As you might imagine, over the past few days, the Clooney blog episode has prompted many interesting discussions, as well as a good deal of reflection on my part. Here's some of what I've been thinking:
First of all, is the blogosphere powerful or what? As has been endlessly noted, the Clooney blog was drawn from answers he had given in interviews with the Guardian and on Larry King. Neither of which garnered much, if any, reaction.
But when the same words and ideas were repackaged in the form of a blog, they were suddenly exposed to a new audience, infused with a new currency -- and exploded into the public eye, drawing an overwhelmingly positive response and provoking a great deal of valuable discussion.
It was a testament to the power of blogging, and it's why I remain, despite the dustup, an unrepentant evangelist for the value of bringing to the blogosphere some of the most interesting voices of our time that are not already there.
So while this is definitely the last time I'll rely on an okay-to-publish from a publicist, it most assuredly won't be the last time I'll recruit for the blogosphere and try to get the uninitiated to blog. Even folks who don't know a hyperlink from a permalink or who need a Blogging 101 tutorial and a lot of hand-holding in the process.
But, some have asked, is a blog still a blog if it contains repurposed material? My answer is: absolutely. Who cares if the ideas were first expressed in a book, a speech, a play, or an interview? The medium isn't the message; the message is the message. With the right medium providing the needed amplification.
We live in an age of information overload. We're bombarded with words and images from our 500-channel universe and the infinite Internet. We're obsessed with the newest, the latest, the freshest. And what was said yesterday is old news. In this kind of atmosphere, it's all-too-easy for important ideas to be lumped in with the disposable ones and deleted from our internal hard drives. Lost in the cacophony and the ether. Which is why the gems need to be plucked from the pile and put on display.
Indeed, that was the reason I asked George Clooney to blog in the first place. Not in order to add a celebrity to our blog roll but because I felt the ideas I'd heard him eloquently express in interviews bore repeating in a different, new, and contagious forum. Particularly his critique of Democratic cowardice in the run up to the war.
We would not be in Iraq if it were not for that failure of leadership. And the ongoing horrors coming out of Iraq show just how high a price we continue to pay because of their fear of being criticized.
That's a message that needs to be repeated again and again. From high and low, on TV, in print, and, yes, in blogs. If this drumbeat is not kept up, Democratic leaders will continue to falter, and continue to fail to provide leadership on Iraq. This lesson of repetition is one the other side has learned to great effect (witness the 46% of the public that still believed, as late as February 2005, that Saddam Hussein was involved in 9/11).
So, for those of you who missed it, here is what George Clooney had to say in the Guardian:
In 2003 I was saying, where are the ties [between Iraq] and al-Qaida? Where are the ties to 9/11? I knew it; where the fuck were these Democrats who said, 'We were misled'? That's the kind of thing that drives me crazy: 'We were misled.' Fuck you, you weren't misled. You were afraid of being called unpatriotic.
Wow, rereading that, I have the same reaction I had the first time I read it: I'd love to see him blog about that!
Hmm, where did I put that publicist's number...?