You would think that, following the notorious e-mail escapades of page-pawing Congress-creep Mark Foley (a scandal which featured our all-time favorite non-carpentry-related use of the phrase “get a ruler and measure it for me”), Republicans would be at least slightly circumspect when using (and abusing) these newfangled intertube technologies.
But, with the national GOP currently down in the dumps and searching desperately for relevance, the temptation for Republicans to embrace cred-enhancing cyber-toys like YouTube and Twitter is strong indeed. Of course, just because you can use a hip micro-blogging application doesn’t mean that you should—a painful lesson that Virginia Republicans have learned more than once over the last few weeks.
The first big online blooper came from the office of U.S. Rep. Eric Cantor, in the form of a profanity-laced YouTube video sent out by Cantor spokesperson Brad Dayspring. Seems that a reporter had e-mailed asking for comment on some anti-Cantor ads currently being funded by AFSCME, the public workers union, and Dayspring decided that it would be a brilliant idea to send out an f-bomb-laden parody video in response.
Now don’t get us wrong—we find the video, which pairs a ’70s-era AFSCME promotional spot with a new, “Sopranos”-inspired voiceover, freakin’ hilarious. But considering that Cantor is a bit of an anti-obscenity crusader (he was a strong supporter of the Broadcast Decency Enforcement Act, and declared on the House floor that “the use of obscenity…should not and cannot be tolerated”), it probably wasn’t the brightest idea for Dayspring to release a streaming pile of digital expletives under his boss’s name.
Not to be outdone, though, Cantor himself followed up this YouTube fiasco with…yet another YouTube fiasco! Not a week after Dayspring’s dunderheaded data dump, Cantor released a video celebrating the House Republicans’ unanimous anti-stimulus vote, with lots of floaty words zipping around to the tune of Aerosmith’s “Back in the Saddle Again.” The only problem? Nobody bothered to tell Aerosmith, who promptly instructed their copyright lawyers to yank the saddle right out from under Cantor’s triumphalist keister.
But all of this pales in comparison to the massive techno-trouble caused by Jeff Frederick, Virginia’s Republican Party Chairman, through a truly shameful act of premature Twittering.
Seems that Frederick, who loves online networking so much that he started his own elephants-only Facebook clone, RPV Network, just couldn’t keep his itchy thumbs off his Blackberry keyboard, no matter how hard he tried. After finding out that Virginia Senator Ralph Northam, a Democrat, was considering voting with Senate Republicans, Frederick immediately sent out a Twitter message proclaiming “one dem is either switching or leaving the dem caucus. Negotiations for power sharing underway.” The all-too-predictable result? The Democrats, who currently hold the majority, heard about the message, shut down the session, and beat Northam like a red-headed stepchild until he changed his mind.
Brilliant work, Mr. Frederick! It’s exactly that sort of forward-looking, bleeding-edge, 21st-century interactive idiocy that is sure to inspire the next generation of tech-savvy voters… to become Democrats.