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Daily Digest: Pioneering Pushback by Proxy

BY Nancy Scola | Tuesday, September 16 2008

The Web on the Candidates

  • MoveOn Points Facebook Ads to Sympathetic Others: The Wall Street Journal's Emily Steel highlights a fascinating example of a seemingly new online tactic we focused on yesterday when it came to DNC's new "Count the Lies" compendium. Let's call it pushback by proxy. Rather than, for example, going after Sarah Palin directly, MoveOn is running Facebook ads that instead highlight Time Magazine's Joe Klein's criticisms of her. No notice is given of who's footing the bill. As far as web ethics go, it's legit: there's nothing stopping anyone from linking to what's otherwise public content. As far as campaign advertisement goes, it hops the bar there to: the Facebook ads are so small that they fall beneath the standard for "stand by your ad" rules. The Associated Press, one of the sources tapped by MoveOn, seems a bit befuddled: "We thought we'd seen the full gamut of creative ways people have found for calling attention to online content they want others to see." Not by a long shot, my friend. Not by a long shot. #

  • Design for Obama: "How can graphic designers best support Barack Obama?" That question was the inspiration for a new project that aims to mine the talent of the more artistically-gifted Obama fans among us. The big idea, says the organizers, is to use "web-powered grass roots organizing that has already revolutionized campaigning" to create pro-Obama art work. Think posters can't have an impact? Street artist Shepard Fairey's "HOPE" illustration by has to be the iconic image of the Obama campaign. And reaching back into the archives a bit, the spontaneous production of political prints in 1968 Paris helped to define that revolutionary year. So, yeah, there's evidence that silk screened doodles can matter. The highest-scored posters on the Design for Obama site will be made freely available for reprinting. (Thanks Jay Rosen) #

  • Twittering the Debates: Next Friday kicks off the start of the McCain-Obama debates, and Current TV will be trying out a new way of framing the match-ups: overlaying Twitter traffic over the feed. No word on whose tweets will be highlighted. But Current TV is perhaps best known for being co-founded by Al Gore -- a guy who, you might remember, was hammered for audibly sighing during his 2000 debates with George Bush. Might be worth keeping an eye out for some colorful commentary from @algore. #

  • McCain's BlackBerry: This is breaking as we go to, um, "print," but it's worth a mention. McCain policy advisor Douglas Holtz-Eakin tried making the case this morning that McCain's long-time service on the Senate Commerce Committee gives him tech cred. "He did this," said Holtz-Eakin, holding up his BlackBerry. The "John McCain invented the BlackBerry" joke writes itself, but we're not going to make it. We've argued in the past that it's only sensible for McCain to aggressively tout his long committee record when it comes to technology. Worth watching: if the press has as much fun with McCain's Blackberry argument as they did with Gore's similar one concerning the Internet. #

  • The Left's Infrastructure: With election day right around the corner, it's easy to slip into short sightedness on how the right and left are faring online. But no matter who wins more votes at the ballot box come November, the right is behind when it comes to movement-driving institution building, writes the Next Right's Jon Henke. Citing organizations and institutions from MoveOn to the Center for American Progress to the progressive blogosphere, Jon writes that "the Left has taken their existing coalition and grassroots-based infrastructure, and combined it with this new internet-based Progressive Infrastructure to move messaging, mobilization and money into more effective channels." Commenter Darvin Dowdy boils down the conservative complaint: "We bring a pocket-knife to a gun fight." #

  • People-Powered Palin: Here's one believer on the power of technology to shape politics. The self-styled "First Dude" Todd Palin when asked by Fox News about how his wife's selection as McCain's running mate came to pass: "You know, there are some Web sites out there that have been pushing it pretty hard. And so have been instrumental on the final decision, I think." #

The Candidates on the Web

  • A Palin Bio! We Had Doubts This Day Would Come: Oh, Margaret Mead, you were right; "never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world" indeed! Since the announcement of Palin as McCain's running mate advocating for the McCain camp to put up a biography for her on And here, finally, it is. Sure, it's just a slightly fleshed-out version of her gubernatorial bio minus an "Iron Dog" reference or two, but at least it's a stab at defining their candidate online. #

In Case You Missed It...

Steve Garfield asks if CNN should provide as much credit to independent YouTubers as it does to NBC News.

Justin Oberman reports back from a TechCrunch 50 event on a new company that hopes to bring the power of social networking to bear on political campaigning.

Micah Sifry, well, um, I'm gonna to leave it to Micah to tease his own post: "This video of Ralph Nader in a soliloquy with a parrot is just too good to pass up."