Jonathan Chait has some tongue-in-cheek sport today with the president’s HuffPost item arguing for enactment of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA). He adjudges this new blogger Barack Obama as being pretty weak in this particular form of communication:
A good blog post might cite and rebut some counter-arguments, throw in some hyperlinks, muster some evidence and maybe a little snark. Obama’s post does none of these things. It merely regurgitates the premise.
Obama likewise pads out his post with repetitive calls for Congress to pass ENDA. Given that he has already stated his endorsement of the law, calling for Congress to pass it is itself a redundant concept….
I would not normally concern myself with the literary merits of a single blog post, except for the fact that Huffpo inexplicably gave it such prominent front-page space. Arianna Huffington obviously knows how to attract an audience, but the decision to display such a weak op-ed is bizarre.
Yeah, it’s all good for half-a-yuck. But Chait does implicitly raise a point about the nature of blogging that has nothing to do with Obama, but is a valid criticism of some material styling itself as “bloggy.” The medium is not particularly a good way to present simple messaging without documentation, second-level argument, personalization and humor. And it’s obviously not the most efficient way to publish copy that has to go through the elaborate vetting process every utterance of a president must endure.
Maybe Obama can do a real blog when he’s retired, and express the kind of nuance, detailed argumentation, and humor he undoubtedly possesses (as we can tell from his occasional off-script remarks on various and sundry topics, including blogging.) But for now, he’s just using HuffPost as one of a vast number of outlets available to him for issuing statements and press releases.