S.C. Statehouse Report
Sunday, July 23, 2006
VIEW: http://www.statehousereport.com/columns/06.0723.bloggers.htm


Political blogs have some sizzle and fizzle
By Andy Brack
Publisher
SC Statehouse Report

JULY 23, 2006 -- Three years ago as political blogs seemed to be picking up steam, there was a lot of talk they would change the political landscape by creating online communities of new political participants.

These easy-to-use online diaries feature opinions, links to news, gossip, rumor and innuendo. But while blogs changed the national landscape in 2004 by motivating voters and validating the presidential candidacy of Howard "Screaming" Dean, they haven't done much in South Carolina.

Yet.

Charleston's Phil Noble, a leading analyst of the Internet and politics, says blogs will become more important as they start to impart new ideas and galvanize new political communities. But for now, they've got a long way to go in South Carolina.

"They're about 75 percent vanity and 25 percent substance," he noted. "We're still talking about events and people. It's not about ideas yet."

South Carolina has about two dozen of these special Internet sites that look at what's happening and make comments about state politics. While they're often amusing, they seem to be a new kind of insider's game. People who like the rough-and-tumble of political banter are attracted to them, but they haven't been used much for politics by mainstream folks.

Laurin Manning, a USC law student from Hartsville who is seen as the diva of state political blogs, says she gets 1,000 or more folks daily who tune into her blog, LaurinLine (http://www.laurinline.com).

"It certainly keeps the conversation going," she observed.

While she agreed that Palmetto State blogs weren't having a big impact on the political process now, she said they served an important role in highlighting for journalists what interested political enthusiasts.

Brad Warthen, the editorial page editor of The State in Columbia, operates an opinion blog (http://blogs.thestate.com/bradwarthensblog/) that augments his newspaper work.

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"I don't think they're having a very broad impact, in terms of influencing the electorate in general or anything like that," he said in an e-mail. "This is an experiment for me, and I'm throwing a lot of energy into it -- on top of a hectic job. I think in the long run this will be worthwhile, but the potential has not been achieved."

Sunny Philips, a GOP fund-raising consultant in Columbia, operates The Crunchy Republican (http://www.crunchygop.com), another popular South Carolina blog.

She says the conversations that spring up when people comment on things she posts on her blog are similar to what you hear at Republican meetings in the state. The difference - - the blog allows people all over the state to join the conversation.

"It's a way to facilitate some types of discussions," she said.

If you want to check out more South Carolina political blogs, here is a list of some of the better ones:

Because bloggers tend to provide lists of links to other blogs, you likely will find something you like by spending some time surfing on the Web through the links above.

Andy Brack's new book of commentary, Bugging the Palmettos, is available for $15.00. Click here for more.

Recent commentary

lighter side
7/23: What really happens at the polls

Another great cartoon from Bill McLemore:

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feedback
7/16: Public financing of campaigns needed

To the editor:

Your comment stating that should Moore have a more money infusion into his election campaign (Commentary, 7/16) only tends to endorse the remark about American Politics and its politician leadership - - "OUR DEMOCRACY FUNCTIONS BY USING THE GOLDEN RULE - - THOSE WITH THE GOLD RULE."

That's too bad. We used to have a Democracy controlled by the people for the people and of the people. We desperately need a revamped Campaign Finance Reform bill that gets Private contributions completely out of the loop and gets Public Funding completely into the loop...Using England as a mold would not be a bad idea of starters. The organization 'Common Cause' seems to have the right idea and a review of their web page may be beneficial to all.

-- Bob Logan, Little River, SC

Recent feedback

scorecard

Here's a "thumbs up" and "thumbs down" related to various political news items from the past week:

Stem cells: Anne Magnum doesn't believe that a friend of her late brother, former Gov. Carroll Campbell, understands about the need for stem-cell research, she told television station WYFF in Greenville. "For President Bush, you can't say he hasn't been touched by it," she said after watching Bush veto stem-cell research legislation. Both Campbell and former President Ronald Reagan died of Alzheimer's disease, for which stem-cell research possibly carries a cure.
Gangs: USC assistant professor Jeff Rojeck isn't one of the state's closed-mouth intellectuals. He says that a shooting death at a Lexington County flea market last weekend is an example of gang activity in our state. Rojeck is a former Los Angeles police officer who specialized in gangs. Whether tied to national gangs like Bloods and Crips, or merely mimic their named, Rojeck warns gang activity is operating in the state.
New prof: Jay Bender, the chief counsel for the S.C. Press Association and the state's most quoted attorney on the open meetings law, is moving from his law firm to teach at the USC colleges of law and journalism. Bender is a 26-year veteran of journalism law, often representing or advising the media on questions of law. The Journalism School will be greatly enhanced.
Air pollution: The Department of Health and Environmental Control, which regulates air pollution in the state, has let a fellow state department, the University of South Carolina, slip by with not installing $1 million in air scrubbers to better control air at USC's $17 million new energy plant. Neighbors believe USC needs to invest the extra funds to better control a new system that uses wood chips instead of natural gas. The plant will emit particulates akin to soot.
Scarborough. See Megaphone. Enough said.


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Just a quick note to let you know how you missed out this week. If you were a subscriber to the paid edition of Statehouse Report, you would have received the information below on Friday AND you would have gotten other special features:

  • NUMBER OF THE WEEK: 72.5%
  • HOT RACE: Editor Jerry Ausband profiles the race for House seat 119
  • RADAR SCREEN: Jessica's law
  • PALMETTO POLITICS: Spratt on top again
  • BLOGROLL: Blogging slows down a little -- Scarborough, Sanford, Spratt, more
  • MEGAPHONE: Rep. Wild West

For more information, contact us today about our affordable paid subscriptions for businesses and organizations that need the inside scoop at the Statehouse.

AVAILABLE NOW: Furman University's Don Gordon has great things to say about Andy Brack's new book of commentaries, "Bugging the Palmettos." Click here to learn more and buy the book -- only $15.00!

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