Fake Twitter Accounts: A Big F***ing Deal

Leave it to Joe Biden.  After a year of contentious debate followed by 36 hours of talking heads trying to make sense of what the health care overhaul means, the Veep’s tidy summary was at once true, painfully obvious, hilarious, and in character with the caricature of Biden as an elder Dan Quayle redux… Which meant that the internet would have a field day with it.

Within hours, the Twitter feed @BigFnDealer was mocking Biden and chronicling the reactions.  This comes just a few months after  Carly Fiorina’s “Demon Sheep” web video spawned @DemonSheep. And @BOTeleprompter has been mocking Biden’s boss just about as long as the President has been in office.  Sarah Palin and Michael Steel have been targeted.

Fake Twitter have been giving alter egos to characters both fictional (@DarthVader) and real (@Michael_Bay) since Twitter launched.  They have generally been a hobby, but as the political examples show, they can also be a way to advance a message in a comic, snarky way.  Because they are generally anonymous, they are tough to engage unless the account owner does something stupid (like trying to claim the actual identity of the person being mocked).

As @BigFnDealer shows, getting in on the ground floor is a necessity – the internet moves fast.  And of course, satire only works as a powerful message advancement tool if it’s good; lame jokes tend to backfire.

But when it works, what better way to needle your opponent than to put words in his or her mouth?

Palin’s next steps

Sarah Palin is stepping out of her shell to appear on SNL this week. This is a critical appearance – not for 2008, which is pretty much decided, but for her future as a Republican leader.

Palin’s selection as McCain’s veep energized the Republican party for a short period of time by signalling that the national ticket was willing to add a candidate who not only identified as a conservative but had governed (and lived) as one, as well. After a primary season where candidates fell all over themselves to quote Ronald Reagan, Palin was different in that she walked the walk. And of course, Republicans were eager to have their views articulated by someone other than an old white guy – just as the Democrats were when they rushed Barack Obama to the national spotlight in 2004.

This weekend, Palin begins the next phase of her political career. If she can hold her own and roll with SNL’s punches, she can earn a position of relevance as a GOP spokesperson and set up a possible 2012 run for the White House.

We’re losing the debates

Sarah Palin and Joe Biden debated last night. Like millions of Americans, I made sure I was in front of a TV to tune into Pitt’s 26-21 upset of No. 10 South Florida.

What made the football game more interesting was that even though I was rooting for Pitt, I didn’t have any idea what either side was going to do – much less what the outcome would be. If you’ve made up your mind on a candidate, chances are the debate won’t change your mind. Worse yet, if you’ve followed the race to this point – and it has been a very long race to this point – you have a good idea of what each veep candidate will say in advance.

Early in the third quarter of the football game, Pitt tried a fake punt. It came from out of nowhere. What would the equivalent of a fake punt be in a Presidential or Vice Presidential debate? Joe Biden calling for free market solutions to the financial crisis? Sarah Palin accepting Hugh Hefner’s offer?

Debates have become microcosms of the campaigns – in other words, scripted personality contests that only happen every four years. And for the campaigns, that’s the right move, because they have such a finite amount of time to discuss issues and ideas. The American people are stuck voting for candidates based on personality rather than ideas.

Debates would be more useful if they were more frequent. In addition to holding a handful of candidates’ debates just before an election, it might be fun to see monthly or weekly debates between conservatives and liberals on various issues. At the risk of dating myself, this worked well about 15 years ago, when Ross Perot and then-thin Vice President Al Gore debated NAFTA on Larry King Live.

I’d like to see an hour long debate between MoveOn.org and the Heritage Foundation about whether we should replace our income tax with a national sales tax. I’d like to see the AFL-CIO debate National Right to Work over the proposal to remove secret ballots from union elections.

This isn’t going to turn our Presidential election into forums of philosophy, but it might help engage people more in the political process. And, let’s be honest, those 24-hour-a-day news channels don’t have enough news as it is. This would help them kill an hour or so a week.

Heard anything about this Sarah Palin chick?

I’ve seen a story or two about Sarah Palin since her national introduction, as Obama’s camp tried to skewer her for everything from her lack of experience (“Where was she Governor? Alaska? That doesn’t count!”) to family issues (“How can she expect to represent real people when she’s trying to balance a family, a career, and a daughter’s unexpected pregnancy?”)

DailyKos takes the taco for criticizing Palin’s handling of Alaska dairy policy. And it was tough to top all the Obamanation minions who have the brass cahones to talk about Palin’s alleged inexperience.

All the drummed-up controversy demonstrates the political left’s understanding that Palin, 44, has the potential to be a strong female voice for conservative ideas for years to come – as a veep candidate in 2008 and as potential Presidential timber in 2012. If she isn’t destroyed, it strips the Democrats of their self-styled monopoly on “change.”

Ward Connerly, Christina Hoff Sommers, Star Parker, and others know it all too well: whenever conservative views are expressed by a constituency the left likes to think they own, the criticism of the messenger becomes especially swift and harsh.

The Right Pick

It’s Getaway Day in Your Nation’s Capitol, and John McCain made sure nothing would get done in any office in this town by announcing Sarah Palin as his Vice Presidential pick. Congratulations to John McCain for getting it right.

A half dozen quick reasons why Sarah Palin is the perfect veep pick for McCain:

1. She updates the Republican Brand. It turns out, there are women in the Republican Party after all. Now, to find a black dude…

2. She underscores McCain’s “maverick” image. Palin has governing experience, but is clearly as far outside of Washington, D.C. as you can get without wearing a lei. The pick came from out of left field as far as many pundits were concerned. The pick hurts efforts to paint McCain as an “insider.”

3. She is guaranteed to draw media interest. Palin’s compelling story (five kids, former fisherman, etc.) will get plenty of press play because she’s the first woman running on a major ticket. (I don’t count Geraldine Ferraro, because the Mondale ticket wasn’t all that serious.)

4. The Democrats can’t attack her biggest weaknesses. They’re already trying, but really, how do the Democrats complain about her being governor for only 2 years? Is that an argument they really want to make?

5. She excites the Republican base. McCain won the Republican nomination by attrition, and was not enjoying much enthusiasm over his campaign 24 hours ago. Every Republican I have talked to over the past eight hours is excited that there is a new, fresh face on the national stage who shares their core values of limited government. This is the same type of energy on the right that motivated the grassroots on the left to push Barack Obama past Hilary Clinton in the primaries. And after a four-year term, who better for a 77-year-old McCain to pass the torch to?

6. Most importantly: out of both major tickets, she would be the best President. She turned down – TURNED DOWN – federal earmarks. She enacted budget reform.

The proof will be in her performance this campaign season, but this is a pretty exciting development for Republicans.

Did race play a role in the Biden pick?

There are many reasons to like Joe Biden on the Democrats’ ticket. But a particular question nags at me:

Would Joe Biden be the nominee if he was black?

Oh, sure, you’d like to say “yes.” You’d like to point to his compelling story, his potential pull in Pennsylvania, his ability to be a savvy political attack dog, and say, “of course, Barack Obama has plenty of reasons to pick Biden.” And that is true.

But look at the “short list” of Vice Presidential contenders: Evan Bayh. Tim Kaine. Before Enquiring minds wanted to know how to sneak out of the Beverly Hilton at 2 a.m., John Edwards. Kathleen Sebelius.

All white.

I’m not saying there’s any funny business going on – at least not overtly. I’m just saying that I heard nothing about Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick – and that one-term as a Massachusetts Governor is enough to put you in a major party’s Veepstakes.

So the question remains: If Joe Biden was black, would he be accepting his party’s nomination for Vice President tonight?