Slate blogger and pathological counterintuitionist Mickey Kaus is actually serious about challenging Barbara Boxer in the California Democratic primary. The deadline to file nomination papers is tomorrow, and he's been gathering signatures. Will Slate let him write as a candidate?
Kaus admits that running against Boxer is a hopeless gambit, and the idea—which he says he got from his dermatologist—is just to register a protest against all the corrupt unions who brought you the 40-hour work week. And to get a bunch of attention!
But Kaus hasn't posted a word to Kausfiles, the blog he writes for Slate, since he was caught picking up paperwork to file as a candidate earlier this month by LA Weekly. He's been hosting parties to gather signatures for the run, and posting to Twitter about the process—not to mention keeping tabs on those damn unions. His absence from Kausfiles indicates that there may be a lack of comfort at Slate—or perhaps its parent, the Washington Post Company—about letting a candidate for national office pass off his campaign literature as journalism, or blogging, or whatever you want to call his livelihood. Indeed, both Kaus and Slate editor in chief Jacob Weisberg confirmed to Gawker that "it's not yet resolved" whether the blog will continue during Kaus' Don Quixote act.
That hesitancy doesn't bode well for Kaus' plans. He told Investor's Business Daily that he hopes to keep the blog, and Slate revenue stream, alive during the campaign, and that "he envisions a low-cost campaign of ideas, harnessing the Web to spread his message and fundraise." From a legal perspective, it doesn't look that would present any problems: The FEC has explicitly exempted almost all editorial internet messaging from campaign laws. So the Washington Post Company—which just happens to be saddled with some particularly troublesome union employees!—probably wouldn't have to worry about an investigation into whether it was completely underwriting a partisan political campaign with corporate dollars.
But it's still weird, and wouldn't set a great precedent for the company. Nor does Kaus' candidacy in general. If you think, like the New York Times' Ross Douthat, that we need more "public intellectuals" who have accomplished literally nothing in their lives aside from writing and saying things entering the electoral arena, just picture Andrew Breitbart kissing babies. Because it's coming.