08 September 2009

Focus of Attention 101

The Economist blog Democracy in America has a thought provoking critique of how "liberals are hurting Barack Obama" that has considerable relevant for blogging in the area of climate change, and especially the loudest voices in the debate. Here is an excerpt:

The basic problem for liberals is time. There are only so many hours of news to fill; every minute spent talking about a conservative outrage is a minute not spent talking about, say, whether unions would walk away from the table if the White House didn't include a public option in the health-care bill. The latter story is about Democratic power; the former is about Democratic weakness. How low must the self-confidence of the majority party be if it can't take some ribbing from powerless conservatives?

The second problem is tone. Like it or not, liberalism is the ideology of the big cities. When liberal interest-groups mock conservatives, they often sound like Noel Coward characters making fun of the rubes.

The final problem is, ironically, the market. Wonkish writing about the Democratic agenda does not sell. Mockery does. (That silly Dick Cheney story at the Huffington Post is on its way to 2000 comments from readers.) There's an impetus for members of the new liberal media to be the first with a particularly juicy right-wing attack. And that's ironic, because the internet has provided them with unlimited space to cover whatever they want. There's not really any need to package the most salacious story for the front page. Those stories simply provide a more immediate reward—links, traffic, possibly an obscure Republican backing down—and the effect of crowding out the liberal agenda is too delayed to notice.

Some good advice implicit in these comments.