Mini Mike and the New GOP.com
Almost two weeks ago, the GOP and its embattled pitch man Michael Steele unveiled a sleek new website for the Republican National Committee – www.gop.com – complete with a Mini Mike casually strolling across your monitor, waving his arms and touting the high-tech, interactive features of the site and promising, in his charismatic tone and abundant use of superlatives, not just a new website, but a new party.
What followed was of surprise to no one. Left-leaning pundits all over the country dropped what they were doing, grabbed their geeky IT friends and huddled together around keyboards and monitors, ready to begin the assault.
The resulting “analysis” was largely exaggeration and condescension as they “welcomed the GOP into 2007,” criticized Steele himself, or mocked the simplistic codes used – letting everyone know the left has more geeks with time on their hands.
The Washington Post’s Stephen Stromberg wrote in his online column PostPartisan —
“…the slick presentation doesn’t make up for his [Steele’s] cluelessness.”
A writer for the Huffington Post commented —
“What the Republican National Committee debuted today is slick, but it’s years behind the times…”
Some of the criticism cannot be disputed – gaffes that go well beyond the typical hiccups of a new website —
- Steele initially named his blog on GOP.com “What Up.” That lasted all of a day before the negative feedback led him to rename it “Change the Game.”
- Posting the administrator passwords on the website (Not only a bad idea, but it made the whole crew look like a bunch of monkeys fisting a keyboard.)
- The list of GOP accomplishments that ended in 2004 (Really? A little humility is good, but…)
- The link to the Future Leaders section that went to a blank page (Is this some sort of “virtual suicide” attempt by the GOP?
Those blunders aside, I decided to check it out for myself – to see just how bad (or not) it is.
My first experience with the New GOP.com was rather reminiscent of a recent trip to the electronics store, where I was talked into buying a new laptop by a slick salesman who gestured much like Steele as he talked about the Quad Core Processor, 500+ MB of RAM, and so forth. Mini Mike presents left-leaning comedians like Jon Stewart with a wealth of material (click on photo to view video clip) –
And if you have nothing to do at the office, you can mess around with the Mini Mike application at www.hammerandsteele.com, placing the moseying Michael Steele on other web pages – just for kicks.
Here’s Michael Steele talking up the GOP website on NewsReal —
The plus of the Mini Mike feature is that you get a good idea of what the site has to offer without clicking around to find out.
The site is riddled with sloppy design problems, but all in all, the concept works. GOP.com offers several ways for conservatives to get involved and a forum for networking, sharing ideas, videos, photos and even a chance to have your own GOP.com-hosted blog. Such offerings are likely to have great appeal to younger conservatives who thrive on the interconnectedness of the social networking age and are looking for their place in the conservative movement.
Certainly, the GOP would have been smarter to work out these kinks before launching the new website, and saving themselves some not-so-minor embarrassment. But in time, I think the site will prove successful in unifying the younger generations of the Republican party – a tactic successfully employed by liberals decades ago to give us today’s Democratic Party.