In times past, the passions of politics led Senators to soaring oratory and physical violence. Rep. Preston Brooks beat Senator Charles Sumner nearly to death with a cane in 1856, to use a rather extreme and notable example, over the latter’s supposedly coarse rejection of slavery and insults towards those who advocated for it. These days, the soaring oratory comes out more like sound bites, and now that Congress has discovered Twitter, even those may disappear. Danny Glover reports from the virtual front of the tweet war between John McCain and Earl Blumenauer:
The Arizona Republican posted his first anti-pork list under the Twitter name @SenJohnMcCain late last week, calling attention to projects like $650,000 for beaver management and $1.7 million for pig odor research. He brought the Top 10 list “back by popular demand” the first two days of this week. The project in the No. 1 slot today: “$951,500 for the Oregon Solar Highway.”
That dishonor didn’t sit well with Democratic Rep. Earl Blumenauer, whose home state stands to benefit from the earmark. Tweeting as @repblumenauer, he mocked McCain.
“McCain wasn’t familiar with a Blackberry [during the 2008 presidential campaign], right?” tweeted Blumenauer, who quickly issued a press release celebrating earmarks for Oregon when the House passed its version of the spending bill last week. “How’s he supposed to understand a solar highway utilizing right-of-way to generate solar power?”
Well, on the argument itself, McCain isn’t supposed to understand it — because it’s not a federal problem in the first place. Oregon can build all of the “solar highways” it wants with its own money, but the people of Minnesota shouldn’t have to pay for it. If the federal government thinks that solar highways are keen ideas, then the DoT should put them up for competitive bids, not earmark the money to specific providers who may or may not have more than a little to do with Blumenauer’s political health.
Beyond the argument itself, though, does anyone else wonder whether Twitter may have jumped the tweet? Blumenauer also used it to call Bobby Jindal “weird” in the response speech last week. If crusty politicians suddenly flood the Twitter zone, maybe it’s nowhere near as cool as its advocates think.
Besides, politicians are already in my pocket too much as it is. I don’t need them in my cell phone.