While the mainstream media deconstructs President Obama's every public utterance about health-care reform—and there is no shortage of material—another front is opening up in the increasingly nasty debate over health care and public policy. The conflict is quietly building between two purpose-built Web sites run by the respective sides.
Obama's, which launched last month, has just begun to gain a critical mass of user-generated content. Called "Health Care Stories for America," it features an interactive Google map that pinpoints a few hundred personal stories about experiences with the American health-care system from across the country, and allows users to search by zipcode to see stories near them. Browsing the "recent stories" is a relatively apolitical exercise in heartbreak: Users have filled out paragraphs about a father lost to HMO coverage-denial, a sister suffering from a ski accident; a small-business employee with Hepatitis C. You can share your own story, tweet others, or publish one to Facebook; you can also donate money to Obama's cause.
The Republican response, called the Barack Obama Experiment, is a kind of video-blog that aims to make readers "nervous" about the Obama plan, according to Politico. The title of the site comes from a memo by an RNC consultant who has been advising party leaders on how to slow down the White House's march toward reform, including the controversial "public option" where the government would compete with private insurance companies.
The site, sparse and basic and without any of the flash of Obama's expert Web projects, acts as a cache of YouTube videos of party chairman Michael Steele's appearances on television, with a smattering of commercials. To be exact: two Steele videos and one commercial. Yes, there are only three videos on the site, which was launched four days ago, and doesn't look as if it's been updated since.
Should Republicans want to develop any viral defenses against Obama's online health-care onslaught, they'll have to do better than this—though they do list an interesting graphic that shows their interpretation of a government-run health care provider (below).