Tuesday, February 9, 2016

David Frum's well-written Rubio analysis consists of a badly written tweets

These tweets from David Frum brought home a couple of points I've been meaning to make for a while now.

Viewed in certain ways, particularly when you're talking about large grassroots movements, the impact of social media can be tremendous, but this does not mean that a public figure personally has to be on social media to remain relevant, and those that do use it effectively realize that the old rule about different messages working better in different media is especially true with formats like Twitter.

The only politician I can think of who really gets this is Donald Trump. This is, by no means, and original observation; Josh Marshall has been making it for months. Trump uses Twitter to make simple declarations, stake out positions, exchange insults, and toss out one-liners. He keeps up a steady stream of tweets and does a good job staying in the moment of the conversation. On top of this, his long history of making outrageous statements has to a large degree innoculated him from the potential consequences of an otherwise ill considered tweet.

Even more importantly, Trump does not try to force messages into the medium that don't fit. His tweets don't require context nor do you have to read multiple tweets in proper sequence. They lose nothing in the re-tweeting.

Which brings us to David Frum's analysis of last Saturday's GOP debate.As Josh Marshall pointed out, it's a remarkably astute piece of work, concise and insightful. It would make an excellent blog post, but you can't just chop up a post into a bunch of tweets. Even with a very good post (perhaps particularly not with a very good one).

Consider this excerpt:

2) But the normal reason to adhere to talking points is determination to advance a controlled message - and to avoid an unhelpful quotation
3) By contrast, Rubio’s 4x repeat was not an act of excessive message discipline. It was a display of panic at a moment of uncertainty
4) Faced with a genuinely new situation, Rubio could not figure out what to do …. and so stumbled into doing precisely the wrong thing
 These points need to be read uninterrupted and in order. All three lose a great deal out of context.

I understand why Frum would want to be on Twitter, but his message does not fit the medium, and that seldom works out well.

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