I figured I should be as open to the history happening right now as I am to the presidential politics of the 1800s. Why not try to dust off that supposed quick wit from my college improv days and share my thoughts in real time with whoever would listen?
The results of the experiment were mixed.
As the candidates took the stage, I started with something related to the president I’m currently reading:
http://ploddingthroughthepresidents.tumblr.com/post/137520247446/john-quincy-adams-jqa-can-i-call-martinThis sad little post got no love. My own mom, if she were on Twitter and alive, would probably have unfollowed me.
Then the real debate began. Since it was held the night before Martin Luther King Day and hosted by the Congressional Black Caucus Institute, Hillary started off by reminding the audience she heard Dr. King when she was a teenager. Martin O’Malley began by saying “My name is Martin O’Malley, I was born the year King delivered his ‘I Have A Dream’ speech.”
First off, it’s not a great sign that this is the fourth debate and you have to introduce yourself. But this is what he was really saying:
Later in the debate when Clinton said “there should be no bank too big to fail and no individual too powerful to jail,” I got lost in her rhymes.
I carefully constructed a comment on Hillary’s lack of popularity with the Bernie-loving kids by incorporating her use of the clinical-sounding word opioids and social media faux pas of congratulating a YouTube celebrity for having five million views instead of subscribers.
http://ploddingthroughthepresidents.tumblr.com/post/137523283036/hillary-tweets-how-do-we-more-opioids-to-theSomehow, in my fervor, I forgot the word “get” and also how comedy works. (If the kids are high on the opioids, they won't make it to the polls for the Iowa caucus and...yeah.)
It's fitting that in the very act of condescendingly correcting Hillary, I got called out for making my own social media faux pas.
When it came to Bernie Sanders, my approach was one of awe and fear.
When Bernie mentioned that climate change was noticed by ice fishermen who no longer had ice, I tried to look on the bright side. Not everyone agreed.
My darkest time may have come during a commercial break. After some talk about "Shadow Banks" and Goldman Sachs, I checked on Twitter’s #DemDebate hashtag.
I found a tweet that captured the creepy awesome feel of Shadow Banks and I retweeted it with a few words of my own from the place my mind naturally goes to – the gutter. And not just any gutter, but the lowest gutter of them all – the pun gutter.
When the topic shifted to foreign policy, I wasn’t sure what to make of Hillary’s “It’s…interesting” response about her relationship to Putin.
Overall I found myself concentrating on the small things I could riff on rather than the actual content. I wonder if this is how cable news feels.
The whole experience was exhilarating and uncomfortable, just like writing about it is now. It feels wrong to preserve these ephemeral digital comments, especially alongside posts I’ve written that were based on what important people wrote on actual paper hundreds of years ago. Live blogging is probably meant to exist only in the moment, but history is all about capturing moments in all their messy details.
Even though my words were nowhere near as nuanced and informative as I’d like, I think I managed to capture the essence of the debate a couple times.
Follow me on Facebook, Twitter, or Tumblr to find out when I might do something like this again. Or comment below with your own thoughts on the debate, and I’ll take my sweet plodding time responding with how it relates to James Madison and James Monroe.