Time flies in a year – even more so during a presidential campaign. Too often, yesterday’s headlines fall by the wayside of our public memory. But in our modern-day wired world, the power of the online video has enabled us to capture the moments we often forget and briefly relive them … over and over again. Here, in no particular order, is a sampling of the viral videos that reflected and shaped this year in politics:
1. “Now is the time for action!” Herman Cain’s close-up smoking political ad
It seems like a lifetime ago that now-former GOP candidate Herman Cain was enjoying a surge of popularity. In the midst of his sudden rise in the polls, Cain released a political ad featuring the campaign’s chief of staff, Mark Block. The video, widely described as “bizarre,” features a close-up of Block advocating for his candidate before briefly and inexplicably smoking a cigarette, and closes with Cain’s face breaking into a very slow smile. To date, the video has more than 1.7 million views on YouTube – and more than 8,000 “dislikes.”
2. Wendi Deng slaps shaving-cream pie thrower at Rupert Murdoch’s hearing
The NewsCorp hacking scandal riled the news media in early 2011, leaving many to wonder about the fate of media mogul Rupert Murdoch and the empire he built. Murdoch’s tense hearing before the British Parliament in July was suddenly interrupted when British comedian Johnny Marbles rushed toward the stand with a plate of shaving cream in hand. Murdoch’s wife, Wendi Deng, stood up amidst the furor and slapped the would-be assailant, prompting her name to start trending on Twitter and eliciting such tweets as: “At last the #notw inquiry has exposed News Corp’s deepest and darkest secret: Wendi Deng is a Power Ranger.”
3. Obama addresses the nation to announce Osama bin Laden’s death
2011 was the tenth anniversary of the World Trade Center attacks that dramatically altered the landscape of international relations. On a late Sunday night in May, President Obama took to the podium inside the White House and announced that Osama bin Laden had been killed by U.S. forces. “Justice has been done,” he declared.
4. Zach Wahls addresses the Iowa House of Representatives on same-sex marriage
This week, YouTube announced that its most popular political video of the year was a testimony made before the Iowa House of Representatives by 19-year-old Zach Wahls. The House was set to vote on an amendment to the state constitution that would effectively outlaw same-sex marriage, which was legally recognized in Iowa. Wahls, who was raised by a lesbian couple, gave an impassioned speech about his family and his upbringing. “In my 19 years, not once have I ever been confronted by an individual who realized independently that I was raised by a gay couple. And you know why? Because the sexual orientation of my parents has had zero effect on the content of my character.”
The video first went viral in February, and experienced another surge in early December thanks to the online community Reddit. While the amendment passed Iowa’s House of Representatives, it was not taken up by the Senate, and same-sex marriage remains legal in the state. Wahls is now 20 years old and release a book next year entitled “My Two Moms: Everything I Needed to Know About Gay Marriage I Learned in Boy Scouts.”
5. Rick Perry forgets which federal departments he’d like to eliminate
Perhaps the most memorable moment of the several GOP debates that have convened this year was Rick Perry’s infamous memory lapse in trying to recall which three federal agencies he’d like to eliminate. Although he was able to name the Department of Commerce as well as the Department of Education, he froze on the third agency, eventually giving up altogether: “I can’t, the third one, I’m sorry, I can’t. Oops.”
6. Occupy Oakland raid
Coverage of the nationwide Occupy protests took a dramatic turn after Oakland police raided the city’s encampment with tear gas and rubber bullets in late October. Scott Olsen, an Iraq war veteran, was hit in the head and suffered a fractured skull during the raid. The widely circulated videos and news coverage of the incident put Oakland and debates over police treatment of protesters into the national spotlight.