The Town Hall Reimagined: President Obama In 140 Characters Or Less
So, humanity's first "Twitter town hall" is now in the books. Was it everything you hoped it would be? My wish is that if we all agree to behave ourselves, there won't be any more of these things. As someone who grew up thrilling to history lessons on subjects like the Lincoln-Douglas debates, I just sort of feel bad for the future America in which school children will be taught about that time President Barack Obama responded to a tweet from @schnaps.
But, this Twitter town hall was nevertheless a thing that happened today. As with any time social media gets knit up into the world of politics and the media, the actual platform was little more than part of the scenery. Tweets appeared on a screen, and Jack Dorsey (a.k.a. @jack, the Guy From Twitter), read the questions aloud, much in the same way CNN has been doing ever since they discovered Twitter. President Obama then provided lengthy extemporaeous answers to those questions. Aside from a tweet Obama himself sent at the outset, soliciting suggestions for what programs should be cut or preserved in the debt ceiling debate (cue the RNC making fun of this -- "Obama seeks help on Twitter for how to do his job"), there was hardly any tweeting involved. The questions may have well been pulled from a hat, or carried into the room via pigeon, or even just asked, in real time, by people standing right there!
At one point, Obama quipped that he understood that on Twitter, answers should be brief. And that got us thinking: What if Obama also have to confine himself to answering each question with only 140 characters? The town hall would have been much shorter in duration, for one thing! But would the answers have been as revealing or as substantive? Well, we took our best shot at answering that question, by condensing Obama's town hall answers into tweet-sized responses.
One day, we will all communicate like this. And then: extinction!
Below, some of our favorite tweeted questions and what we think President Obama's response would have been if he'd had but one tweet.
@DrewHampshire asks: What mistakes have you made in handling this recession and what would you do differently? #askObama
@BarackObama: After 5 right things I did right, we should have talked more, America. #mybad
@dmscott asks: #AskObama Tech & knowledge industries are thriving, yet jobs discussion always centers on manufacturing. Why not be realistic about jobs?
@BarackObama: Srsly, Steve Jobs should let iPads be manufactured in American sweatshops instead of Chinese ones. #alsogreenjobs
@dwhite105 asks: Higher ed. is necessary for a stronger economy, but for some middle class Americans it's becoming too expensive. What can be done? #askobama
@BarackObama: We are sending more kids to college, w/ more Pell Grants, etc. (They should stay there til recession is over.)
@_RenegadeNerd_ asks: #AskObama Mr. President, will you issue an executive order to raise the debt ceiling pursuant to section 4 of the 14th amendment?
@BarackObama: Quick econ explanation: If debt limit isn't raised, world will make fun of us...bet @_renegadenerd_ didn't know that!
@pmglynn asks: Mr. President, In several states we have seen people lose their collective bargaining rights. Do you have a plan to rectify this? #AskObama
@BarackObama: Without collective bargaining, GOP will kill weekends....maybe.
@johnboehner (Speaker of the House John Boehner) asks: After embarking on a record spending binge that’s left us deeper in debt, where are the jobs? #AskObama
@BarackObama: I CAN HAZ MOAR INFRASTRUCTURE STIMULUS, PLS?
@pedsnursemarcia asks: @AssignmentDesk1 #AskObama Public Edu here in CA falling apart. Not grad enough skilled workers or smart citizens. Privitization looming?
@BarackObama: More interwebs in schools (less rats.)
@ModeledBehavior asks: So will you raise taxes on the middle class at least to W Bush levels @askObama @townhall
@BarackObama: But I cut taxes! Just remember that, okay? But yeah, can I instill some Clinton-era nostalgia in rich people, pls?.
@MostlyModerate says: @whitehouse Cut subsidies to industries which are no longer in crisis or are unsuccessful: Cotton Oil Corn subsidies for ethanol
@BarackObama: Wood chip & algae energy>corn ethanol...but do they come in kettle roasted flavors?
@Ron says: Now that the space shuttle is gone, where does America stand in space exploration?
@BarackObama: AHHA! But w/o tax cuts millionaires & billionaires won't be able to afford space vacations will they, @GOPleader?
@BarackObama: But srsly: WE HAVE NOT IDENTIFIED THE ASTEROID YET. #marsbitches