Attack of the Fake Personal E-mails

In a campaign full of cheesy new Internet memes—Facebook groups, “candid” campaign videos—the most annoying has to be the faux off-the-cuff e-mail chain. Exhibit A, just sent out today:  

From: Chris Dodd
Sent: Thursday, November 01, 2007 12:29 PM
To: Christopher Beam
Subject: Fw: Re: Update?

Dear Friend—

I only have a few moments on my way back up to New Hampshire.

I asked my Campaign Manager for an update on what we accomplished online during the month of October, and I was so pleased with her response I wanted to make sure you saw the email chain.

[etc., etc.]

Scroll down and you find what you’re supposed to believe is an organic e-mail exchange between Sheryl Cohen, Dodd’s campaign manager, and Tim Tagaris, his Internet communications director. It’s meant to be a glimpse behind the scenes, a secret discussion Dodd decided to let us in on. Here’s the secret: The senator raised a lot of money in October, but he just needs a teensy bit more.

It’s not a bad way to reach supporters. It’s also utterly artless. For starters, it totally abuses the “Fw: Re:” prefix, usually reserved for funny e-mail threads your friends send you. The moment I clicked on it, I knew I’d been had. Plus, who would ever write this sentence in a personal e-mail: “We’re gonna do everything we can to keep growing—something that is made easy as [Dodd] continues to lead on the issues important in this race.” Or maybe that’s the way campaign people actually talk.

Dodd isn’t the first offender, or the worst. Back in September, Barack Obama sent out a mass e-mail with the subject, “Hey,” no doubt sending a million hearts aflutter. Of course, it was just another solicitation. Michelle Obama followed up with a “Re: Hey.” I was hoping she’d accidentally hit “reply all” on some missive meant only for Barack. Wrong again.

These kind of faux-personal notes will probably become standard for online fundraising. But what happens when it expands to texting—which is already happening—and IMs? Someday they’ll pare their solicitation down to a single set of characters: “$?”