Or, perhaps more aptly titled, “Omigod, my teenage babysitter and her friends are representing us in Congress.”
Columnist Dana Milbank lets it fly — rightly so. I can’t decide, after reading this, whether I am more afraid for my country, or embarrassed by it, this morning. Any question about the fate of the country in the hands of Washington can be pretty much resolved right here:
President Obama spoke of economic calamity and war last night in that solemn rite of democracy, the address to the joint session of Congress. And lawmakers watched him with the dignity Americans have come to expect of their leaders: They whipped out their BlackBerrys and began sending text messages like high school kids bored in math class.
“One doesn’t want to sound snarky, but it is nice not to see Cheney up there,” Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) announced as Obama entered the chamber.
“I did big wooohoo for Justice Ginsberg,” Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) broadcast, misspelling the name of the ailing Supreme Court justice. McCaskill could be seen applauding with BlackBerry in one hand.
“Capt Sully is here — awesome!” announced Rep. John Culberson (R-Tex.), spotting the US Airways pilot in the gallery.
Then there was Rep. Joe Barton (R-Tex.), in whose name this text message was sent at about the time the president spoke of the need to pull the country together: “Aggie basketball game is about to start on espn2 for those of you that aren’t going to bother watching pelosi smirk for the next hour.” A few minutes later, another message came through: “Disregard that last Tweet from a staffer.”
The silly narcissism and immaturity aside, one can almost pity these lawmakers’ attempt to be hip with the times, no doubt believing that if they don’t Twitter or podcast every inane utterance for their perceived rapt constituency that some snarky blogger from their hometown will call them on it. Almost. I’m reading some of these “Tweets” and I start thinking of all the salt of the earth people in the these members’ districts — yeah, the people now facing layoffs and the loss of health insurance — who might have given 50 or 100 bucks to a congressional campaign last year, thinking they needed the very best representation in troubled times. And look what they got.
“Even the Republican lawmakers went gaga,” wrote Milbank, describing the goofy transformation of grown men and women into annoyingly sycophantic and/or doltish adolescents before his very eyes. “When Michelle Obama walked in, one young Republican House member turned to a colleague and mouthed, ‘Babe.’”
Gag me with a spoon.