Web-Wise Political `Netizens' Anticipate Rise of On-Line JFK
Harper, Jennifer, The Washington Times (Washington, DC)
The search is on. Somewhere, there's a canny hunk of political horseflesh who can manipulate the World Wide Web the way John F. Kennedy worked television.
"Who's going to be the JFK of the Internet? Who will master the medium first?" asked Phil Noble, publisher of Politics Online. The e-mail journal geared to candidates and their handlers yesterday released an analysis of on-line politics, selecting its six top Web sites of 1997.
So far, according to the survey, the Republicans seem to rule the cyber roost.
The Republican National Committee was voted best all-around party Web site, while House Republican Whip Tom DeLay of Texas garnered the nod for having the best congressional site. New Jersey Gov. Christine Todd Whitman, a Republican, had the best campaign site of the year.
By contrast, "the Democratic National Committee Web site needs updating in every part of its realm," Mr. Noble said.
Also honored yesterday were the Web sites for the British Labor Party, the Federal Election Commission, and Cloakroom, which specializes in political insider's chitchat.
Meanwhile, the Digital Age in American politics has dawned. In the past year, lawmakers have scrambled onto the Internet to boost their profiles among politically active "netizens." Almost all 100 senators are now on line, and 330 House members have Web sites.
There are so many on-line political sites, in fact, that Oregon-based Vote Smart, a bipartisan nonprofit research group, offers a 350-page "yellow pages" to keep track of them all.
"This is the decisive year for the Internet and politics," Mr. Noble predicted. "Elections, even if only a few, will be won or lost because of what politicians do or don't do on the Internet. …