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    Success of ‘going negative’ changes campaign strategies
    Milblogs: Yesterday and Today
    January 28th, 2008 under Blog Program, Military Programs, New Media. [ Comments: 13 ]

    The Dole Institute of Politics hosted a panel on “Military Blogging and America’s Wars.”
    The guests included John Donovan, one of America’s leading milbloggers (who was invited to meet President Bush in the White House); Ward Carroll, a retired Navy Commander who flew F-14s and editor of http://www.military.com/; and Charles J. “Jack” Holt, chief of New Media Operations for the Department of Defense. David D. Perlmutter, a professor in the KU School of Journalism & Mass Communications, and author of VISIONS OF WAR and BLOGWARS.
    The Greek philosopher Heraclitus is supposed to have said that “war is the father of all things.” It is absolutely true that where we live, the language we speak, the flags we fly, the beliefs we hold, the land we live on, and even our genetic heritage have been affected by who won and lost wars. Likewise, much of our technology was created for or improved toward making war. As I talk about in my newest book, BLOGWARS: THE NEW POLITICAL BATTLEGROUND, (Oxford University Press, 2008), the commercial and public Internet is a case in point: It began in the 1960s as ARPANET, a project of the American military to create a decentralized “command and control network” that would survive nuclear war. Now the Internet is a crucial “front” in the war on terrorism. And, of great interest to people concerned about the future of war, from historians to generals, the warriors themselves are embracing the social interactive media, like blogs, that the Internet has spawned.



    Read more »

    January 25th, 2008 under Blog Program, Military Programs, New Media. [ Comments: none ]

    By Holt, Charles, AFIS-HQ/IC  

    November 6, 2006 I was transferred to American Forces Information Service, Department of Defense Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs Internal Communication, New Media Directorate. My tasking was to figure out what was the New Media environment and how to engage. I studied U.S. Central Command’s Blogging Best Practices
    published by Joint Forces Command as the Blogging Handbook and initiated contact with some of the bloggers listed there-in. Initially the discussion centered on how to get bloggers credentialed with the various public affairs and press offices and how to get bloggers embedded with troops downrange.
    Some of the bloggers had limited success on their own, but it wasn’t until U.S. Army Maj. Gen. William Caldwell and U.S. Navy Rear Admiral Mark Fox decided to engage with bloggers did our discussions bear fruit. These initial engagements lead to the development of the Blogger’s Roundtable, the Blogger’s Roundtable website, and numerous bloggers embedded
    with U.S. troops in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

    February 2, 2007 the Department of Defense conducted the first Blogger’s Roundtable with U.S. Navy Rear Adm. Mark Fox from Baghdad, Iraq via telephone conference call. What began as a once a week conference call with bloggers whose interest is the U.S. military and DoD operations has grown into an average of once a day conference calls with a wider variety of subject matter experts but primarily still focusing on the Global War on Terror and SME’s and
    decision-makers in Iraq and Afghanistan.
    During this time I have studied the New Media terrain and followed what has been happening in traditional media in response and reaction to developments in technology. What follows are my observations on the changing mediascape.

    Read more »

    The Rise of Milblogging
    January 24th, 2008 under Blog Program, Guest Post, Military Programs. [ Comments: none ]

    The rise of milblogging has as much to do with the national dialectic as it does the technology that made it possible to be conducted via the Internet. Why have warfighters, veterans, military spouses, and others with military affinity been increasingly compelled to “enter the fray” via blogging as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have worn on? Well, because they could, for one thing. But beyond that they blogged because they had to.They had to because traditional media was getting it wrong more often than not. They had to because partisan bickering had nothing to do with the well-being of those in harm’s way (or mission success). They had to because the American public was by-in-large detached from the small segment of the population that was doing their bidding in hostile lands.

    And milbloggers were successful. Through their dogged, almost obdurate, presentation of first-person narratives they first got the attention of their own — which was no small feat in itself. Then they got the attention of the American public. Then they got the attention of traditional media, whose members treated milblogging as a curiosity or a lark until bloggers like Micheal Yon, Matt Burden, and Bill Roggio showed them they didn’t have a monopoly on capturing the stories of war. And once they got the attention of traditional media they got the attention of the Department of Defense and the Bush administration.Milbloggers were the first to suggest the Surge might work, that Dragonskin body armor wasn’t everything the manufacturer claimed it was, and that Scott Beauchamp was a liar. They have influenced the national sentiment for the better because they have possessed the truth as they knew it, which fortunately was the truth.

    This post is online at Wardcarroll.com

    First Impressions of meeting with the President.
    January 23rd, 2008 under Uncategorized, Blog Program. [ Comments: none ]

    This is a previous post by John Donovan Milblogger, thedonovan.com

     Milblog program at the Dole Institute on January 29, 2008.


    President George W. Bush meeting with military bloggers in the Roosevelt Room at the White House, Friday, Sept. 14, 2007. White House photo by Joyce N. Boghosian

    The sit down with President Bush was, I’ve got to note - fun.

    It was serious. He talked to us, and with us, not at us. And, unusual for the personality types that populate the blogging world - we listened. We got in our questions, and I think they were good ones, and the President made his points, which were a mixture of the thrust of his message this week and new (to me, anyway) stuff in response to our questions.

    Make no mistake - he knew we were going to generally be a receptive audience, and we were. The staff knew our blogs, and they knew that while some of us have not always been fans or happy with things as they are, they knew we were not going to storm the Bastille, either.

    I had a list of questions, most of which ended up being asked by others. So, as the other bloggers put up their posts, I’ll link to them, so you can both see what I was interested in, but let the relevant blogger run with the question and the answer. And I’ll put up a post about my question and his answer.

    The President acknowledged, so to speak, the rise of the blogosphere - which he seems to see as complementary to the MSM, a view to which I subscribe, as well. We’re another vector that people can use to disseminate or gather information - whether the MSM is gate-guarding it because of their biases, or simple economics. There are only so many air minutes, so many column inches, and the MSM is a business. They have to make editorial decisions.

    If anything, the blogs hearken back, really, to an earlier time in the growth of the Republic.

    We’re the “broadsides” of this era. As Larry Schwiekart and Michael Allen describe them in their book, A Patriot’s History of the United States (page 42):

    “…Americans’ literacy was widespread, but it was not deep or profound. Most folks read a little and not much more. In response, a new form of publishing arose to meet the demands of this vast, but minimally literate, populace: the newspaper. Early newspapers came in the form of broadsides, usually distributed and posted in the lobby of an inn or saloon where one of the more literate colonials would proceed to read a story aloud for the dining or drinking clientele. Others would chime in with editorial comments during the reading, making for a truly democratic and interactive forum.”

    That covers blogs pretty well, I think. Though there are some pretty deep and profound ones, and there are ones which are growing into news outlets that have many trappings of the MSM, as well. With their strengths and weaknesses.

    And today, the President just gave blogs some props.

    And while the venue may have held milblogs - it’s props for all bloggers who take their vocation or avocation seriously - and I think that’s true for blogs of the Left, Middle, and the Right, the Poliblogs and the Milblogs, and the harder-to-characterize blogs as well.

    And that’s a good thing - because I think that our greatest strength and contribution is: “Others would chime in with editorial comments during the reading, making for a truly democratic and interactive forum.”

    Sure, there’s trolls and scary places and people who don’t know argument from excrement - but if you have something to say, and create the environment, you can open a pub like Castle Argghhh! where others chime in, you can learn something, and even though you’re #1 in Google for “I bayoneted myself today” and you have an Outhouse Naming Contest, in America, you can still get invited to the White House to talk to the President.

    And that’s just cool.

    And Barney is one *fine* looking Scotty.

    And this is where I say that I wouldn’t have been sitting at that table today if it hadn’t been for Dusty, Bill, and the Denizen/nes of Argghhh! - because you guys make this worth doing for four years.

    Thank you all, very, very, much.

    There’s some other people I owe, as well, but I know they prefer to remain anonymous. Thank you, too. You know who you are.

    Energy Blog
    January 23rd, 2008 under Guest Post. [ Comments: none ]

                becka.JPG I’ve often heard it said that sending someone to Congress is kind of like sending your kids off to college: you hope you’ve made the right decision, you hope they don’t fall in with the wrong crowd, and you hope – most of all – to recognize them when they come back.  Kansas has been particularly lucky in this regard of late.  I’m sure we can all one issue or another on which to disagree with Pat Roberts and Sam Brownback, our U.S. Senators.  But on the big things, they usually come through for us, representing not one party but one state.  Politicians may get a bad rap some of the time, but it’s up to us to make note of moments when they do stand and deliver for us.

                Just such a moment arrived last month, and few took much notice.  Since Democrats were elected in the 2006 mid-term elections, speculation – and indeed, some boasting – was heard about Congress finally breaking a log-jam on President Bush’s six-year old call for a new, national energy policy.  Unfortunately, all year more logs just got jammed, as new Congressional leaders insisted on raising taxes on domestic energy companies as part of the comprehensive bill. 

                Many argued, including our two Senators, that taking money away from American gas and oil companies at the very moment we are relying on their research and development projects to finally help reduce our reliance on foreign energy was a bad idea.  They argued, too, that singling out domestic energy companies for the $15 billion tax would effectively act as a subsidy for the very foreign energy we’re trying to avoid.  Congress’s plan was to make our own energy companies less capable of fully funding their research and development budgets, while giving foreign competitors a price advantage in the marketplace.

                Good for Pat Roberts and Sam Brownback for standing up to this lunacy.  We can all agree – and Roberts and Brownback do – that we need to conserve more, and we need to find and experiment with new sources of energy, but we can also agree that sticking it to our own businesses out of spite isn’t the way to go about it.  After all, any taxes raised on energy companies would eventually be passed on to energy consumers – higher prices for gasoline and heating oil just in time for winter.

    Furthermore, tax hikes kill jobs, hurt communities, and choke off investment.  Our economy is not a position right now to afford any of the above, especially not in one of the most important industries in our economy.  There’s a right way to do things and a wrong way, and last month, thanks to Kansas’ two Senators, America took the right way.

    Beka Romm
    Former Chair
    KU College Republicans

    Hillary Clinton’s critical choice: Attacking Obama could push youth away from politics.
    January 15th, 2008 under News, Blogging & Politics. [ Comments: none ]

    By David D. Perlmutter

    Christian Science Monitor, January 15, 2008.

    Lawrence, Kan.

    Sen. Hillary Clinton will soon make a decision about the direction of her campaign in the South Carolina Democratic primary on Jan. 26. Her options are either to play nice and perhaps lose, or to go on the attack and win.

    In a tight race against Sen. Barack Obama, Senator Clinton may choose the latter. Her recent remarks about the words and actions of civil rights leaders such as Martin Luther King Jr. were probably a trial balloon to gauge the impact of going negative. But in so doing, she could alienate several major Democratic constituencies – African-Americans and youth – perhaps for a generation to come. There is no limit to the politics of destruction possible in South Carolina. George W. Bush set a precedent for that in 2000 by shredding John McCain, who had won New Hampshire.

    Until her poor performance in Iowa, Clinton had been banking on South Carolina votes. Bill Clinton had proven his “comeback kid” status in 1992 by winning South Carolina and other states, mostly due to African-American support. In 2006, Clinton allies pushed forward the South Carolina primary so it would come on the heels of the Iowa caucus and New Hampshire primary. They hoped that winning there would clinch the nomination after New Hampshire and Iowa victories.

    But now, Clinton’s African-American “constituency” in the South has someplace else to go: to a truly viable black candidate. Hence the strategy behind carefully crafted Bill and Hillary statements that 1) the campaign would not go negative in the Granite State and 2) the press was being too easy on Senator Obama. Notice was given, it seemed: If only slightly veiled critiques of the junior senator from Illinois don’t do the job, we will unleash old-fashioned attack ads.

    The problem is that the lessons of Clinton’s New Hampshire strategy are mixed. Besides the seminegativity, she also showed a very human face. Which tactic was more influential? Or was the combination of both the critical factor?

    If she went on the attack, Clinton would be breaking with Democratic presidential politics of the past – to treat African-American candidates gently and avoid alienating black voters. In 1988, when the Rev. Jesse Jackson debated Al Gore and Michael Dukakis, both white candidates saw no advantage in being negative toward him. Mr. Jackson was popular among a key constituency and had little chance to win anyway.

    Technology is another liability. In old-style negative campaigning you could localize your stabs by, for example, running attack ads in one district or sending out smearing mailers to certain groups. But with the advent of blogs and YouTube, all politics is global. Any anti-Obama ad will be seen by the whole country. What might work in rural South Carolina might be embarrassing when watched online in Santa Barbara, Calif.

    And, of course, when you sling mud there is a backlash. Clinton has worked hard to make herself appear genial yet serious in more recent speeches and in ads. An attack-dog stance will hardly raise her own approval rating for the general election.

    But do the Clintons and their allies have any choice? Each additional state that Obama can win will dampen questions about his own electability. Does Clinton want to fight him in every state or win the nomination early?

    While the Clinton campaign is concerned about the current election, bigger questions should be asked. In going negative with Obama, something else is at stake: the next generation of Democrats.

    Entrance polling, anecdotal evidence from voter interviews, and simple observation of rallies suggest that many Obama voters are truly excited about him. Of the record 239,000 Democratic voters in the Iowa caucus, 22 percent were under 30 years old – also a first. Even more remarkable, among this group, Obama won 57 percent of the vote; Edwards, 14 percent; and Clinton just 11 percent.

    The Clinton-Obama demographic divide is a generation gap we have not seen in Democratic Party presidential politics for, well, generations. Howard Dean, the “youth candidate” of 2004, scored just 25 percent of the under-30 vote in Iowa, while John Kerry got 35 percent.

    In short, Obama is a “first love” for many young, potential new Democrats, and they are the future of the party. What would happen if they walked away in disgust from their initial engagement with politics because things turned bitter and dirty?

    Right now there is a struggle in the Clinton campaign about what New Hampshire meant. Her choice, to go positive or negative, or both, may determine the fate of her campaign. But the fallout could also affect the makeup of the Democratic party for a generation to come.

    David D. Perlmutter is a professor at the School of Journalism & Mass Communications at the University of Kansas. He is author of “Blogwars: The New Political Battleground.”

    Observations From Iowa: 2 Days to Go Before the First Votes of 2008!
    January 2nd, 2008 under Uncategorized. [ Comments: none ]

    By Jonathan Earle
    Dole Institute Interim Director

    Some people go to Cancun during winter break, but I couldn’t resist a little political tourism in Iowa, four days in advance of the caucuses this Thursday, Jan. 3. My brother, ace political reporter for the New York Post, is pretty much embedded with the Clinton campaign, so I spent some time acting as his driver and sidekick. That’s why I spent so much time with the Clinton campaign.

    On the way back, I had to pull off the road during an unforecast blizzard – and who should greet me in the McDonald’s in Bethany, MO but Dole staffers Ryan Wing and Clarissa Unger, along with their colleague Jon Simon. All three were on the way to caucus for Obama in Ames, and they kindly shared their company and a nifty board game called Scotland Yard while we waited for the plows to catch up with the precipitation.

    Herewith are some of my observations from the Iowa trail. Enjoy!

    My day began at the mostly-black Corinthian Baptist Church in Des Moines, where I arrived late for the service, although not as late as Hillary, Chelsea, and former Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack. The Rev. Lee Zachary Maxey had to repeat the part of the service where parishioners meet and greet each other after the Clintons arrived, which gave more than a few worshipers a chance to get a snapshot and exchange some words with the Senator. She was invited to address the assembly, and she did – in a brief version of her stump speech. It was warmly received, and then…Clinton (and the press corps, which included national figures like the Today Show’s Meredith Vieira) left, before the sermon. My brother and I thought this might have been a faux pas, but it turns out Obama left after his remarks at the same church earlier in the month. Still, the deacon called her out a bit, remarking that “it was good to see all the dignitaries here…I wish they’d stayed a little longer.” It was great for this political tourist to be able to stick around and chat with some of the church members, many of whom told me they were first timers planning to caucus for Obama.

    Our next leg took us to the King’s Tower restaurant in Tama, which is unfortunately located on the Old Lincoln Highway, also known as Rt. 30. Clearly building I-80 (about 20 miles to the south) has put Tama’s best days squarely behind it. But the place had a good menu and copious portions. I left room for wild berry pie a-la-mode in nearby Toledo, where I talked to the waitresses about the now-famous incident this fall where Hillary Clinton supposedly stiffed a server at the Maid-Rite diner. The story made the rounds pretty quickly before being proven false (to Geoff Earle’s credit, his story from that day already had the correct information), but we got to the bottom of the scandal. Our 17-year-old server (who plans to caucus for Obama since she’ll be 18 before November ’08) told us a campaign staffer tipped with $100 bill to be divided among the staff – but one waitress bogarted the C-note and didn’t share. Ironically, the waitress who complained about Hillary’s non-tip no longer works there, while the tip-bogarter still does. When asked if she was fired or if she quite, our server said “a little of both.” So much for her 15 minutes of Warholian fame…Only other customers in the joint were two Obama canvassers from St. Louis University. They were sleeping on mattresses in a basement in Traer, our next stop…

    Hillary event #3 of the day, in the municipal building in adorable downtown Traer. The hall had the exact same finished wood beams as the Corinthians church did that morning. Again, Vilsack and Chelsea accompanied the Senator, with Vilsack introducing and Chelsea doing her usual Cheshire Cat impersonation. The crowed loved seeing her though. Hillary’s speech is quite able, and contains several memorable applause lines. She had pretty much emptied it of attacks, only obliquely mentioning the other Democratic candidates. The structure of the speech isn’t a speech in the oratorical sense: it’s a set of bullet points and riffs, and she hits the high notes right on queue. As has become her habit, she did not take questions from the clearly-adoring audience – even though she is quite good at that, too. I think this is a mistake. She is smart and strong on details, and has thought almost everything through. Taking questions and getting off the script could only help her candidacy, and her coverage.

    George Condon of Copley newspapers, who came to the Institute this fall to join Jerry Austin’s study group was there, seated between the Times’ Adam Nagorney and Primary Colors author (and Time columnist) Joe Klein. He even interviewed me for a story on people from states that can’t buy time with presidential candidates who travel to Iowa or New Hampshire as political tourists. I told him to spread the Dole Institute gospel with his neighbors on the press risers. Klein said he’d like to come.

    Next stop: a big Obama rally on the “south side” of Des Moines. Obama was introduced by North Dakota Senator Kent Conrad, who marks a stark contrast to the candidate. A 20-year veteran of the Senate and long-time chair of the budget committee, Conrad exudes the wonkishness and Washington experience that Obama’s critics claim he needs. It works: Obama’s a rhetorical racehorse to Conrad’s workhorse. The crowd of 1,000 + in the middle school gymnasium were “fired up” just like Obama said: and just as he promised he addressed the undecideds in the room. His arguments and rhetoric are more classical and logical than Senator Clinton’s: and he has recently added a nifty bit about Bill Clinton’s supposed lack of Washington experience in 1992 to ridicule the Clintons’ claims from 2007. He also gets a big laugh (something you didn’t see much at the Clinton events) about how inside-the-Beltway experts wanted to season, stew, and “boil the hope out of” Obama. He is a master of the peroration and turning what are, frankly, quite effective criticisms on their head. I saw both KC Star political reporter Steve Kraske and former Dole intern Rance Graham Bailey at the event, and both were wowed by the speech and the rally.

    9:30 p.m. on the Sunday before the caucus. Where can you eat in Des Moines? Since Adam Nagorney’s rave review of the restaurant scene, several of the nicer restaurants have really filled up with reporters and political tourists. Such is the case at 801 Grant, a fancy steak house that was busy hustling big hunks of meat to Klein and Terry McAuliffe, chief fundraiser for the Clintons. But the kitchen was closed! Famished, we went on to the old standby “Il Centro.” What a scene! KU and Dole Institute alum CJ Jackson was there. So was an entire table of LA politicos. My college classmate Eric Garcetti (president of the city council) was there, with his dad, former DA Gil Garcetti, both Obama supporters. Joining them was LA mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, in a very nice suit. The Washington Post table included 2006 post-election program veteran Dan Balz (who has written my favorite blog entries of the caucus season on The Trail — ) and Chris Cillizza, who writes the Post blog The Fix and accepted my invitation to come to the Institute this spring. Former study group speaker Walter Schapiro was there. Even minor-league celebrities like “Superman Returns” star and Iowa native Brandon Routh, who introduced Obama last night in Indianola.

    Also holding court was David Axelrod, Obama’s campaign manager, striking a Phil Jackson zen-like pose as he answered questions from me and everyone else. He feels good about the campaign, and said he’d like to visit the Institute when things shake out with the campaign. Should be great.

    A final thought or two. There is a definite echo chamber at work covering the candidates. Reporters are generally on buses together all day, and hear the same speeches over and over and over. There is very little news committed, day-to-day, on the Democratic side (the Republicans are locked in a much more negative, angry campaign at the moment – although that could change quickly). Then they all congregate in the same watering holes and restaurants at the end of every day, where they compare stories and eat expensed meals. (Full disclosure: I very much enjoyed my delicious pork chop, generously proffered by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp.) It would be very, very hard to buck the horse-race style coverage this type of newsgathering generates, even with some of the best minds in reporting. I hope when the winnowing of the fields occur after Thursday’s caucus and next Tuesday’s New Hampshire primary, some of these people turn back to deeply covering the issues and ideas these compelling candidates are tossing out.

    Iowans clearly take this process very seriously, and I was impressed with the future caucus-goers I met. But who wouldn’t take a decision this important seriously? Would Kansans or Nevadans blow it all off, watching televised bowling on TV and scarffing pork rinds, a la Homer Simpson? No way. Let’s figure out a way of choosing nominees that takes opinions of big and small states, red and blue states, white and diverse states, rural and urban states EQUALLY SERIOUSLY.

    Let the voting begin…


    The Dole Institute of Politics is a bipartisan facility. Our mission; to encourage political and civic involvement, especially among young people; to encourage civil discussion on important issues; to emphasize that politics is an honorable profession; and to provide opportunities for all to interact with political leaders, practitioners and writers.
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    A Summary of the 2006 Blogger-Reader Survey

    Fall 2006 Blogger/Reader Survey Details and Research Reports
    In December of 2006 Dr. Dhavan Shah of the University of Wisconsin and his “Blogclub” of graduate students and Dr. David D. Perlmutterof the University of Kansas conducted a survey of major political blogs and their readers. The project was partially sponsored by a grant from the Knight/Carnegie Foundation’s Future of Journalism initiative. The summary of the results are posted here--please fully cite us if you refer to the findings.

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