Say “Cheese!”

Speaking of the YouTubeification* of politics, here are two more items. First, someone uploaded to YouTube a ten-second clip of Senator John McCain allegedly napping during last week’s State of the Union address. I thought it showed McCain looking down to read, not sleeping, and according to a New York Times article today, that’s the consensus after a few days discussion among those who discuss such things. The story of the clip’s posting on YouTube had legs and, whether or not it was posted to embarrass McCain and actually captured what it is purported to capture, it signals how the ubiquity of digital cameras and the ease with which video can be posted online are shaping the political discussion.

The second item involves use of digital video and YouTube to affect the legislative process. As reported in The Washington Post, frustrated Democrats in the Virginia General Assembly are recording hearings on controversial bills such as proposals to increase the minimum wage. Last week, after a Republican-controlled subcommittee decided on a voice vote not to bring seven minimum-wage proposals (two sponsored by Republicans) to the full Commerce and Labor Committee, Democrats posted video of the subcommittee hearings on YouTube. The chairman of the House Democratic Caucus is quoted saying “[t]his is an issue of importance to hundreds of thousands of Virginians. Why not have a full and fair hearing?” Republican Vincent F. Callahan, Jr. saw it less charitably: “It’s indicative of a culture of viciousness that is infecting these halls . . . you are going to get shots of someone picking their nose and use it out of context in the fall election.”

*Catch the wave–a Google search for “youtubeification” produced 160 hits; a search for “youtube-ification” produced 269. As we enter the 2008 Presidential campaign season, what’s the over/under on the number of hits for these terms on, say, June 1, 2007, January 1, 2008, and November 1, 2008?

4 Replies to “Say “Cheese!””

  1. jtaich

    I believe that it is not a problem for a government hearing to be accessed by the public through websites such as Youtube. The issues being discussed in these meetings have a significant impact on our lives as citizens of the U.S., and we should be able to witness the process. Obviously, some odd events will take place when the camera is rolling, but this is just a factor that politicians will have to accept. We have elected these individuals to represent our opinions and we should be able to see if they are trying to shape our country in the way we thought they would.

  2. brendanc

    Wow, is it that bad that we actually know what’s going on?? I believe it is our right to know what politicians are actually doing behind closed doors. Coverage of hearings will help to ensure that politicians are held to a higher standard. Having hearings on tape will most likely ensure that politicians keep in mind what is best for the people, which is what they should be doing. Just get over the fact that someone might be caught picking their nose on camera.

  3. jtannhau

    I think there is nothing wrong with posting these court room sessions online for the view of the public. Although, once somebody personally views these clips it is up to them to interpret it by themself. There will be a reason somebody has posted this clip, but each person should take the initiative to look beyond this reason and determine what they themself think happened.

  4. dpearl

    So in other words, politics is moving back towards the “Town Hall” approach that we started with back with the founding of our nation. Is there anything wrong with actually having the representative government we profess to have?

    In London, the electorate is much more responsive to the people because so much more of the discussion is available to the public, such as with Prime Minister’s Question Time every wednesday and regular interviews of public figures on the nightly news. Members of the public can also witness Parliament sessions in action.

    Why not have our congress more susceptible to public criticism? Maybe then our “representatives” will actually respond to the wishes of their constituents and otracticies such as the Iraq War will never get so out of hand.

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