What happens when, like telephone proliferation in the US, reliable net access is in the hands of vitually all americans and unique, verifiable online identifiers are adopted for users? Online voting is just the first - and most obvious - step. Politicians (and PACS, grassroots orgs and radicals as well) could cheaply distribute and track effectiveness of their messages. Most importantly, they could more easily gather vote paydirt from the largest (and previously unreachable) voting majority in the US - the non-voter - who I argue is just too damn lazy and busy to walk to thier local elementary school and push a button.

    What if there was a link from Dean's blog to a "voting proxy" system which would cast your vote online for you on election day - even if you forgot? take away unidirection persuasive material and physical polling places and you'll have voting weirdness the likes this country has never seen.
    • What happens when ... unique, verifiable online identifiers are adopted for users?

      What happens when privacy goes down the toilet? Lots of bad stuff.

      which would cast your vote online for you on election day

      You realize that's a crazy idea, right?
  • Please.... (Score:5, Funny)

    by djupedal ( 584558 ) on Monday February 09, 2004 @10:38AM (#8225331)
    ...for me this is the first *real* use of the Internet in a meaningful way.

    Step back from the keyboard for a need a good slap.
  • by Mr. Slippery ( 47854 ) <> on Monday February 09, 2004 @10:39AM (#8225344) Homepage
    In the lead-up to the war in Iraq, for some reason, people who were against the war didn't speak...
    Excuse me? Hundreds of thousands of us protested, you know. People were harrassed, even arrested for speaking their mind. Certainly there were those who were intimidated into silence, but this guy makes it sound like there was no anti-war movement before Dean spoke up. Please!
    • First rule of politics, the guy you like best is never wrong, can never make mistakes, always has everyone's best needs in mind (even those who completly think they are wrong), does everything first, walks on water, oh, and is never wrong.

      This is the case for most political writers on all sides of the spectrum.

  • by mwood ( 25379 ) on Monday February 09, 2004 @10:41AM (#8225360)
    I must agree with one point in the article, at least. The way to use the 'net in politics is to use it to the hilt, and assume that the traditional implements of power will act against you. Using it as just a nontraditional means of fundraising and then trying to spend the money with the people you just bypassed is not too bright.

    Instead, go *completely* nontraditional. Don't buy into the claim that you have to spend big to win big. For very little money a candidate can now have what amounts to his own publishing empire, one that's very difficult for the entrenched interests to silence or drown out. Point out that the other guys are spending $100 million to win a job that pays $0.5 million a year, and ask if that seems fiscally responsible, or even sane. Publish *detailed analyses* instead of meaningless sound bites and vague strokes, for people who want to read 'em, and make a point of the fact that *your* thinking is always available for study while *they* seem to want to hide all their details. Dredge up the news that's important to you, and become known as a place where people can find the stuff that's kept out of the daily papers. Don't try to outspend 'em; try to out-write 'em.
    • Yep. Do that, and you'll be a smashing success... among the three percent of the population who cares enough to research their candidates and issues.

      Real elections are won by masses of voters who probably didn't watch the debates, know who the front-runner is because the newspaper told them, and vote for the taller candidate no matter what.

      --grendel drago
  • by BigBadBri ( 595126 ) on Monday February 09, 2004 @10:46AM (#8225410)
    that the article put forward was that the media have a vested interest in seeing as much money as possible going into campaign advertising, and that they marginalise those candidates who fail to pay them by denying them news coverage.

    How much of this is true, and how much Dean being an unattractive, unsympathetic dipshit of a candidate had to do with the lack of campaign coverage for him, we'll never know.

    But for those of us cynical about politics, it's a good mini-conspiracy theory that campaign ad money could, in the worst of all possible worlds, buy news coverage for a candidate.

    • How much of this is true, and how much Dean being an unattractive, unsympathetic dipshit of a candidate had to do with the lack of campaign coverage for him, we'll never know.

      We may never know, but you certainly talk like you think you know.
  • by supersam ( 466783 ) on Monday February 09, 2004 @10:47AM (#8225413) Homepage
    There are two points to be considered here...
    1. Internet Campaigning
    2. Productization of politics/politicians

    Its all well for us to be discussing why Dean has done so badly inspite of his Internet-campaign. But the fact is that with over 98% of American households owning television and with each American watching over 4 hours of television daily, on an average, its naive to underestimate power of the television and in turn, the power of the networks. Compared with that, under 80% of the households own a personal computer. While television is a mass medium, the Internet is still a personal medium. So it was foolish of Dean to ignore this simple fact.

    But yes, he has shown that it is possible to bypass the big networks entirely and still make an impact!

    Coming to the second issue... that of productization of politics and/or politicians, well, its a mutual thing! The politicians consider the voters as mere means to get elected. Moreover, the people are fed information, by the politicians, that they would find easy to accept. Productization of politicis is this method of putting a spin on everything. And its not a bad thing by default.
  • [] is raising funds for Presidential candidates, and Gary Nolan, a Libertarian candidate for President [] has the second highest amount of donations ($12,600), Just behind John Kerry. He is beating John Edwards, Wesley Clark, and President Bush!
    • isn't a good metric to go by for many reasons, mostly because the candidates didn't start excepting contributions at the same time. For a better idea of what's going on contribution wise, you should check here [].
      • It is true that the candidates didn't start excepting contributions at the same time, but it is true that started accepting them for all the candidates they list at the same time. Therefore it is a good metric for measuring who has gained the most contributions through, which was my sole point.

        By the way, I have no idea why my previous post was modded down as off-topic. It involves the use of internet for politics. The mod must not have read my message, or dislikes my politics...
  • by LarsWestergren ( 9033 ) on Monday February 09, 2004 @10:51AM (#8225448) Homepage Journal
    In the last election in Sweden there was one new party called Fria Listan (the Free List). They were depicted as populist libertarians in the media. I think that had some truth in it, but at the same time I liked some of their ideas. They said they wanted to get away from the old party politics with lots of money spent on politicians going around the country holding speeches on public plazas and so on. Very 1950s...

    This new party tried mainly to spread their ideas using the web and writing articles and letters in newspapers, both because they couldn't afford traditional campaigning and because they thought this was a more rational way in the modern age. They did generate some media attention, so I think a lot of people would at least have heard of them.

    So how did it go? In Sweden we have many more parties represented in parliament, if you get more than 4% nationally or a certain percentage locally, you get a minimum number of seats in parliament. This makes voting for a small party more attractive unlike countries like the US where the winner get everything and therefore parties tend to be reduced to two mainstream, close to the center parties.*

    Total number of votes for the Free List in the election? About 500, from a population of 8 million. Of course, their politics might influence this more than their method of communication, but I was still surprised at how incredibly small the number was. Joke parties like The Donald Duck party have been known to get more votes. Their web page ( is now gone.

    * Of course, the downside of our system is the tendency for weak coalition governments with lots of internal bickering, and special interest parties gaining disproportionate powers because they can tip the scale between bigger parties which are evenly balanced.
  • by AtariAmarok ( 451306 ) on Monday February 09, 2004 @10:57AM (#8225504)
    I visited last week and got rewarded for my visit with a big nasty popup window that his site put on my screen (just like an X10 ad). If they knew anything about the Internet community, they would have known how much people hate these things.
  • What is reality? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by sphealey ( 2855 ) on Monday February 09, 2004 @11:02AM (#8225545)
    Lessons from the Dean campaign:
    • The Internet is not reality. Not yet, anyway.
    • Cluetrain Manifesto is not reality, and probably never will be.

    The Cluetrain one hurts, I think, because so many on-line denizens thought it was real. But 95% of the US population, while using e-mail and occasionally surf the web, does not live its life on-line, and they probably don't want to.


  • by mdielmann ( 514750 ) on Monday February 09, 2004 @11:03AM (#8225548) Homepage Journal
    Yes, I'm sure all those scientists connected around the world were doing anything but advancing the knowledge of mankind. Much more imortant to campaign for leadership of what is admittedly the most influential country in the world...
  • by fhmiv ( 740648 ) on Monday February 09, 2004 @11:04AM (#8225557) Homepage
    Two interesting articles which show the television news media in an unfavorable light:

    Fox News vs CNN [] This gives the news networks the appearance of political in-fighting, just like several of the democratic presidential candidates.

    No exhaustive analysis to see here! Move along! []

    The second article quotes CBS pres Andrew Heyward, "Cable thrives on repetition and, let's be kind, exhaustive analysis, which has to constantly be freshened." Saying ANY of the news networks engage in "exhaustive analysis" is indeed charitable. They replay and replay without ever showing much success in giving context to the newsworthy items they cover. Almost any clip can be made to look wonderful or ridiculous if taken out of context.

    The value of the Internet as news media is you can get the context you need to make sense of the news clips. Good print media is also useful for that, but it's often frustrating to wait for your weekly delivery of the Economist.

    ANY media gains an advantage when the editors can help provide unbiased reporting AND context for the events they cover. The trick is finding editors you can trust.

  • by NixLuver ( 693391 )
    Well, we can't take it back, since we never really had it. The internet is a powerful political force, but right now it's not our political force. When I say "our", I'm referring to those of us in the 90%+ of the population that controls The only way that we can be truly enfranchised in this environment where campaign dollars are king and contributions control legislation is for 'us' to become a motivational financial force capable of supplying a candidate with the cash to get elected, election after electi
  • by HarveyBirdman ( 627248 ) on Monday February 09, 2004 @11:12AM (#8225648) Journal
    I tried to find out about the guy, but all he said or put on his site was basically "Bush is evil. Let's all hate Bush."

    I still have little to no idea exactly what he (or any other Dem) wants to *do*. And I don't mean "create jobs" or "give power back to the people" or some other vapid propaganda. What PRECISELY do they think will lead to those results?

    F*ck the whole lot of them, on both sides. If you think any of them give a crap about you, you are seriously deluded.

  • by dsnowak ( 694482 ) on Monday February 09, 2004 @11:20AM (#8225724)
    Dean's principal problem was not the hostile media. The media is hostile to all candidates--after all, when was the last time you heard a Campaign talk about how happy they are with the coverage of their candidate? Dean's problem was he got stuck in a feedback loop with his base--while his base loved everything he said, the rest of the electorate didn't, and the base was all that Dean's campaign managers listened to. The internet makes it much easier to for minorities to organize and be far more vocal than in the past, but a vocal minority is still a minority. The organization capabilities of the internet made it far easier for Dean to get crowds to his speeches, which made it appear his support was far broader than it was. It used to be three hundred people at a speech early in the campaign was indicative of far greater support, but in Dean's case is simply meant that there were three hundred people in that area who supported him.

    All the things about Dean that his base loved--his irreverence, his red-faced speeches, his jokes--many other voters found annoying and un-Presidential. Some of Dean's policy proposals just made him look silly (like the campaign finance reform proposal where you give $100 to a candidate, the candidate gets "matching" funds of $500 from the Federal campaign funds, and you get to take a $100 credit against your next income tax bill. Net result: $600 flows to the candidate from the Federal coffers, and you don't lose a dime). It didn't help matters that his base could literally see no wrong with their candidate. I read the Dean Campaign blogs for a while, and they were a scary place. When a campaign becomes incapable of criticizing their candidate, a bad ending is almost ensured. Dean's decline in the polls came not so much from voters deserting him, but from all of the "undecided" voters who made up their minds right before the election all choosing other candidates, mainly Kerry.

    I suspect Dean's die-hard supporters will find comfort in the "media assassination" and "Democratic Establishment was scared of us" theories to explain the collapse of their candidate, the fact is in elections, there are winners and losers, and it really doesn't matter how "right" you believe your candidate is, because the other candidates also have supporters who utterly believe they're "right" as well. In the end, the winner is the person who does the best job of persuading other people to support them, not the person who may be right. Just because Democracy doesn't produce the outcome you desire does not mean it isn't working. You win some, you lose some, move on to the next battle.
    • The media is hostile to all candidates

      Right and Wrong. The media is hostile to all candidates, but it is more hostile to some than others. A report now shows that in the week after Iowa, John Kerry and John Edwards recieved 70-80% positive coverage by the media. In contrast, Howard Dean recieved under 40%. I'm certainly not saying this is the main reason or only reason for Dean's fall, but it contributed.

      I read the Dean Campaign blogs for a while, and they were a scary place. When a campaign becomes inc
  • by pangian ( 703684 ) on Monday February 09, 2004 @11:46AM (#8225970)
    I liked the article and agree with a lot of the authors sentiments, but disagree with the overall analysis for a number of reasons:

    1. Dean didn't have the kind of control over his Internet presence to force it to zig or zag. You're right, Dean didn't plan on being an Internet candidate he wandered into it, or rather it wandered in to him. The pissed off Internet masses were bubbling and looking for someone relatively mainstream to throw their support behind. This was a relatively large and vocal group that looked scary, but in the end was a mutual admiration society of bloggers and activists that was going to love Dean and/or themselves no matter what Dean did. However, as much as the zealots of this group have and will always love Dean, the realists in the group realized that ultimately he is unelectable. Right or wrong, he's been painted as angry and he vocalizes for a small section of society. These realists fled the cause for a more electable (and yes mainstream) candidate, come primary day.

    2. The media is dumb. You said it yourself, look at the kind of crap that's on at any given time. Just look at the coverage that Jackson's Teatgate has received. There is no media conspiracy to prop up Kerry. On the contrary, the media bubble had been so Dean focused for so long, that he was bound to disappoint. Instead of being a solid contender now, he a washout, because the media had set such high expectations of his performance.

    All I have time for. Discuss.
  • Dean has'nt won a primary yet. So what did this get him??? NADA ......... Kerry is cleaning house using traditional campaining??? I think this shows that the internet is still in it's infancy as a political medium.
  • The dot com analogy is a lot closer to reality when you think about it.

    Immense hype, mostly from the Internet. Lots of word of mouth. High expectations. Time goes by... nothing happens. Lots of "wait, just wait for it...". Top guy asks troops for salary freeze. Layoffs. Reorganize. Slow painful demise.

    That not only describes what happened to Howard Dean's campaign; it describes many of the dot coms that went bust in the 90s.
  • by Quizo69 ( 659678 ) on Monday February 09, 2004 @12:10PM (#8226218) Homepage

    Don't dismiss the internet as unable to support a political campaign just yet - I have begun my own political party here in Australia, based largely online: [] (be gentle and mirror if you can; I have 8GB monthly quota right now and don't want to get it completely slashdotted)

    Whilst it's early days for my idea, I'm hoping that I can generate enough support to get a senate seat in our upcoming federal election at the end of the year. We don't have the money politics you have in the States, nor do we have primaries and the like. The only stipulation to getting on the ballot here is to have 500 members. There are lots of disenchanted people out there who are fed up with the current climate of politics, and don't feel they have a say anymore. I hope to fix that by being truly representative of the people's choices.

    As a party, we are aiming to be completely open in everything, from software, to policy formation, to financial disclosure etc. We have an active forum where we will hopefully gather ideas from all around the world on how to best serve the people of Australia (which can have flow on effects elsewhere). You are welcome to take our documentation and use it as the basis of your own political party - I want to encourage others to run for politics, so as to try to reduce the current two party system that operates here in Australia, as well as the US etc.

    I've taken a hard line against the imperialist ambitions of the current US administration, but that doesn't mean I hate America. I've served with US forces in Japan and they are just as dedicated to professionalism as we are, with the same hopes and dreams for peace and prosperity. Sadly they're being told to do things they'd rather not do, in far off places around the globe, to serve the narrow interests of a few war-hawks in Washington.

    Anyway, have a look if you are interested, and we'd especially like to hear from you if you think you can implement an open source secure online voting system we can use to allow members to vote on our policy formation. We plan on setting up such a system in an open framework so all democratic people may benefit from it in the future. If done correctly it could form the basis of 21st century representative politics - something that has been lacking for a long time now.

  • by lambadomy ( 160559 ) <lambadomy AT diediedie DOT com> on Monday February 09, 2004 @12:51PM (#8226616)
    This guy is about as disconnected from reality as the "Dean is the frontrunner" belief turned out to be. How did the media networks defeat Dean, when *everything* up to Iowa was Dean Dean Dean Dean Dean. I never heard jack squat about any other candidate, ever. Unless Howard Dean tried to run television campaigns in Iowa and New Hampshire and was *refused*, then I don't see what their deal is.

    Arguing that he was picked on by CNN and others after his Iowa concession speech may be correct, but that doesn't change the fact that he gave them the target to aim at, and it was HUGE. That was not "just being a normal person". The thing that lost Dean this election was Dean himself.

    Howard Dean spent more money and had more visibility than any other candidate until kerry started winning. I have a pre-caucus Economist showing Dean and Bush as the candidates; To many, it seemed all but decided. There was always some doubt; every conversation I had about Dean moving towards the elections was "Sure he's winning, but could he beat Bush in a million years?". The answer, sadly, was no, and people realized this. Sure he opposed the Iraq war, and with today's data he can look back and be proud. But had the president/CIA/whoever not been lying/stretching the truth, who knows how acceptable that stance would be now.
  • In any case, the question of productization in politics is a very real one, and should be discussed.

    I disagree. However, I do think that people who use nonsense words like 'productization' should be bludgeonized.

    I smell a Political Science major!
  • One innovative use of the internet this time around is Wesley Clark's TechCorps. I don't see a lot mentioned about it, but it seems he's got a pretty good thing going on. It's not a new concept to those on /. to get together and write open source software, but I think it may be new in politics to get together and do this to benefit a candidate, especially when the project coordination is all done via the internet at []

    And no, I'm not trying to push Clark. I'm not even a support
  • for me this is the first *real* use of the Internet in a meaningful way

    For me the whole "Dean as Internet candidate" thing pretty much confirmed what I already knew about the people using the Internet.

    Most of us are fervent ideologues who will write pages and pages and pages of blogs for/against our cause de cour, will clog the bandwidth with our incessant ranting on subject after subject in forums and chatrooms, and will violently flame anyone who DOESN'T find such behavior appealing as a pathetic ignor
  • by mbstone ( 457308 ) on Monday February 09, 2004 @11:47PM (#8234062)
    Dean's campaign vanished from the face of the earth after he fired the Trippi dude and hired an Al Gore lobbyist-stooge. And Trippi had spent all the money on Iowa and New Hampshire. But before that.....

    1) He didn't control his volunteers. You don't let kids with pierced tongues try and persuade Iowa farmers to spend all day at your caucus. You don't let your gay volunteers kiss you with camerapeople present - however you might feel about it, gay rights is a loser issue except in a very few Zip codes. Did Karl Rove pay the guy to smooch him?

    2) He didn't understand television. TV is a cool medium. When you are on TV you are a guest in people's living rooms. Dean vomited on the rug.

    3) He didn't do damage control. After the New Hampshire speech, he should have gone on TV to apologize and show how levelheaded and non-angry he could be. Instead, nobody ever saw him on TV after that.

MESSAGE ACKNOWLEDGED -- The Pershing II missiles have been launched.