"No experiment can be more interesting than that we are now trying, and which we trust will end in establishing the fact, that man may be governed by reason and truth. Our first object should therefore be, to leave open to him all the avenues to truth. The most effectual hitherto found, is the freedom of the press. It is, therefore, the first shut up by those who fear the investigation of their actions." --Thomas Jefferson to John Tyler, 1804.

Tweets that bite

Donna Nelson
Michael Baumgartner

Twitter, like the other social networks (why hasn’t a socnet formulation taken hold?), is a potentially big tool for candidates. But tools can be used in both helpful and dangerous ways.

Washington state Senator Michael Baumgartner, R-Spokane, asked of his Twitter followers what sounded like a reasonable question: “The past couple of weeks many have asked me to explore running for US Senate. What do you think?” That would be as the Republican candidate against incumbent Democrat Maria Cantwell, who so far has no major challengers – meaning the field is pretty much open on the Republican side.

Nothing at all wrong with Baumgartner’s tweet – other candidates have and will throw such ideas out there, and it can be a useful tack – other than that you can’t control what the reply might be.

In this case, as the news site Publicola reported, “Twenty hours on, Baumgartner, who can lean moderate on social and environmental issues, has only gotten two reactions; just one person retweeted it and one person said it would be her “dream come true.” Both folks described themselves as Tea Partiers.”

Or maybe Baumgartner just learned something useful …

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