Posted on June 15, 2010This may sound counter-intuitive, but I kind of feel sorry for Bobby Etheridge.
He is the North Carolina Congressman who is the new YouTube hero. He is the guy who attacked some college kids who had the nerve to ask him if he supported the Obama agenda on camera.
The flip-cam is becoming the bane of every elected official.
Flip-cams are small little cameras that often have high-definition quality, don’t require lights, and pick up every utterance on tape.
Both Republicans and Democrats and their campaign committees use college age kids to harass vulnerable politicians into saying something stupid or doing something stupid on a flip camera, and then having those clips from the flip cam uploaded virally on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter etc.
The first politician to be YouTubed was George Allen, the former Virginia Senator who was expected to run for President. Legend has it that Allen lost his reelection campaign in 2006 because, in small part, he was caught calling a college kid a Macaaca, which apparently is some sort of racial slur on camera. That video was uploaded on YouTube, it made its way onto to CNN and the rest is history.
Michael Moore, who invented the genre for his various conspiracy movies, perfected ambushing politicians on camera. He first targeted company CEOs, more specifically Roger Smith, the CEO of General Motors, who famously closed down a manufacturing plant in Flint, Michigan. Moore often comes to Washington to try to get politicians to say something stupid after he asked them a bunch of stupid questions.
The master of the ambush interview was, of course, Mike Wallace. Wallace made his career sticking a microphone in front of somebody who didn’t want to talk to the media, quite often mob figures or other law-breakers.
Etheridge, of course, isn’t a mob figure. He is a politician. And as a politician, he should be very good at taking questions from the media. Most politicians I have ever met actually like seeing cameras, especially if they are conducting a press conference.
He should also understand the first rule when a camera of any kind is shoved in your face: Smile and if you can muster the courage, laugh.
Imagine if Mr. Etheridge smiled and laughed at those college kids.
College kids: Do you support the Obama agenda?
Etheridge: Ha Ha Ha Ha…
College kids: Thank you Congressman.
Etheridge: Ha Ha Ha Ha
That would have helped him back home in North Carolina. He could have laughed all the way on his way to re-election.
Instead, he tried to beat up the college students. That tells me a few things.
First, he doesn’t like college students dressed in ties. They make him nervous, irritable, unhappy, uncomfortable.
Second, he doesn’t like to answer questions about the Obama agenda. Obviously, that makes him irritable, unhappy, uncomfortable.
Third, he doesn’t like Mondays. Then, again, who does?
Fourth, he doesn’t like Flip-cams. They make him flip-out.
Etheridge said in his statement of apology that he is sorry, but he is especially sorry that he has been spat on, pushed and threatened. I am sorry about that too.
It ain’t easy being a Congressman these days, especially one who supports the Obama agenda and gets Flip-cammed by tie-wearing college students. It is Hell out there.