The Washington Times published an article on how McCain is allowing bloggers on his conference calls. And not just conservative ones, but non-political bloggers and even liberal bloggers.
This has caused a certain stir amongst liberal bloggers, because Obama doesn’t invite us to his calls, and never has. Clinton does, but she certainly doesn’t invite conservative bloggers.
So, let’s lay this out simply and get past the “participation” BS.
Progressive national bloggers as a group did not go pro-Obama until Edwards dropped out. Also, in most cases the readers were pro-Obama first, not the other way around. Obama reached our audience without going through us, and sees no reason to bother with outreach to us. Bloggers who now support Obama do so despite the fact that Obama can’t be bothered to do blogger outreach.
Obama only works with groups who can deliver votes he can’t easily get on his own. So SEIU has a voice. We do not because we did not deliver our readers, he got them on his own.
The two things we can do for Obama that matters are media pushback and atacking McCain. But we will do those things whether he’s nice to us or not, and he may not even appreciate us attacking McCain, since he very clearly wants top-down control over message with no freelancers.
There is zero ROI on spending any time on us, for Obama, at least in the short term. Therefore Obama doesn’t spend any time on us. He also, personally, finds us boring, and has said so.
This will come back to bite Obama if or when he’s president and the bloom is off, and he finds he has few real friends amongst bloggers and thus amongst those who have some influence with the base. But that’s a year and a half to two years down the road. I doubt he’s thinking it through that far, or he may think that his charisma and skill is such that he can keep his followers so happy that they will scream us under if we dare criticize him when he, say, leaves a huge residual force in Iraq (or whatever.) I doubt it, because most bloggers will really only turn on Obama when the base starts being disillusioned. But, as I say, that’s a long way out and is irrelevant to him right now.
As for McCain, his brand is “trust” and “transparency”, that he has nothing to hide, that he’s a man of honor and that he’ll tell you to your face if he doesn’t agree with you. Opening up calls, for him, is a no brainer. He has rarely tried to directly control the media, he has instead tried to make them like him, knowing that people don’t throw their hardest punches at people they like. By treating bloggers with respect, McCain hopes that they will treat him somewhat more gently than they would otherwise. He isn’t thinking “oh, Liberal bloggers will endorse me”, but he is thinking that if he treats bloggers well, they may occasionally hesitate before delivering a swift kick to the rhetorical nads and then hit somewhere slightly less painful.
Since bloggers, like the media, are human, I daresay McCain is right. People treat others the way they are treated””this is the basic rule of human reciprocity. Should it be this way? Of course not. But human nature is human nature, and McCain is working with it, not against it.