Friday, February 23, 2007

The blogging caucus controversy

The 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.

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At Friday, February 23, 2007 2:04:00 PM, Blogger Adam said...

What about me - I have a non-partisan blog. I presume I wasn't invited.

At Friday, February 23, 2007 2:14:00 PM, Blogger Dave Oatney said...

Adam (Groves?);
I don't think anyone has officially been invited yet-as far as I know there has not been a date officially set.

Yours was one of the blogs I recommended to Mumpower-If I had my way, you'd get an invite. If you don't, please e-mail me and I will try and see that this happens.

At Friday, February 23, 2007 3:57:00 PM, Blogger Sean Braisted said...


I've been contacted by a staffer in the Democratic leadership about setting something like this up. I just haven't posted on it because A) I would want to work out all the details before discussing; B) I don't know if I like the idea of having a "liberals" only bloggerfest in the state capitol, when we are talking about elected officials on the clock; and C) I'm not sure what a blogger day would intail, or what the purpose of it would be. If it's to get pictures taken and to take a tour of the capitol...not really my thing.

So right now it's not a matter of the Democratic Leadership being open to it; its a matter of working out the details and seeing how (if at all) to proceed.

At Friday, February 23, 2007 5:01:00 PM, Blogger Dave Oatney said...

What leadership has contacted you? Is Naifeh up for this? If he really is, he's Speaker of the House...if there were to be Bloggers' Day where we go up to the capitol and get interviews and attend session, etc., the Speaker could lead the way in insuring that bloggers from all sides are a part of a Blog Day.

I am not holding my breath for that to happen, but if it does happen, I welcome and embrace that.

At Saturday, February 24, 2007 1:46:00 AM, Anonymous john h said...

From a slightly more left position than you, David, I wouldn't want to be part of any blogger's day at the legislature where people such as yourself weren't invited.

If the GOP or the Dems want to have a private confab, good for them, but a bloggers day at the legislature should be just that..the only qualification might be that the blogger at least occasionally blogs about state politics or at least politics.

The small blogger luncheons I have attended pulled together by Hobbs and S. Cobb, or by S. Braisted have been careful to include bloggers from both the left and right. I think that is a good model, altho I think it would be fairer still if libertarians were also invited.

Just my two cents..


At Saturday, February 24, 2007 10:33:00 AM, Blogger TheRep said...

I say bring them all. We should have nothing to hide from either side. On some issues left and right agree I think the left will be let down at the inaction of their heros on some big issues that they think are important.

At Saturday, February 24, 2007 11:54:00 AM, Blogger Dave Oatney said...

John, Stacey;
I agree with both of you. At this point I do not know what is going to come of blog day-I haven't heard anything from Leader Mumpower's office since all of this began to erupt.

I will say that I have been under the impression from the beginning that I would be invited-so would Hobbs, Frank, Huddleston, et. al., the major True Blue conservative crew. I do think, however, that this is a great opportunity for House Republicans to show just how much more open they are than the Democratic Leadership.

With that in mind, however, who says we can't schedule blog day anyway...we are supposed to have open government in this State.

At Saturday, February 24, 2007 12:07:00 PM, Anonymous john h said...

I'm still trying to figure out which one of the Dem's in the House and Senate are my heroes, lol.

David - I certainly have no beef if Rep. Mumpower wants a confab of conservative bloggers for his or the party's own purpose.

I do think 'one' gets a better story if people from all sides get to ask questions of their own and follow-up questions based on others. I realize you are already agreeing here, but because you are an influential conservative blogger, I wanted to chime in again.

thanks for listening.

At Wednesday, February 28, 2007 9:19:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

From what I have heard leadership is trying to start small with a handful of reputable sane bloggers first then they can expand the reach slowly.

At Thursday, March 01, 2007 6:37:00 PM, Blogger Dave Oatney said...

Reputable I can see, and as I said, I don't even have a problem necessarily with a partisan limitation...but "sanity" in a political sense is a matter of strong (and sometimes biased) opinion, I will say that.


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