Back to school

BACK TO SCHOOL…. The good news for the GOP is that the College Republican National Committee, a long-time training ground for future party activists like Karl Rove and Lee Atwater, has a few ideas about getting the party back on track. The bad news is, the ideas need some work.

Slate‘s Lydia DePillis covered this year’s convention in D.C. and found one of the key priorities that generated a lot of discussion was the need to expand Republican diversity. This may prove tricky for the party activists — College Republicans have a seven-person national leadership team, consisting of seven white guys.

And then there was yet another pitch for the Republicans’ Innovation Agenda.

The group is also working on its technological chops, which outgoing president Charlie Smith told me should be the CNRC’s No.1 priority going forward. David All, of the eponymous conservative media consulting group, tried to persuade a less-than-capacity crowd that Twitter was the future. “That’s the thing that we need to embrace and evangelize every single day,” he said. “We have a massive opportunity to grow the pie of conservatism because of the quickness of Twitter and because everyone is jumping on board.”

When he asked who was on Twitter, about half those assembled raised their hands. Only a couple — including Charlie Smith — used the #crnc tag. One member piped up skeptically: “What is Twitter? I don’t get it, I use it kind of begrudgingly.”

This keeps coming up, and it gets a little more embarrassing each time. A month ago, Rep. Pat McHenry (R-N.C.) said Twitter will be a key part of Republicans “updating” their “communications strategy.” Not long before that, the former chairman of the RNC said the GOP will mount a comeback “with the Twittering.”

It’s all very silly. For one thing, party leaders continue to confuse the technology with the substance behind it. College Republicans can have a Twitter account with plenty of followers, but if the group doesn’t have a compelling message to share, it won’t make any difference. It’s not the tool, it’s what you do with it.

For another, party leaders who already embrace Twitter seem to be extraordinarily bad at it. Just ask Chuck Grassley, Newt Gingrich, Mark Shurtleff, Pete Hoekstra, Jeff Frederick, and Jim Tedisco.