Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Update on "Never Let a Crisis..." Post: A Decent Proposal

    My post on Monday ("Never Let a Crisis...") on David Axelrod's email regarding Barack Obama's speech on the Newtown, CT, massacre has gotten a fair amount of attention over the past two days.  A common response by defenders of Axelrod (and the president by extension) is that the email that linked to the BarackObama.com website blog was not a fund raising email, and that the format of the blog displays those "Donate" buttons regardless of the topic.  While that may be true, it misses the point.  As the folks at Twitchy pointed out:
Notably, Axelrod did not link to the post about the speech at the White House website. Rather, he linked to a post at President Obama’s official campaign site.
     In addition to the the White House website, the speech is on YouTube multiple times and doubtless at other outlets, as well.  Using the campaign website and email list that Team Obama crafted to set fundraising records during the campaign was simply asking for trouble.  Earlier, I linked to a Business Week article that detailed how the campaign lifted the fundraising email to an art form:

One fascination in a presidential race mostly bereft of intrigue was the strange, incessant, and weirdly overfamiliar e-mails that emanated from the Obama campaign... 
But they worked. Most of the $690 million Obama raised online came from fundraising e-mails. During the campaign, Obama’s staff wouldn’t answer questions about them or the alchemy that made them so successful. Now, with the election over, they’re opening the black box...
Writers, analysts, and managers routinely bet on which lines would perform best and worst. “We were so bad at predicting what would win that it only reinforced the need to constantly keep testing,” says Showalter. “Every time something really ugly won, it would shock me: giant-size fonts for links, plain-text links vs. pretty ‘Donate’ buttons.
    This brings me to my proposal.  In my original post, I noted that:
...in fairness that Axelrod might not have intentionally connected his email with the "Donate" buttons that are ever-present on the BarackObama.com website.  But if/when someone realizes the crassness of the current setup, perhaps a link to the Newtown memorials will be forthcoming. 
    So far, Obama for America has not chosen to change its set up or add any links for ways to donate to Newtown-related causes.  But based on the BusinessWeek article above, OFA has enough high-tech savvy to know exactly how much they ended up raising from this email, even if it was unintentional (see graphic from Business Week article to the right.)  Why not make a public statement that those funds will be redirected to some kind of Newtown memorial fund or funds?  There may be some legal technicality with using campaign funds that way, but I am confident that OFA's attorneys could find a way to circumvent any difficulties.

    Not only would this tangibly help people who are facing this devastating tragedy, but it would diffuse the fund-raising accusation.  Personally, I have hoped from the beginning that, as bad as it looked, this was not a conscious effort to capitalize on the circumstances of last Friday.  Redirecting those funds would be a small price for the Obama campaign to pay to show both its heart and wallet are in the right place.

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