One thing I had not realized before was it also represents a change in how decisions are made.
The Nixon Thesis was based on TV, and decisions were made based on PR-spinning think tanks. Ideas came out of these ideologically-driven institutions, were pushed into the mainstream media, became conventional wisdom and were then acted upon.
Notice the contrast with how things worked under the New Deal Thesis which preceded it. There decisions were made based on academic research. Ideas came out of universities, were then pushed through Presidential appointees, and newspaper columnists then validated them.
Republicans are continuing to do things the Nixon way. That's why they seem stupid. The mistake made by otherwise-smart people like Digby is to assume this is how things always are. It has always been that way in her memory, how could it ever change?
We're seeing right now how it changes, and what is changing . Village journalists are frankly amazed that not only did the President get his stimulus bill through, but that he remains as popular as ever. He appears to be defying political gravity and thus, they assume, he must be brought back to Earth.
This assumption is especially virulent over at The Politico, the Pajamas Media of the Chattering Classes. Despite the fact that this site exists on the Internet, it is created in the same way, and by the same people, we see on TV. It is thus the penny paper of The Village.
People like Digby, and Markos, and Jerome, and Jane, not just the leaders of the blogosphere but everyone. Even me. Even you. Starting in 2003, increasing numbers of people have taken to this medium to express their thoughts, to sell their ideas, and to create meaningful policy alternatives to what The Village accepts.
The reason The Village is cleared out in every generation is because its members fail to understand just how thoroughly the ground beneath their feet has shifted. Newspaper journalists a generation ago resented, and did not account, for the idea that Bob Haldeman's PR spin, fed by think tanks like The Heritage Foundation, could become the dominant form of media-policy discourse.
In the same way today's Village ignores the blogosphere.
It's not just mega-sites like the Huffington Post, or Tina Brown's copycat The Daily Beast. It's not just a question of putting your old process online as at The Politico, or shouting the talking points louder as at the Pajama game. It's not just a matter of building a different kind of political journalism, as TalkingPointsMemo has done.
It's a lot more. It's specialty blogs like The HealthCare blog. (That's Brian Klepper, one of its writers.) It's political blogs based on analyzing numbers like Nate Silver's Fivethirtyeight.com. It's having every expert making their case, agreeing or disagreeing with one another, and bringing new ideas to the fore.
The Web is wide and the Web is deep. The Web gives everyone their voice, and allows images, arguments, even policy to rise to the top naturally. From the bottom up. We are early in this process. Few have really learned how to manipulate it, for the Internet naturally resists manipulation.
What you can do is surf on top of the trends. That's what Howard Dean did, it's what the Obama campaign did, and it's what the President now does. The President is as natural with the Web, and all its complexity, as Franklin D. Roosevelt was with the radio.
Republicans have, in fact, not yet begun to respond. They are using the old tools in the old way, expecting people to react as though this were 1993, before the Web was spun. They are using TV, especially cable, to spin talking points into the ether, and they are dominating the conversation there because cable agrees with the assumptions behind the spin, and cable wishes to remain central to the discussion.
But there's a new game in town.Wolf Blitzer is out, Digby is in. And there's a new sheriff in town. Richard Nixon is dead. It's the age of Obama now.