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?