Republican Mitt Romney heads into the first presidential debate on Wednesday weakened by several weeks of campaign disasters, mostly served in video form. His troubles took hold in earnest in mid-September, when Mother Jones released a secretive video recording of him speaking to a group of donors at a private event, in which he seemed to disparage 47 percent of the American electorate.
To date, the video has been viewed over three million times, and seems to have had a lasting impact on both the political conversation and the polls. The hashtags #RomneyEncore and #47percent were still trending on Twitter nearly a day after the story broke.
Tweets of the Week:
If that weren’t bad enough, a clip on MSNBC’s Morning Joe
showed its exasperated Republican host Joe Scarborough bury his head in his hands and mutter “sweet Jesus” in reaction to a particularly squirm-worthy clip, in which Romney, introducing his popular running mate Paul Ryan, seems to instruct the crowd to stop chanting “Ryan! Ryan!” and chant “Romney-Ryan, Romney-Ryan!”
Some observers, however, said the whole the thing was a mistake
(or, worse, willful misreporting
by MSNBC), and that Romney was, in fact, adding Ryan’s name to the crowd who was chanting “Romney! Romney!” Scarborough defended himself on Twitter:
As if to ice the cake, two foul-mouthed, comedic videos funded by a pro-Democrat Jewish group
went viral across the Web. The first featured comedian Sarah Silverman, a regular
in pro-Obama web advocacy
, warning voters about new ID laws seen as attempts to disenfranchise Democratic-leaning voter groups.
The second video featured actor Samuel L. Jackson reading a political variation of the popular satire “Go the F*#$ to Sleep
,” encouraging ennui-laden supporters of the US president to “Wake the F*#$ Up” and get active in grassroots politics.
Of course, not every viral video was aimed at Romney. One viral clip known as the “Obamaphone Lady,” which got nearly three million clicks, features a somewhat incoherent woman at an anti-Romney protest in Ohio yelling at the camera that “Everybody in Cleveland know [sic] minority got Obama phone” -- i.e. that the president gave them free phones -- “Keep Obama in [sic] president, you know? He gave us a phone. He gonna do more.” And don’t even get her started on Romney: “He sucks! Bad!”
The clip, which made its rounds on Rush Limbaugh’s show and the Drudge Report ignited a debate about the use of race in politics. While The Atlantic wrote
, “The Obama Phone video belongs to a genre popular on conservative blogs in which poor people, usually black, confirm conservatives' worst 47-percent fears by saying they can get something for nothing because Obama's in office. The message is, 'Here's what Obama's supporters really look like,'” The Wall Street Journal countered
that, although the video’s use is objectionable, little fuss is made when similarly shallow renderings of Republican supporters as “crazy, foolish and sometimes bigoted.”
Thankfully, those fed up with the pre-election partisanship got a treat when Bridget Mary McCormack a nominee for the Michigan Supreme Court appearing on the nonpartisan portion of the ballot, reunited the cast of the NBC drama The West Wing, in all their Sorkin-esque glory, for an ad.Viral Video of the Week:
With the debates representing Romney’s last big chance to turn the race around, a little rhetorical tutorial from the Wing’s President Jed Bartlett might be just what the doctor ordered.#USelections2012 offers weekly insight into the US presidential election through a social media lens, tracking candidates as they try to reach 270 electoral votes in 140 characters or less.
The writer is a Breaking News editor and blogger at
The Jerusalem Post. Read his blog ‘The Bottom Line’ here.