Thursday, June 14, 2007

The GOP's plan - turn macaca into a positive

You have to be a real moron to think you can turn one of the biggest political gaffes in history into a "positive stepping stone" for the party as a whole. So really, no one should be surprised that the GOP is trying to do just that with Allen's "macaca moment" which cost him not only his Senate seat, but also any chance at holding political office ever again.
The Macaca moment has morphed into an official learning tool for the Republican establishment.

It's right there, on pages 18 and 22 of an Internet guide from the National Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee that its chairman, Sen. John Ensign (R-Nev.), hopes will become scripture for the 2008 candidates.

Always assume you're being recorded, and always record your opponent. The blogs -- oh, scratch that -- the Republican blogs are your friends, so use them for rapid response in good times and bad.

"The paradigmatic example of failure to do so is the 'macaca' moment," reads the guidebook (excerpted here), referring to a remark last year by former Sen. George Allen (R-Va.) that was captured on video and sunk his reelection campaign.
I'm sorry, but does that mean that you should fuck up and then blame the blogs for calling you on it? Or, for not rushing to your defense when you clearly don't deserve it? Or even worse, blame the person with the video camera for pressing "ON"?
The guidebook, 39 pages long and distributed last week to GOP Senate campaigns, underscores attempts by Republicans to level the Web-based playing field after Democrats, in Ensign's view, leveraged their Internet savvy into electoral wins. Republicans remain almost haunted by their 2006 missteps, particularly the way the macaca incident exposed chasms in their new media campaign strategy.

"It is critical that Republicans not let Democrats continue the edge," Ensign said. "They have had an edge on us."

The NRSC has hired two press secretaries for blogger outreach, and an in-house Web designer and video producer to assist campaigns. The committee also built a production studio in its basement for candidates to cut Web ads and trained campaign aides.
OK. Well, good for them. I'm glad the Republicans have finally discovered the internet. Looks like the Democratic party feels the same:
"Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery," said Matthew Miller, spokesman for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. "I'm glad the NRSC discovered the Internet in 2007."

Miller said the committee hired an online communications director two years ago, and has been training Senate candidates for months on Web strategy. "This isn't new for us," he said.
Nice. I'll take sarcasm and wit over insanity and CRAZY any day of the week. Here's the last bit of advice from the handbook, which yes; demands that candidates "go Oprah-style and get personal in a video blog, or vlog".
Don't be antisocial. Yes, that crazy thing the kids are doing these days -- posting their life details on social networking sites such as MySpace and Facebook -- can be good for candidates, too. The NRSC calls it "the next big thing in politics." So candidates need to step to it and start talking about their favorite ice cream flavors and such. Will TMI (too much information) be MIA in 2008?

Open the campaign checkbook. Hire at least one staff member, but hopefully three, to lasso the wild Web. Basically, the Internet can't be a payroll afterthought. Campaigns must have people who constantly update the website, manage postings on YouTube and MySpace, and monitor the hundreds, if not thousands, of chattering bloggers.

Remember the top blog dogs. Speaking of which, get in good with five of the best-read national conservative bloggers. The guide names names: Instapundit, Michelle Malkin, Captain's Quarters, Power Line and Hugh Hewitt. Do the same locally. Do an interview with "one friendly blogger," and interest from other local bloggers should follow.

Make blogs your first point of contact. It used to be that campaigns checked in with newspaper reporters, then everybody else. Now, friendly blogs should be the first point of contact. (The NRSC bumped the mainstream media to step eight on its nine-step plan for communicating the campaign's message to the public.)

The non-friendly blogs, i.e. "hostile, liberal blogs," should never be engaged directly by campaigns. "Doing so only legitimizes them," the guide states. Leave that up to surrogates. Instead, monitor the critical sites for inaccuracies that can be "useful down the road to delegitimize these blogs as a source for reliable information to the mainstream media."

But really, bloggers are no different from the MSM. OK, so maybe they have at least two things in common: They both like scoops and feeling special.

"Bloggers, particular national bloggers who've developed a reputation, have no interest in being BCC'd on a press release," the guide states. "They do, however, eagerly desire inside information about rapidly developing storylines of interest to their audiences. Personalized attention is important. Quick, personal response to any questions or concerns they may have about the information that you give them is also important."

Blogs are your canary. Treat them "as an 'early warning system' to help discern if an opponent's attacks are gaining traction," the guide reads, using Allen's campaign as an example. "Conservative blogs, who had long been lauding Sen. George Allen, were annoyed by shifting justifications and turned on Allen with a vengeance. Sen. Allen was never able to regain his status with bloggers, many of whom, at the time, were still touting Allen for President."

Blog yourself. They are an essential tool, the guide states, to thank donors and update supporters on the campaign.

The NRSC, however, could serve as a cautionary tale. It recently tried something different on its blog, removing the veneer of party unity and giving voice to critics of the Senate's bipartisan immigration bill. It caused a stir, and the site is no longer available. An NRSC spokeswoman said the site "was never fully launched.''

One last thing: Don't get sued. There are copyrights, trademarks and privacy laws. Be careful, give credit and pay the fees to use a photo. It's worth it to do so, the guide states, "rather than taking the chance of defending your actions in court."
I am ALL FOR the Republicans utilizing blogs and the web more in their quest for power. Hey, if it goes as well as it did this week in the Commonwealth of Virginia, the Democratic party will have all of the power for years to come.

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