Sarah Palin

Paul Ryan and the Wikipedia War

Paul Ryan's selection as Mitt Romney's running mate ignited a war on Wikipedia over whether it was relevant to note his high school voted him as the biggest brown noser. Photo by Gage Skidmore.The selection over the weekend of Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan as Mitt Romney's Republican running mate  touched off a wave of pro and con commentary. None was more pitched than a series of edits and counter-edits to Paul Ryan's Wikipedia page.

The focus of the Wikipedia Wars quickly zeroed in on a 1988 reference in Ryan's high school yearbook that listed him as the "Biggest Brown-Noser."

Ryan sympathizers swept in to scrub the reference as irrelevant, but the vigilant opposition countered and put back the brown-nose reference, declaring it was relevant. The battle waged on with hundreds of revisions, including mention that Ryan was prom king his senior year.

Actually, a spate of Wikipedia edits in a politician's profile has now become a semi-official perch to judge whether a vice presidential candidate's stock is rising or falling. 

Writing for The Atlantic, Megan Garber said reporters staked out the various Wikipedia pages of leading vice presidential candidates to see which one had the most editorial activity, a clue to who might get the nod. She noted that short-listers Rob Portman, Bobby Jindal, Marco Rubio and Ryan each had about the same amount of pre-announcement editing.

This was in sharp contrast, Garber said, to 2008 when Sarah Palin's Wikipedia page was edited 68 times the day before John McCain's surprise announcement of her as his running mate.

Political mischief-maker Stephen Colbert, perhaps miffed because he wasn't on anyone's short list, openly encouraged people to "go on Wikipedia and make as many edits as possible to your favorite VP contender." Wikipedia locked down the pages of the short-listers, which sucked the air out of Colbert's party.

A Last Laugh at 2011

Since its beginnings at a Senate office Christmas party in 1981, The Capitol Steps has produced political satire that makes even lampooned politicians laugh at themselves. The group's 2011 wrap-up is no exception, drawing on a cornucopia of gaffes and ludicrous moments in an otherwise forgettable year.

 

The musical troupe satirizes Herman Cain's womanizing to the tune of Love Potion No. 9 and spoofs Congress (the opposite of progress) in a take-off of the Mary Poppins' favorite, Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious. A hilarious reprise of Bob Dole's character returns as the more experienced running mate for John McCain's late-arriving 2012 presidential bid.

Hardly anyone gets a pass in this hour-long special, not even the female U.S. Supreme Court justices, who, while waiting in line at the high court's one-hole women's restroom, coo about their secret lust for fellow justice and conservative hunk Antonin Scalia.

Not surprisingly, the living laugh track known as the GOP presidential candidates gets dominant play in the show, which includes a contest for funniest hopeful of the year. Former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, a previous winner, introduces the contestants. Featured is a romp through revisionist history sung by Michele Bachman and Sarah Palin.

Of course, former Democratic Congressman Anthony Weiner makes an, ahem, appearance in what Capitol Steps' veteran Mark Eaton calls a built-in joke. President Barack Obama hangs out with the troupe because "I live with my mother-in-law."

No Capitol Steps show is complete without a version of Lirty Dies, the tongue-twisting, consonant-switching play on words that produces outlandish and belly-laughing results.

You can go to The Capitol Steps website and download the 2011 revue, which also contains a sneak-peak into the anticipated missteps of 2012. Don't try to navigate the distress that lies ahead without first cleansing your soul by listening the troupe's 2011 revue.

Even for the button-down believer, catching a Capitol Steps live show can be a Washington, D.C. highlight. For the cynics in the crowd, the show is a witty confirmation that the country is indeed seriously out of whack. 

A Last Laugh at 2011

Since its beginnings at a Senate office Christmas party in 1981, The Capitol Steps has produced political satire that even makes lampooned politicians laugh at themselves. The group's 2011 wrap-up is no exception, drawing on a cornucopia of gaffes and ludicrous moments in an otherwise forgettable year.

The musical troupe satirizes Herman Cain's womanizing to the tune of Love Potion No. 9 and spoofs Congress (the opposite of progress) in a take-off of the Mary Poppins' favorite, Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious. A hilarious reprise of Bob Dole's character returns as the more experienced running mate for John McCain's late-arriving 2012 presidential bid.

Hardly anyone gets a pass in this hour-long special, not even the female U.S. Supreme Court justices, who, while waiting in line at the high court's one-hole women's restroom, coo about their secret lust for fellow justice and conservative hunk Antonin Scalia.

Cautionary Coat-tails in 2012 Presidential Race

Based on the present and projected GOP presidential lineup of potential nominees, it is hard to imagine President Obama losing California, Washington and Oregon in his 2012 bid for re-election. It is the Left Coast, after all.

But winning isn't everything in presidential politics. A candidate may not have coat-tails, but his or her campaign does. Those coat-tails can make a huge difference in so-called down ballot races for Congressional seats and statewide offices.

The most notable recent example occurred in 2008 when Republican presidential hopeful John McCain pulled the plug on his Oregon campaign. That pullout left a late, gaping hole in Senator Gordon Smith's campaign and arguably played a role in his eventual defeat by Jeff Merkley.

That helps explain why David Axelrod, Obama's top political adviser, showed up in Seattle to reassure Democratic officials and operatives the President wouldn't take the Pacific Northwest for granted.

Some show of force by the Democratic presidential candidate can translate into tangible help for fellow Democrats facing tough races. In Oregon, Congressmen Kurt Schrader and David Wu, assuming he survives a primary challenge, could be in fights for their political lives.