Ideally, a presidential campaign would inspire supporters to defend the candidate’s ideas, promote his/her agenda, and advance his/her policies. B
August 7, 2008

Ideally, a presidential campaign would inspire supporters to defend the candidate’s ideas, promote his/her agenda, and advance his/her policies.

But the McCain campaign has already been suffering from an “enthusiasm gap,” so it appears his supporters need a little incentive to say nice things about the presumptive Republican nominee.

On McCain’s Web site, visitors are invited to “Spread the Word” about the presumptive Republican nominee by sending campaign-supplied comments to blogs and Web sites under the visitor’s screen name. The site offers sample comments (”John McCain has a comprehensive economic plan . . .”) and a list of dozens of suggested destinations, conveniently broken down into “conservative,” “liberal,” “moderate” and “other” categories. Just cut and paste. [...]

People who sign up for McCain’s program receive reward points each time they place a favorable comment on one of the listed Web sites (subject to verification by McCain’s webmasters). The points can be traded for prizes, such as books autographed by McCain, preferred seating at campaign events, even a ride with the candidate on his bus, known as the Straight Talk Express, according to campaign spokesman Brian Rogers.

Crooks & Liars, by the way, is on the list of targeted sites.

It appears McCain hasn’t actually earned actual grassroots support, but he’s certainly willing to buy it, and catapult the propaganda online.

The WaPo noted why these tactics might sound familiar: “[D]issidents alleged earlier this year that the Chinese government has paid Chinese citizens token sums for each favorable comment about government policies they post in chat rooms and on blogs.”

Yes, let’s pause to appreciate the ways in which the McCain campaign has borrowed the tactics of an authoritarian communist regime.

In some ways, I’m a little surprised conservatives aren’t more insulted by this. The McCain campaign assumes a) his supporters need prize incentives to say nice things about him; and b) these same supporters aren’t quite smart enough to come up with their own ideas, and need to copy and paste pre-approved comments that the campaign has come up with for them.

D-Day’s take was spot-on:

This is just an evolution of the Bush Administration paying Armstrong Williams and Maggie Gallagher to carry water for their policies. It’s wingnut welfare at the micro-level. And it’s kind of sad that you can’t find a conservative who is legitimately excited enough about John McCain to promote him online for free. I think the accurate response to any McCain supporter at this point is “how many buttons did you just win for that comment?”

Matt Ortega also had a great line: “Commanding an army of spammers on the internet: now that’s leadership you can believe in.”

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