A lot of politicians and business leaders these days are using Twitter -- the microblogging platform that allows people to write up-to-140 words of useless hogwash on the Internet, from their cell phones -- because ... well, it's Twitter! It's a hot new tool for transparency or something. It makes otherwise composed, professional people share nonsense about themselves around the clock.
In politics, this can cause problems. Major ones. In fact, the first major political scandal of the Twitter era has just taken place in the Virginia state government. And it's really, really embarrassing.
On Tuesday, the Virginia GOP was trying to lure a single Democratic state senator to their side in order to split the Senate into a 20-20 tie between Democrats and Republicans. Then the Republican lieutenant governor would have had the tie-breaking vote, and the GOP would suddenly control the Senate.
Just as the tense, private negotiations with this Democratic senator were making progress, the Virginia GOP chairman, Jeff Frederick, "twittered" this dumb blurb to the outside world:
Big news coming out of Senate: Apparently one dem is either switching or leaving the dem caucus. Negotiations for power sharing underway.
A little premature, no? Because when the Democratic leaders saw this message, they gathered their full forces to talk the Democratic senator out of it, and the deal was off. The Democrats kept the Senate.
Now some will try to use this to teach a lesson about monitoring what one writes on the Internet, but no, the lesson is a very old one: Don't tell secrets to everyone. Duh?
Jim Newell writes for the non-Twitter blogs Wonkette and IvyGate.