THE BLOG
03/16/2009 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Best Way to Get Results From Politicians? Show up and Get Some

I think it's really nice that Henriette Hughes, a homeless woman who cried to President Barack Obama during a Florida Town Hall meeting the other day, has been offered a new home (reportedly by State Rep. Nick Thompson's wife). I wonder, however, if many like her will get the same opportunity. I doubt it. It seems all anyone really has to do to change their luck is to cry or call a politician out when the cameras are rolling. The results are immediate when you're featured all over the nightly news. Otherwise...not so much.

Samuel Joseph Wurzelbacher AKA "Joe the Plumber" knows exactly what I'm talking about. No one would've ever known who he was if news crews didn't capture him asking then-candidate Obama about his proposed tax plan last October. As we all know, Joe the Plumber would become a household name when Republican presidential candidate John McCain referenced him ad naseum during the third and final presidential debate. Wurzelbacher was last seen promoting the GOP and himself all over the place...milking that 15th minute of fame.

While the future seems bright for Wurzelbacher and Hughes, most of us aren't as fortunate to get so up close and personal. I can't help but feel as if a precious few are being taken care of simply because they were at the right place at the right time with the right form of media around. If Hughes had written a letter to her local officials (she may well have), would she be awarded with a house the very next day? No way. If Wurzelbacher had taken Obama to task and the GOP never saw it, would we know who the heck he is? No way.

I wrote a piece last week on an idea two Facebook members had regarding forgiving student loans in an effort to strengthen the economy. The article spawned a nice response (pro and con) on this site and others, but one wonders if one of those social networkers had posed the idea to politicos on video, and it caught fire online, it'd resonate on Capitol Hill faster. (The Facebook group now has over 30,000 members and the petition has 10,000 signatures anyway.)

No offense to Hughes, who clearly was just looking for a little help, but her case isn't unique. She was just fortunate the media made it that way. I fear people in her situation and others in need of assistance will use forums like town hall meetings to ensure they're on camera and, as a result, will get the quick fix -- sort of like how those annoying contestants dress up, overact, and try out for "American Idol" to gain notoriety even though they can't sing. Let's hope not. We don't need William Hungs on the political circuit.