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June 29, 2010

Riehl's War on the GOP Establishment

War? Okay, not war; but "Riehl's Complaint" isn't a very good headline.

Riehl is annoyed that the GOP is very much Stuck in the Seventies regarding new media:

I continue to insist that the DNC gets new media in ways the GOP still refuses to embrace. It's intent on controlling the narrative, while the DNC is more interested in fueling constituent and blog-based activism from the Left.

Democrat-aligned parties have also funded the mechanisms to accomplish it. You can go to even deeply Red districts and find an activist infrastructure on the Left, often blog-based. Meanwhile, GOP campaigns pay consultants to send out annoying spam emails to every blogger under the sun.

The instant cause of this dispute is a GOP new media guy who posted a "yawn" response to the DNC's "Macaca Moment" project (getting activists to follow Republicans around with flip-cams and catch them saying something awful).

Riehl's beef is that this eternal yawn of the GOP to new tactics and the new media environment is hurting the cause.

Admittedly a bit frustrated by Schaper's apparent lack of appreciation for grassroots activism and the conservative movement as a whole, I had to look him up, as I had no idea who the hell he was, or what he did. That struck me as bizarre given his title. He had never before commented on the listserv, so far as I recall. Here is my response.
"Nick Schaper - Director of New Media at House Republican Leader John Boehner"

Me: As I said, our new media people don't even understand the game the Left is playing out here. The grassroots is the one yawning because you guys put us to sleep.

But his bigger complaint is that the GOP's model -- to the extent they have some kind of coherent theory about new media, and it's quite questionable they even have that -- is that the GOP shall be tasked with all intellectual work of creating and shaping a message, and then they will send out mass press releases to bloggers, who will do nothing but cut and paste those well-crafted messages and hit "publish."

Again, I don't know if they even really intend that, because this seems so impossible to imagine one strains to believe someone could believe it would really happen.

And, in fact, no bloggers publish these endless press releases from politicians or the GOP; that's not news. The very fact it's in a mas press release sort of indicates it's not news.

No one does that. No one would do that. I don't even read press releases. My email is cluttered with fifteen thousand unopened press releases.

I don't know why the GOP is so fearful or disdainful of bloggers and activists. I know they're plugged in, a bit, with more conventional, mainstreamish outlets (like the Weekly Standard). And I understand why such respectable outlets should be more important than lowly bloggers.

Still, this idea that the GOP just won't do virtually anything to help a blogger out is counterproductive, and, if you're one of the bloggers so disdained, it's actually sort of personally insulting, too.

Riehl asked to be removed from the listserv in question (which, incidentally, I hadn't even heard of) because based on his exchange he felt grassroots/new media tips and suggestions were simply unappreciated, so it was pointless to belong to the listserv in the first place.

Sometimes a reader will tell us at AoS that we're "more influential than [we] know."

I have to tell you, I don't think so. If we were influential at all, someone would start trying to influence us.

Even with something minor like the soft corruption of cheap flattery (i.e., attempts at personal email exchanges as opposed to barraging people with press releases). I spoke to some of McCain's guys during the election, and while they gave me nothing but the party line, it was compromising, in a way favorable to them, to have that kind of access, even if it was a of a limited, let's-pretend-I'm-giving-you-something-besides-the-party-line sort of thing.

They were able to at least calm my frantic frustration at McCain's missteps. Anything bad I said about McCain was 10% less bad because their emails got me to take some of the edge off it.

But apart from that... I don't know. This is one of the top ten biggest conservative blogs; I guess I just would think someone would want to spin me or something.

Here's the dirty little secret of conservative blogging, at least as it appears to me: I'm sure the left is convinced we're all plugged in to the GOP and getting our Two Minute Hate of the Day from GOP central, and so on, and etc.

The actual truth is more scandalous. By and large (I can only speak for myself) the GOP itself and GOP candidates don't even bother trying to spin us or feed us something interesting to push.

I don't know the reason. Who knows, maybe other blogs are contacted on occasion and people just stay at arm's length away from AoSHQ because of the language and the perception we're not team players.

Maybe blogs are seen as too risky, too loose-cannon, too foul-mouthed. Maybe there is a well-founded fear that any association with a blog could wind up doing a lot of damage down the road.

I don't know. Personally I just think the GOP tilts way too much to comfortable old style stuff, who knows, maybe owing to the overall skew in the party to being a big older.

But, I mean, come on. The internet and blogs are not new. It's not like 60 year olds are befuddled at this new technology. 80 year olds, sure, but 60 year olds have been using it for ten years.

I really don't know.

By the Way: There are some guys in the GOP who are much more forward-leaning on this stuff but it appears that the party just ignores them, in the main.



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posted by Ace at 03:57 PM

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