Latest Buzzword: “You Tubed”

In the age of political correctness, a movement which has most politicians minding their P’s and Q’s, a mistake or a slip of the tongue can cost a nominee an election.
Technological advances can make such moments easier to spot and spread quickly via Internet. A new verb has emerged in the public lexicon and it should leave politicians quaking in their suits. Being “YouTubed” may sound like a five-minute shot to Internet stardom a la the Star Wars Kid or the Numa Numa man, but for politicians it could be a new weapon in their media arsenal.
Though politics and the Internet are not a new union, the popularity and availability of You Tube means one video slip-up, which may have taken hours to spread across country, now takes mere minutes for posting on various sites and links from one friend to another. The revised time factor gives political wranglers almost no time to downplay its significance.
Blogging plays a role in this as well. Sites like Wonkette and Little Green Footballs, take the videos from YouTube’s Web site (via the embed code automatically supplied by YouTube, which is simply copied and pasted into the blog’s editing tool) and post it on their site. These blogs are visited by thousands of people everyday.
Usually such posts contain witty and pun-filled headlines, followed by the video and editorial criticism below. Blogs, which have been thrust into the spotlight and have increased political clout since the 2004 presidential election, have become soapboxes for pundits, each side claiming to correct the liberal media or proclaim it is their duty to criticize the religious right.
A recent example of “YouTubed” rhetoric is the “Macaca” comment made by Republican Sen. George Allen, who is running for re-election this year. According to the August 20 issue of Time Magazine, Allen singled out S.R. Sidarth, who is the opposing candidate’s volunteer and of Indian descent, telling the crowd to welcome the “Macaca.”
The article stated that the word “Macaca” is, “either a French-African ethnic slur, a type of monkey, or a contorted reference to a Mohawk haircut-the guy has a mullet like do-depending on who’s translating.”
Just three days after Allen made the comment, the opponent’s camp posted it on YouTube and by the end of the day it had made it to the vast majority of both liberal and conservative blogs rife with snarky and sarcastic commentary.
Perhaps the issue is not about politically correctness, blogs or You Tube. It may simply be a matter of an idiotic remark coming from a man of similar quality. Will this start a new YouTube war with pundits splicing together sound bytes to portray opponents in a negative light?
The fact is that the elections are no longer decided by debates but rather won by those who have earned high reputations in the public arena. No longer is it a battle of wits with eloquent, long-winded or definable quote-driven speeches. Instead it is a tabloid-like popularity contest highlighting two extremes.