Phil Reese

Netroots Magic: Joe Wilson's trashing is Rob Miller's treasure

Filed By Phil Reese | September 10, 2009 1:30 PM | comments

Filed in: Politics
Tags: health care reform, Joe Wilson, President Obama

UPDATE:According to Rob Miller's Act Blue site, he's raised over $510,000 in under 24 hours. Bil Browning noted that this is about $1,000 a minute!

Last night when the tweets began flooding in about S.C. G.O.P. Rep. Joe Wilson's misguided heckling of the President of the United States, I was preparing to record another episode of Lundon Calling, the weekly podcast I co-co-host with Ace Lundon and Lance Helms. None of us really had the opportunity to see it live, so I wasn't really sure what to make of the comments about someone throwing shade at the president. I thought it was merely the general raucous booing that Democrats also hammed up for Bush like a VH1 "____ Of Love" contestant.

"I agree--totally classless--but you have a short memory. Dems did same to Bush in state of union." I tweeted back to some friends.

But my interest was piqued, During the first part of the show, Ace sort of takes the lead, so I started to investigate what folks were talking about. If you haven't seen it, here it is:

More after the jump.

Democratic legislators flirted with crassness during the Bush years, but Mr. Joe Wilson bought the landfill and set up a homestead last night. I could spend pages talking about the contemporary disrespect for the Office of the President (which G.O.P. lawmakers really started during the Clinton years, but which Democratic lawmakers aren't immune to either), but that's another debate for another time.

I want to talk about a South Carolina cash register that is ringing like a telephone this morning.

As I began to learn more about Joe Wilson through Twitter, Facebook, CNN and other News sites, and the occasional text message, a quick mention of his 2010 challenger, Rob Miller, really caught my attention. I definitely signed the petition for Joe Wilson to apologize to the president, but I was pretty sure he was going to, and he'd do so like every politician ever apologized: with a half-ass, P.R. apology which maintained regardless of his misguided actions, he was still right and the President is still wrong.

I gravitated toward the idea of bringing a little attention to his challenger instead, so I reposted the link to give to Rob Miller and started reading up on this Blue Dog who gave Joe Wilson so much trouble in last year's election (losing by only a few points). The same way I got so excited about the Bob Casey campaign 4 years ago.

Suddenly CNN updated their ticker item about the fiasco: "Update: Miller's campaign says they have raised $40,000 since President Obama's speech ended tonight." It dawned on me that something very fantastic could happen tonight. I quickly began hyping up a bitly link to donate on Rob Miller's Act Blue page. I retweeted it several times, and then posted it as a status comment to anyone who updated about Wilson on Facebook.

The campaign was already going viral without my help. Daily Kos had also taken up the mantle around the time I had first heard about it, and Act Blue was overloaded. I wanted to wake up today and see that Rob Miller had raised $80,000 since the President's speech concluded--as of 2:30am this morning they were already at the finish line. The Act Blue total now stands more than $40,000 over its total when I first saw it last night.

The link I posted didn't quite go viral but was clicked quite a few times--between mine and a couple other bitly links to the same Act Blue page--over 2000 times.

Lemons into lemonade. Joe Wilson himself made a little money last night. Tens of thousands less than Rob Miller, but certainly he has his fans. The most important aspect of Joe Wilson's story is that of the fallout he's going to receive back home in the Palmetto state. Most of the contributions to both Joe Wilson and Rob Miller came from all over the nation--the power of Netroots organizing shown in a single night! However, the voters don't come from "Fire Joe Wilson" Facebook groups in Nevada, they come from South Carolina.

If Rob Miller continues to raise money and gain on Joe Wilson, he'll be able to buy the resources he needs to communicate clearly with the voters of South Carolina that he intends to hold himself to a higher standard when he's on Capitol Hill. But all of that means nothing if the voters in Joe Wilson's district don't see what he did last night to the President of the United states as a boorish and unprofessional act which only served to draw the party lines deeper, rather than support unity to help economically disadvantaged Americans afford basic health care, a unity the President was talking about.

So while last night's impromptu Rob Miller fundraiser was a magical experiment in the power of Social Networking's place in political organizing, I just hope that it also translates into real awareness where it means the most--South Carolina.

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Miller's ActBlue page is now showing that he's raised $671,000 on that site alone today.

That breaks down to about $466/minute for the last 24 hours.

Update: 750,000 as of this morning! Wow, how two words can make the world of difference in front of a national audience.

There are a lot of opportunities
If you know how to take them, you know
There's a lot of opportunities
If there aren't you can make them.

Rob Miller just bought a copy of Pet Shop Boy's "Please" on iTunes.