Denver Convention and New Media Posted by: MichaelW
on Monday, August 25, 2008
Because the blogosphere and all its scions have much more prominence, and arguably more influence, with respect to this year's election, I've been lazily paying more attention to how new media is tackling the subject at hand. I think the following presentation is a prime example of what new media can offer, and foreshadows the power of the medium to come:
Disregarding the substance of the video for now, I have to say that the exchange between these three women is extraordinary. Not only is their banter free-flowing and natural, it's exactly the sort of conversation that I would expect of reasonably well informed patrons of a local bar. Again, it's not the substance of the arguments presented, but the way in which they're presented.
Personally, I tend to think of the interchange of ideas on any blog (particularly in the comments section) as a virtual reality version of barroom conversation. With my buddies, it's referred to as "defending the ridge" where "the ridge" is that omnipresent elbow on the bar where three, four or even more people can hang on to this strategically important territory by maintaining an engaging, yet suitably sociable conversation. Being in the DC area, it's inevitable that such discourse will turn to politics. So, the more natural and inviting the banter is, the easier it is to "defend the ridge."
One can always just park themselves at the elbow, but sooner or later breaches in the defense appear only to be exploited, typically by buxom, yet willowy, young women brandishing credit cards of dubious provenance (i.e. suspect boyfriends) and flirtatious camaraderie with the bartenders. Such is life.
The point is, when the conversation is heady yet light-hearted enough, the ridge is better defended and the night progresses in a much more enjoyable fashion than otherwise.
The clip above reminds me exactly of those exchanges. The three women are obviously comfortable with one another, and the camera, which lends them a professional air. But they speak with a clarity that's natural to "the ridge" in any bar, where opinions fly fast and loose, and a premium is placed on brevity and wit.
If more political coverage was of the same caliber, I think the electorate would be more engaged. As it stands now, the MSM and its affiliate cable progeny, basically offer the same PhD and old-hat, insider baseball as the be-all-end-all of political analysis. Don't get me wrong. I love hearing from the likes of Larry Sabato, Michael Barone and Frank Luntz, and I think they have a lot to add to the conversation. But let's be honest. The people who read QandO and other political blogs are already in the realm of "political junky." You all know exactly who each of these people are. The vast majority of the electorate doesn't, nor do they much care. But I'd bet they'd watch the video clip above.
The fact is anybody can be drawn into a political conversation when it's conducted on terms that the average person can relate to. While I may find Larry Sabato's election prognostications fascinating, sometimes I don't want to ruminate on the exact scientific designation of the tree's sap, nor upon what the American Indians used to do with it. Sometimes, all I want to talk about is the health and wealth of the forest. The clip above offers that kind of analysis. My personal opinion is that more of the same would be a boon to the voting populace. And down that road is a better informed electorate.
So hats off to you, Ana Marie Cox, Glynnis MacNicol, and Rachel Sklar. Well done and I look forward to more.
One phrase struck me: that Bill Clinton was taking his legacy very seriously. Is he? Or is he just getting a free pass from the professional media? The world may never know. It’s one of those if a tree falls in the forest sorts of questions.
Besides the time to take his legacy seriously was when he was actually serving. I suspect that in 100 years when the partisan blinders have been removed from the discussion that history won’t be particularly kind to Mr. Clinton.