Will future politicians have to explain their Web past?
August 11, 2004 3:08 AM   Subscribe

Will future politicians have to explain their Web past [MI]?

As blogs (and a Web presence in general) become more popular, it is to be expected the politicians that will shape up for the next 40-50 years will have acted in a online forum in some way or another, espousing opinions, which could be controversial.

There are already political figures having blogs, such as the King of Cambodia or the Iranian Vice President in the Parliamentary Legal Affairs, and there have already been controversies regarding someone's Internet past.

Considering this, how likely is it that tomorrow's politicians will be able to be tracked through the marks they left on various Internet forums? Will it be able to see the way their ideas got shaped?

Considering that most forums now have archives and will be easily accessed in the future, should anyone intending for a political (or any other, actually) career be careful on what opinion he espouses on the Internet?
posted by Masi to Computers & Internet (5 answers total)
In 1992, when Clinton was questioned about his past drug use, he was able to admit it, but he had to claim that he didn't inhale. By 2000, Bush was able to declare his past drug use irrelevant to the election.

My guess is that Internet comments will be treated the same way. For a while, they will be scrutinized and criticized, and politicians will have to get creative to explain the ridiculous things they wrote when they were just college students. Eventually most politicians will come from a generation where everyone said stupid things on the Internet, and it will become a lot less of an issue.
posted by fuzz at 3:29 AM on August 11, 2004

"You have to understand the context in which I called him an asshat..."
posted by languagehat at 7:37 AM on August 11, 2004

During the recent Canadian election, Malcolm Azania, an NDP candidate, was criticized for controversial remarks he made about Jews in a 10-year old USENET post.

He lost to the incumbent, Rahim Jaffer. Jaffer had a scandal of his own -- his assistant appeared on a radio show pretending to be his boss.

I'm not sure how much Azania's USENET post influenced the voters. Probably not at all.
posted by MiG at 7:56 AM on August 11, 2004

It'll happen. It's just another potential source of muck for operatives to rake.

The best a prospective ex-troll candidate can hope for is that eventually, enough people will have said something embarrassing online that they'll understand the actual context of what was said, and not pull the remarks or whatever too far out of the original conversation, whatever it may have been.

But I've no doubt that most of us have said things that would pretty much remove us from electoral consideration. If you haven't, you're not really trying here.
posted by chicobangs at 9:34 AM on August 11, 2004

If I ever become a politician I, inspired by Mr. Cheney, plan on dropping the F-bomb liberally.
posted by jfuller at 5:33 PM on August 11, 2004

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