Thursday, February 15, 2007

House with a View

Speaker Nancy Pelosi's brand new blog features plenty of YouTube clips of our elected Democratic official in action, on the floor of the House of Representatives, every day. It's flowering before our eyes, Internet video giving us revolutionary new access to our government, at a crucial moment in the development of our democracy.

The Speaker's blog is iconically named The Gavel, and while her direct address "Welcome" heralds a milestone in federal communication, more striking (and posted prior) is her intro, "No More Blank Checks," to the debate on the House Resolution condemning President Bush's latest "surge" escalation in Iraq.

Pelosi hardly hogs the stage, however, featuring abundant and clearly organized clips of various House Democrat floor speeches. Now, for some people (okay most of us it) might be more fun to listen to termites chewing through a basement, but because the nation is at such a turning point, the last election's mandate for change of military foreign policy so clear, it's interesting to see which of our local Representatives living there in D.C. have enough fire in the belly to move the debate and, ahead when the funding votes follow the resolution stage, makes the peoples' will a reality.

Based on the blogospheric response, Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-PA) is the rock star of the bunch, giving a precise yet passionate speech based on his experience as a Captain of the 82nd Airborne Division in Iraq. "Walking in my own combat boots, I saw first hand this Adminstration's policy failure in Iraq." An unimpeachable voice.

Murphy is one of the freshmen "Fightin' Dems who came back from Iraq and ran for office last November, but the older vets get some action as well.

Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY), a Korean War vet, brings up how General McArthur arrogantly screwed up that war, and reminds the chamber of his proposal to reinstate the draft, see how complacent the American people are once they have some skin in the game. Vietnam vet Rep. John Tanner (D-TN) gets in an argument that as Iraq is a theocratic democracy, we should get out of thinking that even if we were to be successful there, we wouldn't be spreading a true vision of democracy anyway. His line about Western-style separation of church and state harkens back to a simpler era, pre-January 20, 2001: "When people don't go to the same church, they nonetheless get together Monday through Friday and build a civil society."

There's no denying that such a legislative videoblog can be a great tool for promoting Party talent and is by nature a partisan utility. It's to Pelosi's great credit that while the views expressed are clearly the Leadership's agenda, it is for the most part unadorned with distracting graphics or negative broadsides. Per how she opens her intro speech to the War debate, she appreciates the solemnity of the occasion, of the challenge facing our country, and she does no disgrace to the office.

Like firedoglake's Libby Trial coverage, which I wrote about last week and The New York Times caught up to yesterday, The Gavel is the type of window concerned Americans have been clamoring for, another evolution of the journalism liberation movement begun in frustration by the political blogs.

Maybe back in the day we trust Cronkite and Brinkley as our half hour daily filter on all that history in the making, but these days we have an endless supply of cable network news coverage and it feels less reliable than ever. Beyond whatever blatant or subtle news coverage partisanship that may be polluting the media landscape, professional journalism seems have gotten too pro, too bought in, a far cry from the independent press the Founders had in mind.

We've got regular access now, daily windows on our government.

Use 'em or lose 'em.

Crossposted to The Daily Reel.

No comments: