|Page 2 of 2 <|
Politicians Deal With Newcomer, The Blog
On one hand, political analysts say, anonymous blogs draw people into the political process. But they can be influenced by savvy politicians.
"It's gossip central, and beyond that it's an opportunity for campaign operatives to manipulate yet another piece of the system," said the real Larry Sabato. "The positive side is that more people may be engaged and interested. The downside is that more of what they know may be inaccurate."
Noting that he is not part of the Not Larry Sabato group, Sabato said he laughed when he heard that he had inspired the name of a blog and even logged on to post a guest column. "It's far better they should be doing this than watching the wasteland of prime-time TV or doing something else that has no civic value," he said.
The blogs are too new to have a major impact on the Nov. 8 election, Sabato and some politicians agreed. Most draw only a few thousand readers a day. But in a primary, where voter turnout is low and "political junkies" who frequent such Web sites are more likely to vote, the blogs might have a real effect, they said.
Del. Brian J. Moran (D-Alexandria), for one, said he is not a fan of anonymous blogs. He has been the target of a new blogger who adopted the name "Not Brian Moran."
"Anyone who does it anonymously is being cowardly, in my opinion," he said. Blogs, he added, "don't seem to be used constructively at this point. It just seems to be wild potshots at people."
Chad Dotson, 31, a commonwealth's attorney from Wise County, is trying to change that. He started his blog, "Commonwealth Conservative," under the pseudonym John Behan last year. Now Dotson is more open about his identity.
Dotson said he wants his site, vaconservative.com, to be less about political sniping than about open and honest discussions on state policy or even personal matters. He said he frequently gets e-mails from candidates and other politicians. One delegate even e-mailed him from the floor of the General Assembly.
But he also acknowledged that it can be hard to resist posting rumors.
"We are a tiny readership. But I think there's a lot of room for growth," Dotson said. "Too often, a political blogger gets involved in political bickering. But we're discussing means of doing something that's more conducive to discussion -- and we're hoping to influence Virginia bloggers to go in that direction."