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Ricochet.com: A 'clever and cunning' new brand of conservatism?

A "fun" and "light-hearted" new website is trying to repackage the Right for the age of Twitter. Will it catch on?

In an effort to make conservative ideas "fun, light-hearted, and accessible," a Reagan speechwriter and a Hollywood producer are launching Ricochet, a new politics website intended to resemble Facebook and Twitter:

Who's behind Ricochet?The driving forces are Peter Robinson, a speechwriter for President Ronald Reagan, and Rob Long, a Hollywood producer most famous for his work on "Cheers." James Poulos, formerly the politics editor at defunct conservative site Culture 11, will be the managing editor. The site is being funded by unidentified private donors.

What's so new about it?The format of the site — it will be "a feed like Facebook or Twitter or Tumbler," says Poulos — and the "clever and cunning" tone of the discourse. Ricochet's handful of podcasts — the only content so far from the nascent site — are "like listening in on a few smart conservative friends having beers," says The Atlantic's Jordan Smith. Essentially, Ricochet is trying to repackage conservatism for the age of Obama.

Who else is on board?The plan is to have about 40 contributors, including Robinson and Long. The list of those already signed up includes names familiar to readers of conservative magazines National Review and The Weekly Standard: Mark Steyn, Victor Hanson Davis, John Yoo, Shelby Steele, and Claire Berlinski. Govs. Mitch Daniels (R-IN) and Haley Barbour (R-MS) have also signed on, and Robinson recruited at least one new voice, Florida trucker Dave Carter.

What does Ricochet tell us about the conservative movement?That it has recovered from its ideological self-doubt following the 2006 and 2008 electoral setbacks, according to the site's creators. Obama's election and first year have really galvanized conservatives, says Poulos, and "the conversation on the right has become more interesting and productive than it was." 

Will Ricochet rally conservatives?There's ample skepticism on both the left and right. Two figures from the 1980s are going to "inject some vibrancy" into conservatism through "a Twitter rip-off"? asks Allison Kilkenny at True/Slant. What's "particularly annoying," says conservative blogger Dan Riehl, is that these conservative "establishment figures" don't think Right-leaning blogs have been having any fun up till now. The site's aims are well and good, says Clark Stooksbury in The American Conservative, but Ricochet won't do much to help conservatives learn from their Bush-era mistakes so they don't, "you know, ruin the country once they take power again."

Sources: The Atlantic, American Conservative, Riehl WorldRicochet, True/Slant

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