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Hashtag Diplomacy: Solving the World’s Problems with a Good Tweet

Jul 092014
 
 By , July 9, 2014

Tweeting announced as the president’s new favorite diplomacy tool

Location: White House Press Briefing Room

Mr. Earnest: Welcome everyone.  I’m Josh Earnest, White House Press Secretary.  Please take your assigned places.  The President has asked that I make an exciting policy announcement today.

Media Reps.: [Low talking among members of the press.  Photographers start snapping shots.]

Mr. Earnest: Please.  If I could get everyone’s attention.  The President would like me to announce that every future international crisis, politically charged topic and policy decision will be dealt with using a catchy hashtag Tweet.  Are there any questions?

Hashtag Diplomacy TwitteringMedia: [Stunned silence.  Mouths agape. One correspondent slowly raises her hand.]

Mr Earnest:  Yes, Ms. Keiler?

Brianna Keiler (CNN):  Thank you.  If I may clarify, are you saying that you will be posting all future crisis announcements and policy announcements via Twitter?  If so, is this just another attempt at being more transparent with the press and the American people?

Mr. Earnest: [Looking perplexed]  Um, no, Ms. Keiler.  I’m sorry if you misunderstood my statement.  What I mean is that these problems that I’ve alluded to, and that the President often finds himself called away from his pick-up game of hoops on the White House basketball court, will now be resolved by the evolving policy tool of ‘Hashtag Diplomacy.’  Next question.  Yes, Chuck?

Chuck Todd (NBC):  Well, if you don’t mind going back to your clarifying statement and, well, clarify a bit more for us, I think it might clear up the confusion that many of us in the Press Corp are feeling right now.

Mr. Earnest:  Oh, sure, Chuck.  Sorry about that.  Well, here’s an example:  Let’s say that, oh, 200 young girls are kidnapped by a feisty military junta acting in behalf of regional Islamic mullahs.  And let’s say these young girls are forced into a form of slavery and abuse.  You in the media would, of course, help beat the drum of international outrage.  Inevitably, one of you will go on the air at some point and ask, ‘Will the President send the US military to the area and rescue those girls?’  You know how he feels about using the troops for, well, much of anything.

So, the President has decided a catchy and cleverly-worded hashtag Tweet should solve the problem, and the girls will soon be returned home.  The trendy people of the world can’t resist a clever Tweet.  See, pretty good, huh?  Instead of haloing in a team of Special Forces troops or ninjas to extract the girls, the President has decided to let Twitter do the heavy lifting.  Steve?

Steve Scully (C-SPAN):  Okay, let me see if we have this straight.  You’re saying that instead of sending US troops, or attempting diplomacy via negotiations or giving food or money to countries in need, you’ll simply send a hashtag Twitter message and everything will be fine?

Mr. Earnest:  That’s right, Steve.  In fact, we’ll be sending out our first hashtag in [looking at watch] about ten minutes.  It will be #bringbackourgirls.  You watch; within the next hour we expect the kidnappers to be overwhelmed with international peer pressure due to the trendy nature of this modern form of diplomacy and they’ll let the girls go and turn themselves in to Nigerian authorities.

[Hand rises in the middle of the pack.]

Ed Henry (Fox):  Will you be launching other hashtag campaigns for other hot issues right now?

Mr. Earnest:  You bet, Ed.  For the whole Russian land-grab issue going on in the Ukraine right now, some creative diplomacy is needed, so we’ll be sending out #u-krainerunbutyoucanthideGet it?  See what we did there with the name of the country?

Oh, and that little no-issue thing going on at the US-Mexico border right now; we’ll be sending this one out tomorrow morning: #redroversendeveryoneover.  

Jessica Yellin (CNN):  I just don’t know what to say.  What will that one do to help all of those children pouring across the border?

Mr. Earnest:  It’s so obvious; when they get the Tweet, well-meaning citizens of both countries will race to the border and tear down the fencing so the children, plus any honest adult, will be able to safely cross the border without cutting themselves on the metal fencing.   Let me tell you, tetanus is no fun, folks.

Oh, and since the kids won’t be able to be united with relatives for a few days or weeks, we’ll also send out #imtoocutetobehomeless.  I know that US citizens will all throw open their doors and house these kids as long as is needed.

Bill Plante (CBS):  And the President really believes that sending out a hashtag Tweet will change everything?

Mr. Earnest:  Look, folks!  Having face-to-face negotiations and discussions by world leaders is so last-decade.  We are fortunate to have a President who stays at the cutting edge of technology and makes problem-solving look cool, er, I mean, look ‘fly.’ [Winks at a reporter]

[The front row of reporters huddle for a moment, then turn back to press secretary.]

Jim Accosta (CNN):  Do you think the President would mind if we contributed some hashtags to this effort?

Mr. Earnest:  Absolutely, yes!  Glad to see you’re catching the vision.  What would you guys like to suggest?

Julianna Goldman (Bloomberg):  Well, how about #haveyoureadtheconstitution?  Oh, and we had another one; how about #cantbeatemjoinem?

Mr. Earnest:  Now wait just a mome…!

Mike Viqueira (Al Jazeera):  Hey!  Over here…I have one.  What about #sheikobamaisthebomb.  Oh, sorry, I should have left ‘bomb’ out.

Jonathan Karl (ABC):  Thanks, Josh.  I think we all have enough to post by deadline today.  However, we in the front row did have a hashtag that we all agreed upon.  We’ll all be doing at least one side article on this hashtag:  #reportersloveagoodimpeachment.

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Michael Larson is newly minted Texan. He is a retired teacher, current university librarian, and a future 'great American' author.
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