Hawaii Blog Smackdown

Prominent island blogger Ian Lind, a must-read for any Hawaii media or political wonk, got a tip from Honolulu Weekly editor Chris Haire that trouble-prone Board of Education candidate Kris DeRego was blogging. The modest name of the UH undergrad’s online outpourings? “Hardball Hawaii.”

Lind gave it a once over, and criticized DeRego for flubbing various details of politics and law. He also quoted some odd elements of DeRego’s Xanga site. “Perhaps I’m being too hard on a new student blogger,” Lind wrote. “Although I think even in the blog world, it’s important to get things right.”

While he didn’t earn a thumbs-up by any stretch of the imagination, DeRego still got the bulk of Lind’s attention on Sunday and a juicy hyperlink… manna from heaven in Hawaii’s tiny blog community.

Sadly, DeRego showed his true colors as a blogging (and political) neophyte, responding to Lind with an embarassing tirade titled, “So You Wanna Be Startin’ Something?” Lind’s 500-word review inspired a 1,300-word rant in which DeRego attempted to refute every single point, described the mention of his Xanga site as a malicious attack on his character, and characterized Lind’s critique as a “pitiful personal attack.”

Talk about a missed opportunity. Lind’s reading of DeRego’s comments on Mazie Hirono and his BOE opponent John Penebacker could’ve led to a decent exchange of ideas, as it were. But DeRego was so infuriated by Lind’s nitpicking he overreacted on a grand scale. DeRego twice mentions Lind’s well-documented termination from the Star-Bulletin in an apparent attempt to discredit him. And he incredulously dismisses Lind as an “amateur blogger” (as opposed to what?) who perhaps resents having to share the limelight with “a precocious college kid.”

As for getting a chuckle out of DeRego’s site on Xanga? A site already known for adolescent melodrama? First rule of blogging, and the web for that matter: if you don’t want it read, don’t publish it online.

In most cases, blogs give candidates a chance to speak for themselves without the filter of the mainstream media. Skeptic that I am, I figured that — despite the news coverage of DeRego’s past troubles with the law (and ex-girlfriends) — there might be more to the guy. But this is one case in which letting the candidate speak for himself is clearly a liability, and not an asset, to the campaign.

Still, when it comes to the Board of Education, elections are purely a matter of name recognition, not qualification. So DeRego’s notoriety may still serve him well. While I worry that he may win, I’m consoled by the fact that his term would at least be an entertaining one. With Beverly Harbin gone, we need someone to serve as comedic relief.

Who calls themselves “precocious,” anyway?

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