October 11, 2004
Most of the Web-savvy population probably got a good chuckle during Friday night's presidential debate, when President George W. Bush referred to the "Internets" instead of its proper usage as a singular noun. Coming just days after Vice President Dick Cheney goofed by sending folks over to FactCheck.com instead of FactCheck.org during his own debate, one may wonder if the Republican National Party even understands the online world.
Trust me. It does. When the party launched an affiliate program through ValueClick (Nasdaq: VCLK ) to help tap the Internet for campaign contributions, it was a brilliant way to capitalize on the viral nature of the empowered webmaster. Just as Howard Dean grew to become the Democratic front-runner by relying on the wired world of blogs to draw support, the Internet looks as if it will play a vital role for both camps in this tight presidential election.
It doesn't matter where your political affiliations lie. Cheney and John Edwards already had a battle of words over eBay (Nasdaq: EBAY ) and its role in the country's economy. One of this year's most popular political parodies didn't come from the sketch artists at Saturday Night Live or the edgy wit of The Daily Show. It came from the JibJab.com brothers.
What does this mean? Does this mean that such Internet giants as Yahoo! (Nasdaq: YHOO ) and Google (Nasdaq: GOOG ) are wielding more political power than the major networks and Time Warner's (NYSE: TWX ) CNN? Perhaps, though Time Warner will always have CNN.com, too.
Both parties realize that campaign-trail rhetoric may be good for a sound bite here and there, but herding potential voters to their sites produces a captive audience and a forum to fully dissect their rival's shortcomings while fleshing out their platforms.
So maybe we can learn to forgive Bush's "Internets" slip. It's such a powerful force this year that it almost feels plural. Perhaps?
Do you consider yourself a liberal Fool? A conservative Fool? Yes, we have plenty of both and active forums for these and other political affiliations. So how do you think that this election will turn out? What is the key to winning it all next month? All this and more -- in the Current Events discussion board. Only on Fool.com.
Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz still hasn't made up his mind as to who gets his vote next month, but he will vote. He does not own shares in any companies mentioned in this story.