Layout: clean and open. Probably could stand to be tightened a bit - there's a lot of scrolling to check out the whole site. Perhaps a sidebar to give readers a quick overview of who is posting as soon as they get to the site? As mentioned at yesterday's event, not all of the features are up and running yet. I'll be particularly interested in listening to their podcast.
Also - no date or time stamp appears on the front page along with the "Recent Reports" which seems odd. And perhaps the most obviously void: what, no links to other like minded sites or worthy-opponents? No blogroll? Where's the love, guys?
Content: Here's the point and the goal, according to the publishers.
Given the buzz surrounding a site promising candor - even against its own - just a few weeks before the election, and given his recent and ongoing roasting of Dem nominee Phil Angelides, reading Gary South's report first seemed the obvious choice.
South argues that Phil has yet to tell voters who he is, which must happen before his ideas will sell:
But voters often sing the same refrain in high-profile elections. It’s axiomatic that voters don’t really care about a candidate’s ideas if they have no idea who you are. After all, minor-party candidates often espouse nifty, outside-the-box proposals, yet receive only miniscule support. That’s largely because they rarely have the resources to tell voters who they are and why they are qualified for the office they’re seeking.I suppose that's technically true, though minor-party candidates lack the resources to tell voters anything from ideas to identity. It's more than a boxers-or-briefs issue of getting to know one.
South makes a good point, though, in comparing Phil to South's own winning pony, Gray Davis, who consistently reminded voters of his personal accomplishments (veteran, prior officeholder, chief-of-staff) as he beat down too richer-than-god opponents in 1998. South also correctly says that Phil's story isn't quite as inspiring as Mr. Olympia's (okay, his isn't "inspiring" so much as famous) or Dianne Feinstein's - to say nothing of Jackie Speier's (speaking of which, with that story, why didn't she win? Why didn't she run for Governor? Sorry, that's another post).
It couldn't hurt to remind voters that Angelides is the son of non-English speaking immigrants. Yet Schwarzenegger has that whole "I'm an immigrant myself" thing. Angelides enjoyed a middle class upbringing and his parents still sent him to Harvard. But did you know Schwarzenegger was the Terminator?
Yes, Angelides has some personal anecdotes that could put him in a better light and perhaps actually begin to place him on a level where voters would legitimately compare him to Schwarzenegger. It would help if people could ID the field in more balanced terms than "the Terminator and that Democratic guy," which is what I'm guessing most people have to say about Phil (or worse, "the Terminator and that guy who wants to raise taxes.")
Perhaps I'm just an example of Angelides's failings: even knowing the guy, I can't find a way to think of his personal background in a way that reduces the discussion to policy-only terms - which is the only way Phil wins because regardless of his immigrant parents or average upbringing, he's facing a megastar and a vastly improved economy. Yet, I have a feeling the Angelides campaign decided to work with what they got and what they don't got: ideas over personality, policy over film production. Comparing Angelides's strategies with Gray Davis's vastly underestimates what Angelides is up against. Harman and Checchi had money - but they didn't an inexhaustible supply of celebrity.
Initial review: I give the site a B for style and a A- for content (clearly it's given me something to think/write about, but I should give it a more thorough review before I max out the alphabet).
Update: Also missing from a site that likely hopes to be "THE" new forum for robust, scrappy debate - a recent comments roll or indicator in the (missing) sidebar.