The blogging caucus controversyThe proposal from House Republican Leader Jason Mumpower for a "Bloggers' Day On the Hill" has created no small controversy among some on the Left that they may not be invited to this Republican Caucus event and some on the Right who say they won't attend because Bloggers' Day shouldn't be partisan.
As a matter of principle, I think there should be a day for bloggers in Nashville where everyone is welcomed, regardless of your political persuasion. If I were running things, this is what I would do. Caucuses ought to be free to have activities for bloggers as well, however. Let's face it, political bloggers tend to have a slant-We are liberals or conservatives, and tend to favor one party or the other. It is perfectly fine for the Republican Caucus to have a Bloggers' Day of their own considering that reality of the blogosphere.
What is not fine, however, is for the Democrats not to follow suit and have Bloggers' Day on their side. If they were intelligent about it, they would even want to do this on the same day(s) that the Republicans have their special recognition for bloggers. Pay close attention, liberals. Do you really think that Democratic House Speaker Jimmy Naifeh will consent to Bloggers' Day? I am not holding my breath, since the Tennessee House Democratic Caucus has not historically gravitated toward real openness. Sure, Naifeh put the General Assembly on the web, but he was reacting to a trend and the beginnings of a public outcry. It took the GOP getting a majority in the Senate before we started to see greater moves toward real open government and a reform of the General Assembly website to make it easier to look up (and for bloggers to report on) legislation.
As for how Bloggers' Day has been handled by the GOP leadership-I chalk this up, quite frankly, to House Republican Leader Jason Mumpower's inexperience with the blogosphere. As bloggers, we know that even though we may disagree with one another vehemently about issues, we tend to stick together when it comes to our free speech and free press rights, and my experience has been that we tend to stand up for one another and even befriend those on the other side. Those without experience in the world of what we do are not aware that inviting one side and not the other might raise serious eyebrows-dealing with the blogosphere is not the same as dealing with the traditional media. Perhaps Mumpower has this left to learn-but I am more than willing to give him credit for trying.
After our interview in January he asked me for a good list of conservative blogs, and I happily obliged him. If he isn't reading, I would bet his staff probably is. I think he wants to use the blogosphere as a means to energize the grassroots, but he is likely unsure as to the best way to do this. The Democrats should want the same thing, but I wouldn't expect it were I a Democrat or liberal blogger.