a few months back, jennifer wagner, one of the state's most prominent and popular bloggers, quit blogging to go work for the jim schellinger campaign. we all know how that turned out: schellinger was defeated in the primary by jill long thompson.
now jen is back with a new blog, hoosier political report. the new site has been active for a couple weeks—thus other blogger announced its arrival long ago—so let's check in and see how things are going there.
hoosier political report essentially replaces the old taking down words blog, with a focus on statewide politics and the governor's race. as usual, jen's commentary and analysis are incisive and insightful. so fans of TDW will definitely find things to like here. but HPR has lots more than what TDW had, so let's look at the new features.
one feature is a daily news update, with a roundup of links to political stories from throughout the state. as someone who is too lazy to check all the major indiana papers—i often just check the indy star and move on—this is a great feature. you can also sign up to receive it as a daily email, which sounds awfully convenient.
another new feature of HPR is other bloggers: HPR is apparently a group blog, and in particular jen promises bipartisan commentary. i'm a bit skeptical there: it seems that the most popular and most successful blogs tend to have a common viewpoint, be it center-left, far-right, hipster, or what have you. i can't think of many quality blogs that successfully blend viewpoints from the right and left, the occasional guest post aside. then again, it could work, and the presence of the other side could help keep everyone more honest. i guess we'll see how that pans out.
a couple of the new posters have already joined up. chris faulkner is an admitted republican, but his two posts so far are pretty good, with nothing objectionable. likewise, i don't know scott downes's political affiliation (i suspect democrat), but his posts so far are perfectly fine.
on the other hand, i'm unimpressed, to put it lightly, by the introductory post by average white male obamican. the whole schtick for this persona is apparently that he can't decide between obama and mccain. seems like an obvious choice to me: a vote for mccain is a vote to continue the horrific policies of george bush (including... no, especially the occupation of iraq), and a vote for obama is a vote to stop the madness. i don't understand why i should care about the opinions of someone who claims he won't know who he's voting for "until I pull the lever", nor what value such musings are supposed to add to the conversation. (never mind the annoying pundit habit of imagining yourself and your beliefs to be "average" or "typical". you can't make yourself into everyman by editorial fiat, unless you legally change your name to "every man" as one of my friends did.)
those are just the bloggers who've posted already. looking at the category listing in the sidebar, i see one more name that troubles me: joshua claybourn. longtime readers may remember that my last attempt to engage claybourn didn't go so well. it all goes back to claybourn's involvement in a 2006 political scandal that came to be known as the "facebook scandal".
as you may recall, claybourn was a supporter of then-rep john hostettler, who was in a contentious race against brad ellsworth. a commenter at in the agora—a group blog shared by claybourn and a few others—noted that ellsworth's daughter, then a 19-year-old IU student, had photos on her facebook page that suggested she engaged in underage drinking. claybourn, on acquiring this dirt on ellsworth, promptly passed it on to the evansville courier & press, and then feighned surprise when the story turned up in the newspaper.
that's where i came in. i posted some uncomfortable questions in the comments at ITA, and not only were my comments deleted, but i was banned from commenting altogether. (eventually my commenting rights were reinstated, but the whole thing left enough of a bad taste in my mouth that i haven't much interest in reading or commenting at that site since.) i don't think he ever did give a satisfactory answer to my question. and on top of that, he repeatedly and substantially edited his post without a disclaimer noting that it had been edited, and at the time the site had a "no caching" policy that made tracking down the original content difficult. (though i believe i was eventually able to piece it together.)
now, in the end it all turned out okay: i got a link from atrios, claybourn won the coveted "wanker of the day" award, and ellsworth got elected despite such republican dirty tricks. but still... jen wagner herself wrote more than once about claybourn's role in the facebook scandal, so i'm a bit puzzled why she would want him on her new blog.
then again, that was two years ago, so i thought i should check in on ITA and see if josh has changed. what did i find? sexist attacks on hillary clinton. the repeated suggestion that there's no difference between gay marriage and incest or polygamy. a huffy post about those crazy artists these days, in which he fell for a hoax and then denied that it was a hoax after this was pointed out to him. and that's just since april. here's hoping his contributions to HPR will be minimal.
overall, i must recommend HPR, both for its daily link update and for quality analysis of indiana politics. but i'm concerned about the attempt at bipartisanship, if it means giving a larger platform to the likes of josh claybourn. time will tell how this strategy works. ¶