wpostServer: http://css.washingtonpost.com/wpost

The Post Most: Opinions

direct signup

Today’s Opinions poll

Should the United States fund the service program AmeriCorps? President Obama would increase its budget. Rep. Paul Ryan would eliminate federal funding for the program.

Submit
Next
Review your answers and share
ComPost
About Petri |  Get Updates: On Twitter ComPost on Twitter |  On Facebook Petri on Facebook |  RSS RSS
Posted at 08:17 PM ET, 09/14/2011

Harry Reid’s Twitter Town Hall

Did Senator Reid’s Town Hall break Twitter?

I don’t think so. That would have been far too exciting.

At any rate my Twitter went down and stayed down, but it was probably the series of very detailed absolutely work-related videos that I am downloading onto this computer and not, in fact, Harry Reid’s fault. “Things That Are Not, In Fact, Harry Reid’s Fault” was a good theme for the Town Hall.

Online, a lion’s share of the Town Hall questions came from Reid opponents complaining that Democrats hadn’t passed any meaningful jobs legislation, although there was a sustained flurry of interest for a question about online poker.

There were also such illuminating queries as, “Why do you hate rich people? How do you reconcile that with the fact that you are one?” or “. @ SenatorReidIs this twitter town hall being paid for by the # taxpayers or by your campaign machine? # AskReidTH.

Shortly after this penetrating question — and a few about the Obama campaign’s new Attack Watch, which I thought was a cool wrist accessory but turns out to be some sort of preemptive strike on attack ads that sounds worrisomely Big Brotherish — my Twitter went down and stayed down. By the time it recovered the Town Hall was over, except for a couple of people who are still asking questions as I write, not seeming to understand the concept of the town hall.

Maybe it was the dog that didn’t bark. Or maybe that’s just how Twitter Town Halls always turn out. “Good use of everyone’s time on social media” and “vibrant Twitter town hall that drives forward the discussion” are two of my favorite new oxymorons.

The only edge that Twitter town halls seem to have on regular town halls is that you don’t have to show up, and thousands of people can see the mildly inane thing you were planning to ask instead of just the usual thirty old men in Dukakis sweatshirts and shorts who have nothing better to do on Wednesday at four.

We have this notion of the Town Hall as a noble venue where community voices may Ring Out Loudly and Sound Freedom Over The Land. And true, sometimes they are.

But when you really come down to it, Town Halls generally tend to be the refuge of people with nothing better to do. Take this one. Four PM on a Wednesday? People with better things to do than ask Harry Reid questions about jobs and online poker are probably off doing those things. And if they’d had to show up in person this problem would only have intensified. The people who show up to Town Halls are generally old and tend to yell a lot, and the people in their lives who take them most seriously are their elected representatives.

Maybe this was an improvement. Say what you will about the high unemployment, it has led to an unprecedented number of people willing to submit Town Hall questions and listen patiently for answers.

The basic gist of this afternoon’s town hall was that people want Harry Reid to create jobs. “What about the jobs wand?” they asked. “Have you tried waving the jobs wand?”

“No,” Harry Reid said, more or less. “But I have created a lot of jobs in restaurants. Also I blame Republicans for hiding the jobs wand.”

In summation, Harry Reid answered some questions about jobs that were submitted via Twitter. And it was very exciting because we live in a twenty-four hour news cycle and so we’re contractually obligated to be excited when anything normal happens on Twitter, even though we’ve all been on there since 2009 and the excitement has somewhat worn off.

By  |  08:17 PM ET, 09/14/2011

Tags:  Twitter

 
Read what others are saying
     

    © 2011 The Washington Post Company