Congressional blogs get a vote of disapproval

ON BLOGS

On blogs

February 05, 2006|By TROY MCCULLOUGH

An open letter to Congress.

Dear esteemed senators and representatives:

It's heartening, if not entirely expected, to see a number of you embracing blogs as a means to reach out to your constituents. At least 10 of you are blogging, and surely many more of you are thinking of starting.

But I feel it's my duty as a humble blog analyzer as well as a proud and patriotic American to offer you a bit of constructive criticism.

In short: Your blogs stink.

I understand that political sensitivities require a certain amount of restraint in all of your actions. But many of your sites are poorly conceived, inconsistently updated and dreadfully boring.

What were you thinking?

The best blogs are spontaneous, impassioned and humorous. Yours read like overly rehearsed political speeches. They feel awkward, their passion is forced and, perhaps worst of all, they're predictable.

Rep. Louise M. Slaughter (vote louise.com/blog), of course you want to "set the record straight on Congressional Republicans." That's what good New York Democrats do.

And Rep. Michael K. Conaway, (conawayblog.com), of course you support the president's use of the "Terrorist Surveillance Program." That's what good Texas Republicans do.

We citizens know these things already. Why are you boring us with the details on your blogs? Save it for your press releases.

And shame on you, Sen. Barack Obama (obama.senate.gov/blog), for relying on underlings to provide your blog's content. When an entry begins: "Senator Obama recently introduced legislation ... " I'm pretty sure those words didn't come from your mouth. As one of the few senators remotely near normal blogging age, you should know better.

Rep. Frank Pallone Jr. (house.gov/pallone/blog), there are three rules to successful blogging: update, update, update. We haven't heard from you since June 9. If the president has time to clear brush from his ranch in Crawford, then you have time to update your site.

Rep. Tom Tancredo (tancredo. house.gov/press/press_blog.shtml), where do I begin? Your site lay dormant for more than three months, and then you popped up last week with this entry: "Pythagorean theorem: 24 words, The Lord's Prayer: 66 words, Archimedes' Principle: 67 words, The 10 Commandments: 179 words, The Gettysburg Address: 286 words, The Declaration of Independence: 1,300 words, U.S. Government regulations on the sale of cabbage: 26,911 words."

It's an interesting post. And according to Internet myth buster Snopes.com, it's also not true (snopes.com/language/document/govmemo.htm). The bogus memo, in one form or another, has been fooling people since the 1950s. But I'll at least give you credit for trying something different.

Five of you - Mark Steven Kirk (house.gov/kirk/blog), House Speaker Dennis Hastert (speaker.house. gov/journal/index.shtml, Rep. John Linder (linder.house.gov/index. cfm?fuseaction=Blogs.Home), Obama and Pallone - do not let the public post comments on your blog entries. Surely you don't fear a little criticism!

Finally, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (giveemhellharry.com/blog), you are actually doing pretty well: consistent updates, spirited public comments and profanity in your blog's title (Give 'Em Hell Harry). Not bad. Your blog has my vote.

As for the rest of you, some congressional reform is in order.

troy.mccullough@baltsun.com

Listen to Troy McCullough's podcasts at baltimoresun.com/onblogs.

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