NY Times: Maureen Dowd on the Political Blogs

NY Times: Maureen Dowd on the Political Blogs

NY Times Op-Ed essayist.  Great sense of humor.  She's a regular on the Sunday News of The Week in Review Op-Ed page.Regular readers of the NY Times Op-Ed page will be familiar with columnist Maureen Dowd. She had a savage wit, a mighty pen (keyboard?) and takes on all comers. Dowd was not scared to use the term Imperialism when discussing Bushís war on Iraq, nor was she reluctant to call things as they seemed to her with regard to Enron, or to call into question just what was Dick Cheney really doing, back when he was sequestered in deep cover for the good of the country.

In todayís essay, ìBlah Blah Blogî she opines that the recent wave of political bloggery may signal the end of the net as we know it. From the article:

Is the Internet over?

There are troubling signs. AOL Time Warner, a company that started out scorning its Old Media side, is now looking to jettison the letters AOL. Fast Company, a hot magazine that celebrated the successes of dot-com innovators, is now relegated to eulogizing them.

Don't get me started on the Blaster virus sabotaging Microsoft systems, or the cram of spam reminding us that the average American is an impotent, insecure, overweight, tired, depressed loser desperately seeking to refinance.

The most telling sign that the Internet is no longer the cool American frontier? Blogs, which sprang up to sass the establishment, have been overrun by the establishment.

The essay then goes on to the true content and topic, the blogs of the Democratic Presidential hopefuls, plus a zinger or two about Gary Hartís blog. He, of course, an announced non-hopeful, er, candidate.

In the style that was part and parcel of her winning a Pulitzer, Dowd wags her finger at the Dems, poking fun at the blogs and the difference in manner and style thereof. While some are arguing that Howard Dean has all but turned around the election process through his savvy use of the net, most notably via his blog, Dowd calls it as she sees it:

In a lame attempt to be hip, pols are posting soggy, foggy, bloggy musings on the Internet. Inspired by Howard Dean's success in fund-raising and mobilizing on the Web, candidates are crowding into the blogosphere ó spewing out canned meanderings in a genre invented by unstructured exhibitionists.

She goes on to note that Dr. Dean (Howard, the candidate, not Edell, the syndicated call-in radio physician) is not the author of his blog, and makes it clear just how the Vermont govís blog works:

Dr. Dean doesn't deign to write his blog, either, but at least it's fun. Mathew Gross, the Dean campaign's "head blogger" or "blogmaster" ó who got his job by blogging and who now writes most of the Dean virtual entries ó calls blogs the new town hall meetings. "They've revolutionized the way campaigns are run," he says. "It creates an equality among everybody. People are hungry for the old-fashioned discussion and debate."

Dowd is an excellent writer, sheís a welcome addition to the Times Op-Ed page. Her wit is top notch, and most often she is the voice of reason and plain-talk on the Op-Ed side.

In this article, as amusing as it is ñalthough framed around the supposed ìend of the net as we know itî ñshe misses the boat on a few points.

There is no mention of the burgeoning web and blog activity to draft Wesley Clark. More sites (and blogs) are popping up by the day, with organized groups or individuals seeking to widen the reach and voice of the Draft Clark movement.

She completely omits the various blogs by candidates and onlookers in the California Governor recall/race circus (although she did have an entertaining article on Ahhnold the other day).

Doc Searls made mention of some of the Recall blogs the other day. They make for some better ñand more entertainingóreading than most of the Demís blogs..

Yes, as Dowd says in the essay, Time-Warner seeks to lose the AOL name, to drop it from its public moniker. That seems more of a statement of strength through brand familiarity and corporate disgust than anything else. And it is true that Fast Company is not the sizzling read about the bubble economy anymore. Well, yeah! The bubble popped.

Of course, it being the Times, she makes no mention of Fucked Company, the take-off (or is it a pseudo alter-ego?) site to Fast Company that covers the obituaries and downfalls of those which expired when the bubble popped. It also covers the goings-on at companies in free-fall or going through various aspects of downsizing and ìmaking things look good to Wall Streetî while chipping away at the viability of any long-lasting policies or initiatives.

So enjoy the Dowd essay, but donít take it to o very seriously. And, of course, read it fast, before the Times decides to charge readers the ìfishwrap feeî for that which was published a little while (or more) ago. The Times, Dowd/Safire, et al notwithstanding, just doesnít have a clue when it comes to availability. The Times alienates web users, as opposed to attracting and accommodating them.

The Times seems to perceive the on-line edition and the users thereof as a source of some petty revenue. Charging a fee for an old article ñone which any library user can access for free!!ójust shows how shallow the Times marketers and webthinkers must be.