I was reading a RedState post yesterday. Mike Krempasky had vented some frustration at the fact that the GOP’s online efforts in the realm of fundraising were fairly unimpressive. I replied to the post and remarked that the RNC had specifically directed us to remove functionality because people were posting comments that were off message.
I had no idea that would get picked up the way it has. The larger point of my post – the RNC does have people who get this, but they have to change a lot of minds to get it done – was completely lost in this. Instead, people used that comment to support some of the strangest conclusions I could possibly imagine.
Matt Stoller claims my comments about a MySpace functionality and online fundraising somehow means the folks at GOP.com don’t like Red State because Red State is racist. The post indicates two things to me. First, Matt Stoller is taking some serious medication and his doctors may want to cut back the dosage. Seriously, if you know his physicians, slip them a note. Second, the left is desperate to make slanderous charges against the right and will take any leap of logic to make that happen.
Atrios and Kos picked it up as well. I read those guys to keep in touch with the latest ridiculous charges of the left. I never expected to see my name there.
Then a friend sent a link to the Hotline’s blog. This one surprised me most of all. It also disappointed me the most. They pick up Stoller’s ridiculous racism claim, but don’t address that at all. Instead they claim that my comment was “his former boss, Ken Mehlman, could not tolerate even a hint of dissent from The Message or bear to relinquish control over any lever of political power.”
This was absolutely not the point. I have nothing but respect for Ken. I enjoyed working for him for nearly two years and find him to be anything but a control freak or a person who would quash dissent. That’s not his style.
My issue is with the GOP communications machine. Their issue isn’t dissent, it’s semantics.
The site was pulled after the AP wrote a story pointing out that posters were saying “private” when the President said “personal”. First, it’s a sad commentary on the media when that rises to the level of a wire service article. Second, it’s pathetic that people paid to do communications can’t explain to the press that we don’t hand out talking points to every voter. So yes, as a matter of fact, the average voter may occasionally use different words than the President, but they are making the same point – Social Security is in crisis and demands action.
Unfortunately, that ridiculous article led us to remove the testimonials. That was one decision I could not support. My comment about the RNC was about the semantic problem and message cohesion. The Social Security site was pulled because of semantics, not dissent.
Believe it or not, removing comments that are outright disagreement with the party line is easy to defend. You can argue that donors entrust the RNC with their money to convey the party position. The party’s site should clearly advocate the party line, and should not use donor dollars to pay for a platform for dissent.
I don’t agree with that, but I can make the argument.
What I had issue with, and still have issue with, is the belief you must silence supporters who do not have the latest poll tested phrases in front of them when they write a comment. These are people who speak in support of the President and his ideas, but they are silenced because of their choice of words.
My point to Krempasky remains the same. There are people within the RNC who are trying to affect change. I sincerely hope they are able to do so.
Unfortunately, it’s not clear that this is happening.
I noticed a recent e-mail from the Party asking me to “Share Your Thoughts” about Lincoln’s Legacy and the Republican Party. The e-mail included a form for me to submit my thoughts, but did not include a site where I could read what others wrote. This is the type of ridiculous web effort put forward by the Communications machine, not the eCampaign.
The machine asks for opinions, but does not allow even the favorable messages to see the light of day.
That’s a recipe for disaster. If you silence your supporters because they use the “wrong” words, they won’t be your supporters for long.
UPDATE: I left a comment on the Hotline blog in response to their ridiculous post. Apparently, however, they don’t allow direct access to comments. My comment was apparently submitted into some sort of queue and has not yet been displayed on the site. It’s ironic that they would attack Ken for not allowing real-time discussion, when they don’t either.
UPDATE 2: They apparently approved the comment. It’s there now with a link to this post. I was also contacted by the Hotline and provided a reply. The gist of that reply (if not almost the entire reply) is here.