Monday, May 21, 2007


Online, GOP is playing catchup

“But implicit in his cheerleading was the acknowledgment that there is a widening gap between Democrats and Republicans on the Internet, and that his [Republican] party will have to scramble to catch up.”

While it would obviously be better for the GOP to have dedicated sites that generate more hits, this piece comes across as more wishful thinking than actual cause for alarm. To make its initial case, the article cites two Republicans:

“…David All, a former Republican congressional aide, [who] launched a blog recently…” and

“Another Republican -- Michael Turk, who was in charge of Internet strategy for President Bush's 2004 campaign…”

And when all you’ve got is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail. Mr. All further analyzes the problem:

“"We've always been a party of staying on message," All said. "It's the Rush Limbaugh model. What Tony Snow says in the White House filters down to talk radio, which makes its way to the blogs."

…which pretty much describes how we got to the ongoing group hug in conservative circles over the latest immigration proposals.

“Peter Leyden, director of the New Politics Institute, a San Francisco-based think tank that in recent months has been advising Democratic members of Congress and their staffs on how to take full advantage of the Web, argues that the culture of Democrats is a much better fit in the Internet world.

"What was once seen as a liability for Democrats and progressives in the past -- they couldn't get 20 people to agree to the same thing, they could never finish anything, they couldn't stay on message -- is now an asset," Leyden said. "All this talking and discussing and fighting energizes everyone, involves everyone, and gets people totally into it."

Then, to further illustrate this, Mr. Leyden pointed to the spirited but civil discussions liberals and progressives within the Democratic Party have been engaging in for years over Abortion, the Iraq War and Global Warming.

(Ed. Note: Had that think tank instead been Salt Lake-based and advising Republicans, you think Post writer Jose Antonio Vargas would have left out the descriptive “conservative” or "right-wing" like he left out “liberal” or "left wing" here)

The article also cites Daily Kos founder Markos Moulitsas Zúniga (and to which fellow MBAer Crablaw is one of the more rational contributors). The Daily Kos is an immensely successful web site, arguably the biggest in the political arena. And here’s an example of how influential such web sites can be:

“But Kos’s political instincts leave, shall we say, something to be desired. In 2004, he created the “Kos Dozen,” A group of 12 (eventually 15) candidates whom Daily Kos readers were supposed to back with donations. With Kos’s keen instincts, and large donations from Daily Kos readers, the number of Kos Dozen candidates who were elected was… zero.

“Then last year, Kos backed Democrat Iraq-War-veteran Paul Hackett in his challenge to Republican Jean Schmidt for an open House seat in Ohio. After funding Hackett with hundreds of thousands of dollars, Hackett… lost.

“Kos hasn’t learned, though. This year, he’s been on a crusade against relatively moderate Texas Democrat Henry Cuellar. Kos backed Cuellar’s Democrat primary opponent, former Rep. Ciro Rodriguez. In Tuesday’s Democrat primary election, Rodriguez… lost.” » The Kos Record is Intact

But apparently this is of little significance:

"Sure, conservatives can point to the Dan Rather controversy and the Swift boat episode as a measure of their success online. But that's it," Moulitsas said.

Well, that “it” is supposedly what the article is all about. The Swift boat episode is often credited with having some impact on who got elected in 2004 so that’s a pretty big “it”. Obviously, Republicans can use the internet better but part of their problem is that conservatives are already pretty well-entrenched on the ‘net with a variety of well-written and widely read sites. And they are not shy about castigating Republicans for their mis-deeds.

And besides, if the ‘net were it – Howard Dean would be President (or, at the least, he would have been the loser in the Electoral College) and Ned Lamont would be a US Senator.

Improve…don’t panic.

Thanks for the link, MC. I should note that I have made a public point of ceasing to do business with Kos Media; this occurred during your recent move. I won't hi-jack your thread by going into why but it's not a secret or anything. All the best and thanks, Bruce/Crablaw.
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