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Daily Digest: Call the Plumber, Debate's Still Blocked Up

BY Nancy Scola | Thursday, October 16 2008

The Web on the Candidates

  • Across the Spectrum, Calls for Debate Reform: How often do you think MoveOn's Adam Green and conservative firebrand Grover ("drown it in the bathtub") Norquist are of one mind? Trust me, not that often. But Norquist has just jumped on the bi-partisan Open Debate Coalition train led by Green, Change Congress's Larry Lessig, and others, as Politico's Ben Smith reports. Grover's calling for the Commission on Presidential Debates, the slow-footed spawn of the Democratic and Republican Parties, to be dismantled or fundamentally reworked. In the end, says Grover, the process should be "accountable to one constituency only: the public," not the campaign operations that currently dictate how debates happen in this country. The presidential debates are over for this cycle, but the Coalition is still pushing for the release of debate footage into the public domain -- and for public frustration over the deficiencies of the three debates to be channeled into momentum for change. #

  • "Where'd Alaska Go?": No matter whether the thought of Sarah Palin as the next President of the United States puts a smile on your face or a chill up your spine, you have to admire excellent Flash work where you find it. The new Palin as President site imagines the Alaskan Governor in the Oval Office, and the finely detailed scene contains enough Easter eggs to kill a good chunk of time. Who's behind it? Dunno. But whoever did craft it is promising to keep adding goodies from now until November 4th. New today: a small puddle on the corner of President Palin's desk. Click it, and guess who pulls up outside the West Wing? Not gonna tell, but he was the real star of last night's presidential debate. #

  • First-Hand Campaign Field Notes: OffTheBus has tasked its "grassroots correspondents" with producing field journals from either experiences volunteering for either the Obama or McCain campaigns. The first boots-on-the-ground snapshots are in. Take a look for insight into politicking everywhere from a Perkins restaurant in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania to a pro-democracy Justin Timberlake talk in Las Vegas. #

  • Labor Online: The SEIU HQ down in DC has been busy putting together something of a web all-star team. First the Dodd campaign's Tim Tagaris donned the purple, and now Matt Browner-Hamlin (Dodd campaign, the Senate run of Ted Stevens' opponent in Alaska), Michael Whitney (American Rights at Work, Generation Dean), and Joaquin Guerra (Bill Richardson's campaign) joined up. Having such a strong web shop seems to be paying dividends, at least in the blogosphere. The team has just a new campaign called "Bush and McCain: Where's The Difference?" and put more than a hundred thousand dollars behind it in ad buys through both BlogAds and Common Sense Media. You'll find the ads popping up on blogs today; for example, I just spotted it as an in-line ad over on MyDD. #

  • Search Moves to Center Stage: Speaking of the SEIU's Tim Tagaris, he noted on Twitter last night that he had bought a Google AdSense ad keyed on the term "Joe the Plumber" (the aforementioned star of last night's debate) and was pulling it after getting just under 40,000 impressions. The Washington Post's Peter Whoriskey has a story out about just such campaign search jujitsu. Politicos are working hard to master the fine art of matching their ad buys to the id of the searching public, whether it's pouncing on the sudden celebrity of a Toledo plumber or redirecting the great deal of interest in the "Palin wink" or tying "diabetes" to their candidates health care policy plans. It's even spawned a new profession: campaign search guru. #

The Candidates on the Web

  • Can You Hear Me Now, Senator?: Verizon and AT&T both recently wheeled in portable cell towers to central Arizona's remote Hidden Valley canyon -- which just so happens to be the site of John and Cindy McCain's 15-acre ranch, reports the Washington Post's James V. Grimaldi. The irony here? That as both a presidential candidate and senior member of Senate Commerce Committee, McCain has favored an approach to broadband policy centered on letting the telcos decide when market conditions conspire to make providing connectivity make sense -- which in this case, seems to have included when a U.S. senator and presidential candidate can't get a signal. #

  • Organizing the Country's World's (Electoral) Information: National Journal's Lucas Grindley has both a look at the sticky wicket of converting online savvy into actual votes come Election Day and a related Q&A with Ginny Hunt of Google's Election Program. Ginny announces the moment we've all been waiting for -- the mashing up Google Maps and detailed polling place instructions and information (included what's been produced by the open-format Voting Information Project Nancy Scola profiled here.) It's needed, no doubt; a new Pew report finds that state election websites aren't making the grade, costing local governments up to a hundred bucks per help call when they can least afford it. #

TechCongress and Beyond

  • Time for an Open House Party, Perhaps?: Launched just after the 2004 elections, the Open House Project has come along when from when a Daily Kos diary caught the interest of a leadership staffer on Capitol Hill. OHP's program director John Wonderlich has a run down of what it has accomplished, from the preservation of digital congressional information to the "unqualified victory" of clarifying how Congress can use the web. Naturally, there's more work to be done, and John lays out the road ahead too. #

In Case You Missed It...

Mike Connery digs into the Obama campaign's recent ad buy in Xbox Live games ranging from "Burnout Paradise" to "NBA Live 08." Mike's of the opinion that it's a rather brilliant strategy with a great deal of potential. The gambit, in Mike's words, "shows a cultural fluency with 21st Century American life that most politicians lack" and delivers something to the many millions of American gamers that they don't get in politics: respect.

And Michael Tate suggests that there's some low hanging mobile fruit before John McCain: go the Obama iPhone app one better by building something out for the Google Android mobile platform on the T-Mobile G1.