With RNC chairman Michael Steele already a laughingstock inside the Beltway, he seems determined to cement that reputation nationwide. Techies will roll their eyes over a proposal Steele sent out for a new GOP website.
It's understandable that the Republicans want to get hip to this Internet thing. It's universally acknowledged that Barack Obama's social-network-savvy Web effort first steamrollered Hillary Clinton's formidable but old-school political operation, then sledgehammered late Twitter adopter John McCain in the general election. Even now, anyone even tangentially involved in the campaign is claiming to be the Web guru who got Obama elected.
The GOP's web aspirations are as ludicrously ambitious as they are maddeningly vague.
Chairman Steele made his tech priorities clear... "bottom line is if we haven't done it — let's do it. If we haven't thought of it — think of it. If it hasn't been tried — why not? If it's going to be 'outside the box' — then not only keep it outside the box, but take it to someplace the box hasn't even reached yet.
In fairness, someone probably once told Steele that people who live in urban-surburban hip-hop settings talk crap like that. But if Steele wants to catch up to the Democrats' online efforts, he'll have to do better than the risible request for proposal he sent out. Some highlights from the document's hopelessly vague and self-contradictory requirements:
Integrate outside products through common API's, widgets, or iframes (examples: Kimbia fundraising, Voter Vault, Widgetbox, Ning).
Flash interfaces can often make mundane tasks exciting, and having Flash developers who understand user behavior will make the site more user-friendly.
No limitations on design; the RNC will be in on the entire process and will ensure everything is to our exact specifications.
Oh, and did the RNC mention they want the website within 45 days, on a fixed budget? Dale Franks at The Next Right calls the GOP operatives who put the proposal out "clueless losers." That's being kind. The last thing any designer wants is a client who's "in on the entire process," throwing out buzzwords they read in some two-year-old article about the Web clipped from a newspaper. The full proposal: