Fans of the fast-paced, street-racing adventure film The Fast and the Furious, which has spawned five sequels, may have been surprised to see the term #FastandFurious trending to the top of Twitter this past week with 75,000 mentions in one day. They may have also been disappointed to find out that the talk of the Twitter-nation was not about reckless driving, but reckless politics instead.
Tweet of the Week:
For the first time in his presidency, US President Barack Obama invoked executive privilege to withhold documents from a congressional investigation into US Attorney-General Eric Holder over an operation called Operation Fast and Furious. The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform’s investigation, which has been in the works for over a year, was looking into a botched gun-seizing operation that allowed some 1,700 guns to reach Mexican drug cartels. One of the guns ended up being used in an operation that killed a US border agent. Republicans claimed that the administration misled the committee and withheld important documents.
The executive privilege command didn’t stop the committee from recommending to vote Holder in contempt - a vote that, should it pass in the full house, would be a first for a sitting US attorney-general. Though Republicans heading the investigation have since admitted there is no evidence of a White House withheld information, the scandal could yet be devastating for Obama’s reelection. The Twitter discussion was surprisingly robust:
“Fast” and “furious” pretty much sum up the overall political fallout this week’s events may hold. The Supreme Court is slated to announce their decision on Obama’s signature legislation, the Affordable Care Act on Thursday. Experts expect the court to, at the very least, strike down the law’s individual mandate, which requires everyone to purchase health insurance or face a penalty. While the law nicknamed Obamacare is, as a whole, unpopular, surveys also indicate that people support many of the policies that comprise it (individual mandate excluded). Politicians are preparing themselves for any possible ruling, and Buzzfeed has provided a helpful visual for how the politics will play out for each outcome. One Senate candidate seems to have taken their chart to heart; he already created video responses to each possible outcome and then accidentally posted them on YouTube before of the ruling was even announced.
Here’s one of the pre-reactions (the rest have been removed):
Obama’s Republican rival Mitt Romney, in the meantime, had no picnic in the world of social media either. First, conservative media mogul Rupert Murdoch slammed him on Twitter.
Then an anonymous Twitter account started Tweeting a photo taken at a Republican pow-wow in Utah that convened 800 top GOP donors. The photo allegedly shows operatives from a Republican SuperPAC chatting with Romney campaign advisors, raising suspicion that the groups are coordinating, which is illegal.
Those involved deny that the man in the picture was, as alleged, Romney’s campaign finance director Spencer Zwick.
If you’ve heard less about that particular scandal, it’s not just because its contents are questionable and less significant than the Obama-linked issues. It’s also because Romney is less personally interesting to people than Obama, according to a recent analysis. On the Internet, many sites have noticed that stories on the former-Massachusetts governor garner a fraction of the attention as those about the US president.
With all the online turmoil, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton must be revelling in the lack of involvement in the campaign afforded her by her position. While the candidates duked it out online, Clinton this week enjoyed another dose of light-heartedness as she donned purple Mardi Gras attire, complete with rings, beads and funky plastic glasses, while swearing in Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs Michael Hammer.
Viral Video of the Week:
It must be nice to not have to worry about public opinion the way Obama and Romney do. And with a fourth of US voters now saying they are undecided in the election, their reactions to events unfolding this week could, indeed, make-or-break the 2012 election.
#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.