This is your senator on Twitter

In a column last weekend Matt Bai argued that Capitol Hill’s growing infatuation with the micro-blogging service is the last thing D.C. needs. His analysis in terms of the political culture is persuasive. But poke around on a few politicians’ Twitter pages and there’s a simple reason the trend deserves to be voted down posthaste: Washington’s minute-by-minute musings are, for the most part, epically dull.

mccaskill mccain issa twitterbird palin

A universe more than 140 characters has been typed about the greater Twitter phenomenon. At this late date the triviality of bazillions of “tweets” is no secret. But additionally there’s even something micro-insulting about the daily minutiae dispatched by elected officials. It purports to be about transparency, or even intimacy, but essentially it’s a ceaseless stream of micro-campaigning. Even if it’s utterly uninteresting:

Sen. Chris Dodd:
Holding an Executive Session in the Banking Committee to vote on a few HUD, Treasury, and Export-Import Bank nominations.
7:17 AM Apr 28th from txt

Sen. Chuck Grassley:
4hr healthcare mtg turned into 6 hr mtg. Took up all day. Watch my cable show tonight on mediacom. 630pm CST. U can ask questions.
3:50 PM Apr 29th from txt

Rep. Steve Israel:
Heading to DC. This week’s legislative schedule: hate crimes bill and credit card consumer protections.
12:17 PM Apr 27th from twitterrific

Rep. Darrell Issa:
On the way home to San Diego sunshine (fingers crossed…but we need the rain!)
about 3 hours ago from TweetDeck

As a member of the opposition party, at least Issa is willing to add a tad of zing:
Had fun watching the staff photoshop. Let’s just say Obama could’ve saved us a cool million using that instead of buzzing manhattan in AF1!
2:42 PM Apr 28th from TweetDeck

There is indeed a certain awkwardness to some of it given the pretense of informal and personal. See John McCain, in an oddly self-aggrandizing moment:
Sec. Napolitano confirmed Swine Flu has spread to 4 new states including AZ. I call on the Admin to do more to prevent further outbreaks!
08:42 AM Apr 29

Of course, staffers are probably behind much of the messaging. Though apparently not in Claire McCaskill’s case:
I have strict policy. I write every tweet and tumblr blog. These are my thoughts and my words. Really. For good or for bad……
5:06 AM Apr 28th from web

For good or for bad, or, as Bai noted, for her fast food faves:
I get old style crunchy taco, and a chicken burrito supreme & Diet Coke at Taco Bell. Miss those tostados.
2:06 PM Mar 12th from web

snoopIt seems Twitter functions much more effectively as a portal into the world of celebrity entertainment. There must be a good reason that CNN is locked in a popularity showdown with Ashton Kutcher. Or that Snoop Dogg has 195,862 followers:

been 4 dayz since been of here. Happy 420 ma twizzles may all your smokn dreams come true!! yeezzzziiirr!!
1:25 PM Apr 20th from web

Fa shizzle.

At times Twitter has proven strikingly useful as a tool for disseminating information; its profile shot up per a role in covering major news events such as when terrorists struck in Mumbai and when a jetliner ditched into the Hudson River. As an additional tool for journalists — or for anyone seeking to report or share information quickly — its potential is undeniable.

If you’re at a loss, though, to find much that’s culturally meaningful about the Tweet-geist at this point — I confess that I am, still preferring my short-form poetry on the page or in person — New York Magazine appears eager to help with its freshly posted Twitter Approval Matrix. Apparently not many pols have made the cut. Meanwhile, you’d think that someone commanding as much attention as Sarah Palin — who just jumped into the Twitter fray this week — might give the lot a boost. As of this post, her first six tweets aren’t even interestingly banal enough to quote.

You can find your favorite lawmaker’s latest by way of Tweet Congress.
Don’t all click at once.

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1 comment so far

  1. […] Sotomayor a “reverse racist” and “hack.” Newt is also in on that act, via Twitter. Others are running with “socialist,” thanks to an obviously sinister Norman Thomas […]


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