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The bumpy relaunch of GOP.com
Jokes fly about the Republican National Committee's new website, but will the GOP get the last laugh?

"Note to the RNC: you're trying way too hard," said Steve Benen in Washington Monthly. The party's relaunched website, GOP.com, is an embarrassing monument to phony hipness and artificial diversity -- RNC Chairman Michael Steele's first blog entry ran under the headline, "What up?" And there were glitches galore -- including a page on the party's accomplishments that didn't list a thing after 2004, and a page on "future leaders" of the party that was "literally blank."

You're missing the potential of GOP.com, said James Richardson in RedState. The website -- part of Steele's ongoing rebranding campaign -- is a social networking platform for conservative activists that could inject new energy and capabilities into Republican grassroots efforst. The idea is to tap into "the organic activism that gave way to Tea Parties across the nation," and magnify it.

It doesn't exactly project the image that the GOP is on the cutting edge of online communication, said Marc Ambinder in The Atlantic, when it hosts a relaunch kick-off conference call when the website is down. And how real is the diversity GOP.com wants to project when one of the African Americans on its "Heroes" page -- baseball great Jackie Robinson -- quit the party over its views on race? And Steele's "What up?" attempt to be hip was a disaster -- it actually started with the sentence, "the Internet has been around for a while now." 

"Sure, Republicans always look absurd when they try to be 'hip,'" said Lydia DePillis in The New Republic. But "in one very important way, the new site is a huge step for the GOP's tech strategy: they have finally provided a framework for people to connect" the way Democratic organizers did through My.barackobama.com. "Laugh all you want" -- just don't say the Republicans haven't learned something.

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