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Plogging away

Plus, Romney’s small-town clips
By JOHN CARROLL  |  August 23, 2006

LIKE A HOSTAGE STATEMENT: Deval Patrick’s plog, The Source.
When asked about the Internet, most political candidates will dutifully tell you that it’s the wave of the future, or the wave of the present, or the greatest thing since chocolate-chip bagels, or … zzzzzz … wake me when baseball’s post-season starts.

In reality, most candidates make the least of the Internet, turning their Web sites into electronic corkboards with Mpegs for pushpins. And that’s especially true of what they laughingly call their blogs, which are actually more like plogs — a cross between blogs and plugs.

And even those are scarce. Take Democratic gubernatorial candidate Deval Patrick’s plog, The Source, which is labeled “the official (v)ideo (a)udio (b)log for the Deval Patrick Campaign.” (W)hat’s (t)hat (m)ean?

Blogs are supposed to have a Dear Diary feel to them, but The Source instead serves up such blandishments as: “Hi, it’s Deval, I finished taping, just this morning, my very first debate, and I have to say it was a good experience. I really enjoyed the opportunity to talk about some of my vision for Massachusetts.”

Geez, reads like a hostage statement.

True, last week amid much hoopla Patrick launched a video Web site,, but when I checked it several days ago, it was a Potemkin Web site — nothing but links to his homepage and volunteer/contribution pages. That’s the Web equivalent of dead air.

Then there’s attorney general and Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Tom Reilly. His blog, From The Trail, has more plugs than Joe Biden’s head. It’s all about Reilly’s “On Your Street, On Your Side” field trips, from Taunton and Tewksbury to Chicopee and Holyoke. The result is a series of cyber-press-releases, with the very-occasional comment attached.

Sample comment from an “On Your Street in Everett” event: “The people of Everett supported Tom in the hometown fashion the [sic] we are known for. A great crowd for a great man.”


Look: a blog is supposed to be personal, especially when it comes to whacking around your ideological or electoral opponents. Only John Bonifaz, running against Secretary of the Commonwealth William Galvin in the Democratic primary, comes close to the real thing. According to campaign manager Juan Martinez, Bonifaz has “the only statewide campaign with a full-time blogger.”

And it shows. Bonifaz’s campaign blog has all the proper accoutrements of the medium, including links to relevant Web material, rampant chest-thumping, and pointed critiques of his opponent. That’s what we’re talking about.

Mitt's road show
Is it just me, or does Massachusetts (nickname: The Cold Shoulder State) tend to undervalue its native politicians when they move up to the national stage? That certainly seemed to be the case in 2004 with John “See You in Six Years” Kerry, whose intermittent attentions to his constituents did not go unnoticed back home. And the same looks to be true of Governor Mitt “Hey, You Got Two Good Years Out of Me” Romney, whose act plays a lot better on the road than on Beacon Hill.

Exhibit A: The following press clips, all from one recent day’s media coverage.

• Start with the Weekly Standard, which reported, “After years of hammering away at Big Dig ineptitude, Republican governor Mitt Romney now seems imbued with a bit of Churchillian prescience.” The piece talked up Romney’s Big Dig press conferences and his “describing in detail the issues at hand, showcasing an almost bizarrely detailed understanding of engineering minutiae, and even drawing diagrams on the fly.”

Oooh, graphics.

• The Real Clear Politics Web site ran an item (tip o’ the hat to WBZ’s indefatigable Jon Keller) headlined ROMNEY ON THE RISE, which said the Bay State governor is “fast emerging as the alternative to the two moderate heavyweights [John] McCain and [Rudy] Giuliani.”

Too bad about that Mormon thing, though. According to Real Clear Politics, “If the Mormon issue wasn’t floating around in the background, he would almost certainly be the clear front-runner for the nomination.”

• Clear front-runner for most-ridiculous newspaper lead of the year: The Mississippi Press report on Romney’s visit to the Low Achiever State. The story began, “Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney declined to use his position as guest speaker at the annual Jackson County Republican Women’s Founders’ day event in Pascalouga Thursday to announce his intention to run for president.”

Right. Pascalouga, cradle of presidential campaigns. At the same event, Romney was introduced by Senator Trent Lott (R-Strom Thurmond) thusly: “And he’s so friendly, he could be from Mississippi. The governor of Massachusetts? Well, yes and a great one.” Then again, we know how Trent gets carried away with his introductions.

• Clear front-runner for maybe-not-so-ridiculous lead of the week: the conservative Human Events Web site, which declared, “Make no mistake about it. Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney is quickly becoming the GOP ‘establishment’ candidate for president in 2008.”

And we all know what that did for George W. Bush eight years ago.

John Carroll is a mass-communication professor at Boston University and a correspondent for WGBH-TV’s “Beat the Press” edition of Greater Boston. He can be reached at

On the Web
Deval Patrick's "The Source": //
Tom Reilly: //
John Bonifaz: //

Related: Enter the wonk, Hard sell, The Dems are coming, More more >
  Topics: News Features , Deval Patrick, Deval Patrick, Mitt Romney,  More more >
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Plogging away
You're dead-on about Bonifaz and technology. The guy understands the role of the Internet -- and more importantly -- the Constitution. He just oozes integrity, too! Try not to be too hard on Deval Patrick though. His vision is a good one, imho, of empowering people to take a stake in their own lives. Check out his speech given at the Mass. Dem Convention <//>. Click "Speeches". He talks about cynicism being like a drug that pulls us all down... very powerfull stuff. I like him better than Gabrielli. Man, that guy pisses me off. Who does he think he is? He mocked us all by opting out of Mass. public campaign financing which sets limits for all, but requires all candidates to particpate. If one is out, then there are no limits. Gabrielli flippantly picked "15.3" (million) as his self-imposed spending limit to match his 15.3 percent of delegate votes, which got him on the primary ballot -- a dollar figure no other candidate can match. His action also meant that the other mass candidates could not get public funds -- including Bonifaz. Our system sucks! Millionaires always buy their way into power! Down with Gabrielli!
By railer on 08/25/2006 at 12:53:11

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