On planet Earth, the John Kerry joke story ended yesterday. On the blogs, outrage is still churning. But it's a secondhand, Pavlovian outrage—grumbling about how Kerry insulted the troops 34 years ago, grumbling about how he's, like, so boring, man. It's like the anti-Democrat blogosphere uncovered an acid hit under the aspirin bottle, and it's shocked them into a 2004 battle flashback. Says Roy Edroso:
Were I of a cynical turn of mind, I might suspect that this was the idea all along. Now Kerry, who is not running for office, has become the heat sink that draws all the savage denunciations ("a man who remembers everything and learns nothing," "Mister Nuance," "forlorn loser," etc) that might otherwise be expended upon those who are.
In fact, I don't know why I bother to provide post-specific links, as the folks at The Corner and other such blather outlets will be hammering this into the next decade. Remember, the blogosphere thing is just a bubble, and its skin, like that of the paramecium, is only semi-permeable: news may enter, but outrage mostly stays inside, which is of course the secret of both the blogosphere's growth and its ineffectuality: it swells without discharging.
That's true, but there's more than that. The blogs had actually played an active role in demolishing Kerry back in 2004; they did some of their own digging into his record, they marshalled their own experts during the CBS scandal. But this kerfuffle was completely media- and party-driven; it shook down like it could have 10 or 12 years ago. A news camera captured Kerry's original stumble, then a Fox News reporter asked Tony Snow about it at the Tuesday press briefing. Snow had gathered some past embarrassing Kerry quotes to feed the story; his attack on Kerry was the news until Kerry's own, original non-apology. That was followed by the White House including an anti-Kerry line in a Bush stump speech, which it previewed for the media Tuesday afternoon. The networks broke in to cover Bush's remarks; newswires ran the story on Tuesday night and Wednesday morning. By the time Democrats like Hillary Clinton were prodding Kerry to apologize, the blogs hadn't contributed anything to the story.
What could they have contributed? Well, why didn't any blogs start new anti-Kerry pages, or edit together video parodies/ads and put them on YouTube? Where were the audio edits? It took around 15 seconds for the Howard Dean scream to inspire the first audio edits, so it's not like bloggers had never taken a political gaffe and run with it. The only non-media intervention in the story was the hilarious "Halp us John Carry" sign created by soldiers in Iraq, published first at the Drudge report, and then hyped by blogs.
Maybe someone can point to the examples I'm missing, but it seems like the (political) blogs are continuing their evolution into dull extensions of the two parties.