Now Guest Blogging: Jeb Bush

Now that the digital graveyard is overflowing with the dead, dormant and infrequently updated blogs of elected officials, many may be wondering whether they can ...
by | April 21, 2006

Blogging_bush Now that the digital graveyard is overflowing with the dead, dormant and infrequently updated blogs of elected officials, many may be wondering whether they can find a better way to tap into the blogging phenomenon. In fact, some already have, the latest being Florida Governor Jeb Bush.

Bush guest blogged this week at the Alliance for School Choice's new blog, Edspresso, outlining five rules for successful school reform. Guest blogging seems like a cure for much of what ails the blogs of political elites.

Prominent politicians have faced a number of perils when trying to start their own blogs. But guest blogging may just be a very workable solution.

In some ways, politicians seem like ideal blogosphere participants because of their access to inside information. However, unlike pajama-clad malcontents, officeholders have to worry about damaging the relationships that allow them to govern effectively.

Equally importantly, running your own blog takes more time than most elected officials have, especially since readers won't keep coming back unless they have daily updates. But, delegating the responsibility to staffers undermines the personal authenticity most people expect from bloggers. The result is that folks like Tennessee Governor Phil Bredesen and Washington, D.C. Mayor Anthony Williams only post sporadic updates that likely do not garner large readerships.

In contrast, guest blogging allows officials to only write when they have something to say and to tap into the readerships of sites that are already popular. Jeb certainly isn't the first person to figure this out. Members of Congress are frequent contributors to prominent blogs such as Daily Kos and Red State and Virginia legislators have participated in Q and A sessions on sites like Not Larry Sabato and Too Conservative. The Cleveland Plain Dealer even has a blog called "Open Mike" that is just for political candidates in Ohio to say their piece.

Guest blogging has its own dangers, however. Most notably, elected officials who aren't mindful of the etiquette of the sites they visit are likely to a get a cool reception. For example, some Daily Kos readers have complained that politicians who blog aren't as responsive to queries in the comments section as regular bloggers.

So, how did Jeb do? Not bad, in my estimation. He did a good job of making his experiences in Florida relevant to a national audience. My only concern: He may be suffering from a sore shoulder after patting himself on the back so much.   

Josh Goodman
Josh Goodman | Former Staff Writer | mailbox@governing.com