- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 18, 2009

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

After the 2004 election, much was made of Joe Trippi, Howard Dean’s campaign manager and Internet guru. Mr. Trippi is credited with using social networking tools to hook up supporters and to drum up excitement and campaign cash for Vermont’s then-little-known former governor.

His book “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised: Democracy, the Internet, and the Overthrow of Everything” capitalized on Mr. Dean’s meteoric yet short-term rise at the hands of a previously competent yet little-known Democrat apparatchik who became an Internet legend for almost getting the dark horse over the primary finish line.

“The Howard Dean campaign was a dot-com miracle,” Mr. Trippi now tells audiences for a handsome price.

But Mr. Dean’s story was also the ultimate dot-com crash: “And we’re going to South Dakota and Oregon and Washington and Michigan, and then we’re going to Washington, D.C., to take back the White House! Yeeeah!!!”

The “Dean scream” lives in infamy on YouTube. Live by the Internet, die by the Internet.

Now Mr. Trippi gets paid a lot of money to tell clients something that millions have known since the mid-1990s: The Internet is a big, big deal.

The last election cycle bore more online fruit for Democrats.

“Obama is really Howard Dean 2.0 when it comes to online fundraising,” said Phil Tajitsu Nash, who runs Campaign Advantage, a company that makes Web sites and develops Internet strategies for candidates.

So it’s understandable that Republicans are green with envy and scratching their heads wondering why the Internet works for Democrats but doesn’t work for them. The simple answer:

There is no technology that can help overcome the left’s current online dominance.

There is no wizard in Silicon Valley who can make things better.

There is no Joe Trippi who can take an obscure Republican and push him to victory using online tools past, present and future.

Facebook won’t do it. Twitter won’t do it. Countering Soros and MoveOn .org won’t do it. And mimicking Kos and Arianna won’t do it.

Sorry, Republicans, there is no magic Internet button.

The Democratic Party resonates on the Internet because it resonates in pop culture. The Democratic Party resonates in pop culture because it has been committed to dominating it for over a generation.

Democrats are celebrities, rock stars, magazine covers and stadium concerts. Republicans are a small list of famous people who have to make public excuses for their affiliation.

Democrats throw parties, get models to show up, and Red Bull and Stoli pick up the tab. Republicans feature a no-host bar hoping an astronaut from the Mercury mission stops by.

Democrats pull off a star-studded, entertainment-laden Obama acceptance speech at Invesco Field. Republicans get a black dude to wear red, white and blue and perform a 1985-era patriotic rap song dressed as Uncle Sam.

The spectacular Will.I.Am song and video, “Yes We Can,” could not be duplicated by Republicans if T. Boone Pickens airdropped his fortune on the RNC headquarters.

The Mac versus PC advertising campaign best sums up the stark divide. Only it’s much worse.

What the Republican Party needs to do now is figure out how to make up for 40 years of ignoring the net effect of film, television and music, and the youth culture that goes along with it. When will the people who make the big decisions and write the big checks realize the AM radio band is not enough?

As I’ve written and stated many times, college Republicans and other young conservative activists need to go Hollywood - in mind, spirit and even in location.

Retiring military personnel hot off of war duty need to head west to secure the Los Angeles front.

Producing screenplays - not legislation - is the answer. Performing songs - not whining - is the plan.

Simultaneously, closet conservatives in Hollywood need to come out and run for office. They have the requisite communication skills to compete in the Obama age.

The conservative movement has the best product to sell in the history of the world: freedom. The side that promotes freedom has the best writers. It has the best think tanks. Its Web sites have all the right social networking tools, and there’s no shortage of 527s on its side, either.

And while our politicians are imperfect, they are manifestly less corrupt then their Democratic Party peers, and at least stand for something other than obstinate oppositionism.

Yet we are still deep in a hole and digging deeper.

If you are a bigwig in the movement and have begun paying a guy a lot of money to help you figure out the Internet, stop now.

The Joe Trippi of the Republican Party is the person who can make it cool to be a conservative. And only when that happens will Americans begin to start pressing the magic Internet button for our side.

Andrew Breitbart is the founder of the news Web site breitbart.com and is co-author of “Hollywood Interrupted: Insanity Chic in Babylon - the Case Against Celebrity.”

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