Joe Lieberman has long suffered from a complete inability to comprehend what is happening to him on the blogs — one person I spoke with said that his friend’s teenage son had been asked by the campaign to start a one, as if that was going to solve the problem. The Connecticut press, however, seems to be trying to come to terms with this new factor in local politics.
I find myself wondering if the Lieberman inner circle and Joe himself went from underestimating the blogs to over-reacting to them. They began the race imagining that their internet detractors were marginalized rabble. They may still think that, but the strength of sentiment on the internet has, I think, gotten inside their heads. What they may not understand is that strong language and explosive overstatement are part of the quintessence of the blog medium. In a very McLuhanesque way, bloggers often find themselves slipping into stridency and vulgarity when they had no intention of doing so because the medium shapes its messengers.
I think the Lieberman retinue has been collectively freaked out by the way their internet opponents express displeasure. I think that has kicked them all into a very paranoid mode. Paranoid people make bad decisions. I think this has started to look, to them, less like an election and more like some kind of nightmare or fairy tale in which they are pursued through the woods by thugs and rabid dogs. They’ve almost forgotten that they’re running against Ned Lamont. They’ve identified, as their true opponent, a mob of crazy bloggers who will say anything and stop at nothing. The rest of the world, however, can’t see the bloggers, so a lot of Lieberman’s desperate flailings don’t seem to make much sense.
Marion Steinfels, Lieberman’s communications director, said that on Tuesday she watched a YouTube video about Lamont and tax cuts forwarded to her by e-mail. But when asked what she knows about Nedheads, Steinfels said she has seen the term before but knows little about the group.