A counter-intuitive take on the online outreach efforts by the campaigns:
If there’s one phrase to describe Obama’s blog–and, in fact, his entire Internet operation–it’s “a means to an end”; Obama may benefit from unprecedented online enthusiasm–four to eight million email addresses, 1.5 million donors, 800,000 registered users of my.barackobama.com, his social networking platform, and hundreds of commenters on every post–but his team’s greatest innovation has been its relentless focus on converting that energy into favorable offline outcomes: registration drives, caucus turnout, et cetera. As a result, Obama’s blog is about as interesting as a Club Med brochure.
The McCain Report, on the other hand, is actually readable. …. In an item titled “Take a Chance on McCain,” Goldfarb informed “disaffected Hillary supporters” that “John McCain is a huge ABBA fan,” then posted a vintage YouTube clip of the catchy Swedish quartet. “We’re still working out a few kinks,” he writes elsewhere. “A last-minute decision to ditch the lime-green background cost us some time.” Needless to say, this is more self-mockery than the earnest Obama bloggers have mustered up in 17 months online.
And that’s precisely McCain’s problem: while the Obama campaign is even bigger and savvier than George W. Bush’s legendary presidential juggernauts, Team McCain is still stuck in its default mode: scrappy insurgent. Of course, the Arizona senator doesn’t appear to have much of a choice. Obama can afford to launch a massive 50-state voter registration drive because he’s raised about $300 million to date. McCain’s receipts? About $118 million. Without Obama’s resources, Team McCain has concluded that the only way to stay competitive is to stay lean and “human” and hope that the candidate’s accessibility and charm earns him free coverage. But there’s no doubt that Obama has–and will continue to have–sizable advantages in every area that matters: field organization, voter outreach, television spending, message control. Is this enough to win the election? We’ll know in November. Until then, McCain underestimates the power of Obama’s ruthlessly efficient operation at his own peril–even if his blog is more fun to read.
I am usually against efforts to make the world less fun and interesting, but I do see the fellow from Brand X’s point here. It reminds me of a somewhat tipsy argument I had with a fellow reporter friend last night: He asserted that a McCain presidency, while “fun to cover,” would be bad for the country — not because of judges, or taxes, or really any specific policy, but rather because McCain would spend too much time talking to the press. Some context: We had decamped to cocktails fresh off of Scott McClellan’s surreal and sort of stupid book reading. So, yeah, in wake of one of the most deceitful and closed mouthed administrations of all time, my friend thinks McCain’s accessibility is, in and of itself, a bad thing. His reasoning: McCain would basically do nothing BUT talk to the press. Interrupted with bouts of bad decisions. Everything would get processed and Salter and Schmidt would get tangled in lengthy email exchanges (or not). But because McCain is so impulsive, the really BIG decisions might happen without any discussion at all. With the press or anyone. Basically, it would be like a long press conference punctuated by occasional bombings of Iran.
I’ll give my friend credit for an original critique of the McCain-media nexus, though I’m not sure I’m convinced that his accessibility could be a causal factor for bad policy… Anyway… tequila and absinthe. Somehow it works.