Some of My Best Friends Use Facebook

From the Washington Post’s coverage of yesterday’s Republican National Committee chairman debate:

“We have to do it in the Facebook, with the Twittering, the different technology that young people are using today,” Duncan ventured.

“Let me just say that I have 4,000 friends on Facebook,” contributed Blackwell, putting his hand on Dawson’s and Anuzis’s knees. “That’s probably more than these two guys put together, but who’s counting, you know?” Acknowledged Saltsman: “I’m not sure all of us combined Twitter as much as Saul.”

Anuzis claimed he had “somewhere between 2- and 3,000” Facebook friends, which prompted Blackwell to remind the audience that he has 4,000 friends on the social networking site by waving four fingers behind Anuzis’s head.

While doing it in the Facebook and with the Twittering may become this year’s series of tubes, current RNC chair Mike Duncan sounding like someone’s out-of-touch grandmother isn’t the underlying issue. What is key is the candidates’ view of technology as magic pixie dust that, when scattered over their political aspirations, will give rise to unicorns that reliably vote Republican.

It’s not the technology that counts. This isn’t buzzword bingo, where every mention of a social networking site gets you closer to winning. It’s what you do with the tech. These guys expecting a couple of 140-word messages to make a huge difference is like the CEO requesting that someone in the company make one of those web logs which he’s heard so much about.

Obama’s campaign make remarkable use of social applications and networking. Campaign staffers created an iPhone app that would sort a user’s contacts by location, with those in swing states at the top, and then encourage the user to call those people. Obama announced his VP choice via text message, allowing him to amass a huge database of cell phone numbers. The Obama campaign used technology to collect information, identify people to campaign to, and enlist people to help them with that campaigning.

If I were quizzing the RNC chairman candidates on technology, I’d be asking them what they wanted to do with that technology, not if they’ve ever Plurked.

Fortunately, there were questions the candidates were much more comfortable answering.

When moderator Grover Norquist asked how many firearms the candidates own, the current RNC chairman, Mike Duncan, who despite presiding over his party’s 2008 electoral trouncing is reapplying for his job, noted proudly that he claims four handguns and two rifles.

Rival Katon Dawson, chairman of the South Carolina GOP, said that he has “too many to count.”

Former OH Secretary of State Ken Blackwell was willing to count. Seven, he said, adding: “And I’m good.”

MI GOP chairman Saul Anuzis said he has two guns, but in case the RNC’s 168 committee members, who will vote this month for the next party chairman, wanted to verify his stash, Anuzis said, perhaps only half jokingly, that he is not allowed to carry them in Washington.

“Besides, I even have the word ‘uzi’ in my name,” Anuzis added, pointing at his nametag. “See? Right there.”

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