Thursday, June 21, 2007


To both protect oneself and to target one's opponent, David All has proposed "five essential tips for the YouTube campaign trail." His suggestions are groundbreaking and thoughtful, but I'd like to add one more, albeit unrelated to YouTube: Develop software to download your opponent's Web site once a day. You need not download the whole site, but, like a good backup program, only the pages that have changed since the last download.

Savvy readers will point out that Google already caches pages for free. In fact, Google's cache was the source of this gotcha blog post by the Politico's Ben Smith. This method is fine if you know that a change occurred within the past week or so, but if you don't, your only other option is the Wayback Machine, which archives entire sites, but only twice a year.

Hence the aforementioned software. As Ryan Lizza of the New Republic reported yesterday, a rival campaign of Bill Richardson's dug back a month and a half to document a change in the governor's seven-part plan for Iraq. In short, as of May 12, Richardson explicitly supported the Feingold-Reid amendment, which would cut off funds for the war next March. Today, the same page has been scrubbed of such support.

After-the-fact editing, whether of a Web page, a profile of oneself or even the congressional record, is all-too-common. What's new is the increasingly comprehensive ability to play gotcha! This is not a necessarily healthy development—such microscopic scrutiny promotes perfunctory rather than spontaneous campaigning—but it's a fait accompli.