Team Leaders

As I mentioned yesterday, you can sign up here to become an official GOP Team Leader. And — this is the beauty part — you will then have access to official Republican Talking Points. You’ll receive personal notification of their clumsy astroturf campaigns.

I don’t think the latter will last much longer, incidentally. There are too many bloggers watching out for this now. It’s going to be a lot harder to pull this kind of crap from now on. Which is too bad for the Team Leaders, of course, because getting an astroturf letter published in their local paper was one way they could earn GOPoints, redeemable for actual merchandise.

I kid you not.

75 GOPoints get you a bumper sticker. 140 get you a Team Leader Video. If you reach 350, you can cash ’em in for a 12-pack insulated bag. There are PDA covers, pullovers, caps, t-shirts, all festooned with the Team Leader logo.

So, how much effort must one expend to be eligible for these nifty prizes?

The GOP Team Leader site has a number of ways users can earn points. Following is a summary of the points each action is worth:

Contact the Media: 5 points per media outlet you contact (maximum of 20 points per day)

Publish a Letter to the Editor: 2 points per published letter. This is in addition to the 5 points you get for contacting the media outlet

Contact Your Representative: 5 points per representative you contact (maximum of 20 points per day)

Attend a Team Leader Event: 5 points per event

Report on what you hear on Talk Radio Shows: 5 points per report provided

Convert a member of your team to Team Leader: 10 points per conversion

A member of your team logs in for the first time: 1 point per member

Forward An Email Message to Your Team: 5 points per message forwarded

I’m sure everybody does this to some degree (so spare me that banal observation, okay?). But this whole points-for-prizes scheme really takes it to a whole different level.

* * *

As I was composing this entry, Atrios posted this:

Let me chime in here. Aside from taking an amusing swipe at ‘the other side,’ let me explain why the whole astro-turf issue is a bit more than that. A lot of people have said that all political parties and interest groups regularly issue various “action alerts” including sample letters to send to various people. This is true, but most of the time the “click here to send this form letter under your name” systems are directed not at newspapers for the purposes of publication but for congressional representatives. As such, they are more like signing a petition. I’ve sent a few of those and I’ve never expected the recipients to assume it was a letter written in my own words.

In addition, GOPTeamLeader allows the user to send the identical letter simultaneously to up to 5 media sources – which is a bit indecent.

(Not to mention the points-for-merchandise scheme outlined above.)

But, really, the main issue about this astroturf was that so many editors published it even though it was so obviously a piece of astro-turf. In fact, one editor communicated to one of my readers that they published it knowing full well that it was astroturf “as a courtesy” to their many GOP readers.

Darn that liberal media anyway…