"I am not an advocate for frequent changes in laws and constitutions. But laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind. As that becomes more developed, more enlightened, as new discoveries are made, new truths discovered and manners and opinions change, with the change of circumstances, institutions must advance also to keep pace with the times. We might as well require a man to wear still the coat which fitted him when a boy as civilized society to remain ever under the regimen of their barbarous ancestors." - Thomas Jefferson (appears in the Jefferson Memorial)

A blog endorses

No, not this one – we haven’t and won’t, in any political race. (At least that’s our past and current policy; like all things blog, it could change in future.) But what does it mean to say that a blog has endorsed a candidate?

The question is a little trickier than it might appear at first.

Some blogs, like this one, are relatively controlled-access and have some control of viewpoint. You can comment about our posts, and we encourage that, but anyone who says this space has endorsed someone or something because a commenter has, is simply wrong. On the other hand are blogs like Blue Oregon or Red State Northwest which are joint efforts by a number of bloggers; if one of those bloggers urges the election of a specific candidate – as occasionally happens – you still can’t easily say that the blog has done that.

And there’s a secondary question: What does it mean to endorse? Is writing favorably about the idea of someone’s election enough? Newspaper endorsements are typically clear-cut; they say that “we endorse X for election,” or something clearly similar. On the web, the situation is a little less certain.

All that preface to a response by the campaign of Keith Johnson, a candidate for the U.S. House in Idaho’s 1st district, to a question posed here about one of its messages. The message said that “2 out of 3 left wing, Idaho bloggers endorsed Robert Vasquez in the Republican primary for Congress. Because he would ensure the Democrats a win in November. The third endorsed Sheila Sorensen. Enough said.”

So, we asked, who were the bloggers? The campaign responded today, and here are the links:

The two Vasquez items are linked. The blogger at the new site IdaBlue, remarking on comments in the Idaho Statesman about Republicans worried they might nominate a weak candidate for Congress, had this: “Personally, I think Dems ought to vote for Vasquez. Although he has done well raising money so far, immigration has been a hot issue. There is no guarantee that it will stay hot, and his money could trickle off for the general. Being outside the establishment he won’t be able to raise funds as well as an insider. Also, the racist right probably won’t vote for him. And last, in the event that the R beats Larry Grant, I’d rather be stuck with Vasquez than Sali.”

Okay, that pretty much qualifies as an endorsement, albeit a backhanded one; it does in any event validate Johnson’s central point. (In a comment here, the proprietor of IdaBlue remarked, “I suppose he could be counting my post . . . It drew a positive comment from a left blogger, and a negative one from a right blogger. But, since I get only about 22 readers a day, it’s unlikely he is aware of my blog.”

The second endorsement was that comment from a left blogger, under the headline “Vote for Pedro… um, I mean, Vasquez!” It appeared on the active blog 43rd State Blues, and owing to the headline if (to a lesser degree) the content of the post, it probably qualifies technically as an endorsement. An endorsement by the blogger, not necessarily the blog. Still, the two Vasquez items do check out as presented by the Johnson people.

Johnson’s cite of a third endorsement is more problematic. It appears on a Moscow blog, F-Words, which like the other two is oriented more left than right (subhead is “feminism, food, fact and fiction”). She writes a descriptive bit about Sorensen and about Bill Sali, and ends with this: ” I have to say, if Democrat Larry Grant doesn’t win the election, I would be absolutely mortified if Bill Sali were to be representing my district at a federal level. Sheila Sorenson, I could probably live with. Maybe.”

Is that an endorsement? Call it a gray area: She says that one candidate is better than another, but stops short of addressing the other four in the race or of urging a vote for anyone; if anything, it could best be read as an endorsement of Grant. But it’s an iffy case.

So let’s call it two and a half out of three for the Johnson campaign.

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  1. Serephin said:

    Re: the “Vote for Pedro… um, I mean, Vasquez!” post —

    It wasn’t an endorsement. Rather, I thought Alan’s idea interesting and posted as such. However, in the comments of the same post, I wrote this:

    “Written more in snark.
    Submitted by Serephin on Thu, 04/20/2006 – 1:35pm.

    (At least, on my part.) I don’t think too many Dems would give up the chance to vote for one of their own. But it’s a fun “what-if” to think about the possibility that, if the opportunity presented itself to cross over without hurting our own candidates, which GOP nut-covered kook would you like to help get on the ballot (and then kick their ass) in November.”

    As much as I would enjoy voting against Vasquez in November, he’s not going to win the primary. Pity, ‘dat.

    If no Idaho Dem candidate had a primary opponent, or I could live with either Dem choice being elected, I could see crossing over in the ballot box. But I have Dems in contested races next week that I want to see win, as well as writing in J.R. “Roger” Williams to help him get his 1,000 signatures to go up against Ben Ysursa in the SecState race this fall.

    So, no endorsement from 43rd State Blues. However, if candidate Johnson considers running for dog catcher or sewer commissioner, he has my enthusiastic recommendation.

    May 18, 2006
  2. Randy Stapilus said:

    Thanks much for the response – and the snark intent is duly noted (and was understood to be such in these quarters).

    For our purposes, we were asking the question of whether Johnson could produce evidence of his “2 and 1 bloggers” remark. Technically, we’d say he met 2 1/2 – but that’s under terms of the letter, not the spirit; obviously, neither blog referencing Vasquez was endorsing him as a promotion of him, in the sense that a newspaper endorsing him (had there been any) would have done.

    We do wonder though whether the whole question of blog endorsements will become a recurring topic of discussion. The concept of even mentioning a blog endorsement – whatever that might be – was an irrelevancy just two years ago. Where will we be two years from now?

    May 18, 2006

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