Friday, August 06, 2010

New Yorker on the Senate

You may have read tweets or short blog posts about an article in this week's New Yorker on the Senate. "The Empty Chamber" by George Packer is available full-text online. It is a LONG article. I read it in print on the train (pp. 38-51) and it took a few days to get through all of it.

It is an illuminating look at the increasing gridlock in the Senate, not for the faint-hearted or the naive. Nonetheless, I tend to think we get the government we vote for and if people really let their elected officials know that they wanted less ideological filibustering and more cooperation that is what we would see. Feel free to color me cynical.

There were a few passages I particularly noted. This one was extremely jarring:

Bloggers carry so much influence that many senators have a young press aide dedicated to the care and feeding of online media (p. 42).

Please take note that they must be talking about the big national blogs. I can absolutely assure you that out here on the long tail of local / regional political blogging there are no aides dedicated to our care and feeding. The Huffington Post maybe, Above Average Jane, no.

On the same page we read:
Dodd, who came to the Senate in 1981 and will leave next January told me, "I used to have eleven Connecticut newspaper reporters who covered me on a daily basis. I don't have one today, and haven't had one in a number of years. Instead, D.C. publications only see me through the prism of conflict."

There may be a correlation between those two quotes and, if so, we are not the better for it. In general, bloggers are not reporters and blogs are not newspapers.

The articles goes into a lot of depth on how the Senate operates (or doesn't). It is not a quick read but it is an informative read.

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