What a difference a year -- or an election -- makes.
In 2008, Sen. John McCain looked like a man from another century going up against the streamlined, ultra-modern Obama machine. McCain admitted to barely using a computer -- and not using e-mail at all. Obama was the candidate with the BlackBerry; his campaign capitalized on the rising social media networks to energize and empower its followers. No wonder jokes started going around that McCain had a new mobile messaging device -- a carrier pigeon.
But that was then.
John McCain announced this week that his Twitter account had just gotten its one-millionth follower! That's right, 1,000,000!! That puts him up there in the category of Ashton Kutcher, Oprah Winfrey and various news organizations. And, what's really strange is that it seems to really be him tweeting. By that, I mean it "sounds" more like McCain himself rather than a staffer. Admittedly, that could mean it's actually his long-time aide/speechwriter/ghostwriter Mark Salter who is sending the tweets: He's been McCain's mental doppelganger for decades.
But his Twitter feed has just the right mix of "official-sounding" pronouncements, polite responses and basic updates that it certainly seems like it's actually McCain doing the tweets (or at least dictating them):
Fired GM CEO Rick Wagoner leaves with a $10 million benefits package - your taxpayer $ hard at work.
about 9 hours ago from web
@jaketapper But I do support the Joint Strike Fighter, which will give us the balance we need.
11:11 AM Jul 14th from web in reply to jaketapper
Live interview with Russ Clark, KBLU-AM 560 in Yuma, AZ @ 10:45 am ET to chat about my upcoming trip to Yuma on Friday.
10:35 AM Jul 14th from web
Wow, I just went over 1 million followers - thanks everyone!!
4:36 PM Jul 13th from web
Interview with Voice of America on upcoming Afghanistan elections. http://yfrog.com/7ab5bj
2:22 PM Jul 13th from Tweetie
Fighting the good fight on Senate floor 2 strike F-22 funding from DoD bill –saving the taxpayer $1.75 b - Need Joint Strike Fighter instead
12:10 PM Jul 13th from web
I hope that Bashas’ stores emerge quickly from bankruptcy & remain part of AZ community as well as maintain employment opportunities
11:35 AM Jul 13th from web
@MarkJLinsalata Thank you Mark - keep up the good fight!
10:53 AM Jul 13th from web in reply to MarkJLinsalata
But what makes Twitter most interesting is not merely what users choose to tweet about -- or who is following them. No, the real gold can be found in whom they are following. As of this writing, he follows about 60 people -- mostly family, some news organizations and various Republican groups and politicians: His wife Cindy has an account, as does, of course, his ubiquitous daughter Meghan (AKA, "McCainBlogette"). Otherwise, the good senator follows several Arizona politicians plus Arizona's and other state GOP's feeds.
And then there's the one "What the heck?" account that last year's Republican presidential candidate follows: Shaquille O'Neal.
Seriously, as your humble writer here is also a follower of "THE_REAL_SHAQ," I can attest that this is actually Shaq's Twitter account! Yes, the man played for the Phoenix Suns last year (before being traded to Cleveland a few weeks ago), but he's certainly not someone you would associate McCain with. Especially considering Shaq's tweets can be, shall we say, "colorful" (if not profane).
So, in less than a year, John McCain has gone from seeming the most Luddite presidential candidate in history -- to being one of the more cutting-edge Republicans around (heck, technophile Newt Gingrich has only 660,000 or so followers)! Yep, there are second (or millionth) acts in politics!