Are Bloggers Having an Influence Inside the Beltway?
From the National Journal’s Beltway Blogroll Blog, Daniel Glover takes a skeptical look at the influence of blogs:
This year, bloggers are the figurative freshmen of larger Washington. They have won enough respect in certain pockets of America to claim occasional seats at the policymaking table — but they are definitely back seats.
That reality has been abundantly evident the past couple of weeks, as conservative bloggers have been showered with ever more attention from the Republican powers that be — yet have nothing substantive to show for it.
The battle over Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers illustrates the point well. Many bloggers oppose her nomination — a poll at The Truth Laid Bear puts the opposition-to-support ratio at more than 4-to-1 — but President Bush seems determined to stand loyally by his lawyer.
Although the opposition from bloggers spurred the Republican National Committee to hold its first-ever exclusive conference call with bloggers, the event was more about wooing bloggers than inviting them into a conversation, which is what bloggers want. The same was true of a second call about a week later. . . .
Bloggers are not powerless in policy circles and actually are gaining influence. Otherwise, official Washington would pay them no mind whatsoever. . . . But bloggers today are not as persuasive or as intimidating as they might like to believe.
I don’t agree. As I blogged earlier, I believe that the blogosphere has been playing an extremely important role in the Miers appointment process. While the true power of the blogosphere has yet to fully be manifested, it has been a large part of the pushback against the nomination.
The fact that Bush still stands behind Miers is not an indication of the blogosphere’s failure. The blogospheric reaction certainly has the Administration reeling. The blogosphere has registered the dislike for the nomination in a much more potent and articulate way than a mere poll.
I also believe that bloggers have helped shape the debate on the issue. The blogosphere has led to many experts, who might just get a soundbite in the print and TV news, having a much larger influence in shaping the debate. The mainstream media has picked up on this and turned it into a lead story for the Miers nomination. The eyes of the media and those inside the Beltway are looking at the blogosphere to guage the way the debate is progressing.
There do not seem to be many sure votes in the Senate for Miers, and it is becoming difficult for Senators to support Miers without believing that they’ll take a big political hit. In essence, a set of virtual confirmation hearings are being held in cyberspace, and the fate of the nomination may well be decided before the actual hearings in the Senate even begin.