Dear @milbank: Is It That Hard to Say “Sorry, My Bad” About ChimichangaGate?

We are now convinced that ChimigangaGate has entered the realm of social media silliness, and in the case of Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank, we would suggest he go to his local Mexican restaurant and ask for a plate of humildad.

Milbank, who was the one who wrote the following line:

"The chimichanga? It may be the only thing Republicans have left to offer Latinos."

This was a reference to what Senator John McCain said during a Senate session about the confirmation of a Cuban American judge to the federal court system, in response what Senator Rand Paul was doing to stall the vote. The line then became the tweet of the day from Obama 2012 campaign manager Jim Messina and chimichanga silliness ensued.

We have pretty much stated our case about the social media gaffe from Messina, and we were giving Milbank the benefit of the doubt because we actually thought his column was a good one. But after reading his "response" today in The Washington Post, we are just asking: "Dude, really? You just can't say, hey, it was a line that didn't work for some? I am a columnist, I have opinions. My bad." Is it that hard to do?

Here are snippets of what Milbank had to say (the whole column can be read here and you can see that Milbank is taking umbrage with the Republican's demands for an apology, which, as we said, was perfectly legitimate in this case, especially since it is clear that Milbank truly has no clue about what he is working so hard to try and defend). This is what caught our eye today:

Holy mole sauce! The flap spread, to CNN, the Drudge Report, the New York Times,Comedy Central. “Chimichanga is the New Macaca,” said Michelle Malkin. Eventually, calls came from the blogosphere that “both Jim Messina and Dana Milbank should apologize.”

To those demanding my apology, I say: That’s nacho place. I flauta your demands. In the chimichanga wars, I will taco no prisoners — and that’s for churro.

His column ends like this:

As for the chimichanga apology, I’m pleased to report that Messina had a good answer to those demanding his contrition: Not so fajitas. A follow-up tweet said: “Tweeting someone else’s words caused a stir, but the GOP is on the wrong side of every Hispanic voter priority.”

In fact, I hereby demand that the RNC and conservative critics end this sorry episode by apologizing for demanding apologies. If they do, I would consider making an apology of my own: to the chimichanga, for bringing the innocent entree into this cauldron.

You are kidding us, right? Really, Dana, this is a joke, correct? You are missing the point: why are you stooping to tired stereotypical puns about Latinos? Because you are clever? Because we Latinos love a great Tex-Mex menu? Because you don't have a little decency to just admit you goofed?

Really? Saying, hey, I got the message (Republicans were not the only ones who called this whole affair dumb and stereotypical), my bad, is so difficult? Swallow your pride a bit. Focus on the real issues, which was your column that had done until a silly little ending throwaway and stereotypical line ruined it.

In other words, #NoMames.

Five Social Media Lessons for @Messina2012 About His Chimichanga Tweet

Social media is quick and social media is brutal. If you are going to use platforms like Twitter, expect to be called out, no matter who you are or what you do. EVERYONE is now a web page, and every profile is just as important as every other profile. The ability to quickly send out a message to thousands or even millions is powerful. But just like any power, you must respect it or else it will bite you in the culo.

We have been covering countless instances where social media gaffes have led to US Congressmen resigning for tweeting pics of their junk, major beer brands removing ads that were offensive to the NYC Puerto Rican community, Taco Mayors getting called out for their ignorant comments, and major networks perpetuating stereotypes with lame-ass comedy in the name of Latino unity. Add to the mix the whole clueless comments by major political candidates and their deep misunderstanding of how to gain the US Latino vote, and you ask yourself: DO PEOPLE IN POWER TRULY UNDERSTAND THAT THE DIGITAL WORLD IS FLAT NOW? Do they realize that their tweets, shares, notes, comments, and opinions are open to more scrutiny and criticism? And do they even realize the the most effective way to actually "be ahead of the story" and be "in control of their message" is to respond quickly, honestly, and without the traditional old media (and slower) response?

No. They still don't get it.

Take the case of Jim Messina, the campaign manager for Obama 2012, who this morning at 9 am EST probably thought that the following tweet would get him some chuckles and earn him some points. (Lesson #1: It is clear that Messina doesn't really "get" Twitter, especially since he has less than 200 tweets and doesn't understand that to be effective on Twitter, you truly need to ENGAGE and RESPOND to the stream. 197 tweets is a sign that all your profile does is a bit of one-way communication, which in the land of Twitter, is a major #FAIL.) Here is the tweet:

Lesson #2: Really really know what you are tweeting about. There is really no Latino we know that associates his or her cultural identity with a chimichanga. What if Messina tweeted out the following?

"Line of the day from WAPO's Dana Milbank: Fried chicken? It might be the only thing left the GOP could offer Blacks."

"Line of the day from WAPO's Dana Milbank: Chopsticks? It might be the only thing left the GOP could offer Asians."

"Line of the day from WAPO's Dana Milbank: Whiskey? It might be the only thing left the GOP could offer the Irish."

and so on and so on.

The point is this: if you are going to get into the world of ethnic identity and treat a group, ANY GROUP, as one monolithic voting bloc, you will truly need to understand the complexities of cultural identity and stereotyping. If you don't, here's some advice: don't make your views public.

Lesson #3: If you are going to tweet something that you REALLY want to put in context, you have ways to do it. First, call out the profile of the person you are quoting. Second, add a link from the column you are referring in the tweet. What you DON'T do is set up it with a Obama 2012-approved tweet of the day seal. And you definitely don't make the tweet appear that the campaign manager of Obama 2012 is endorsing a columnist's dumb and stereotypical line in the interest of appealing to US Latino voters. That was Messina's Twitter mistake. After that, once the tweet it out there, you become a like a Roman prisoner in the Coliseum, waiting for the crazed lions to pounce on you.

Lesson #4: If you DO tweet out your mistake, be prepared to respond and respond quickly. Messina's Twitter account failed big time in this instance. We kind of gave this same advice to Amaury Nolasco last month, but we will say it again: once you tweet out to the Twitterverse, you are fair game. It is rough out there, it is tough, and if you are not ready to respond and respond authentically, you are only adding fuel to the fire.

And then profiles like @SooperMexican are ready to attack and guess what, that profile, even though the Sooper is a bit too partisan for our taste in most instances, he knows how to play the Twitter game and for that we give him props and respect. Sooper made this story Messina's Twitter mistake and Messina let him do it. Messina lost the momentum of the story because he didn't respond quickly enough. Well played, Sooper. Too bad you don't do the same when GOP politicians talk about electric fences killing illegals, Arizona sheriffs push racism in their policing tactic or when people in general insult Latinos with dumb ignorant comments. We would love to have you speak out against that, too. But it's cool, you do what you do and you stay true to yourself, and that is why even though we don't agree with you on everything (although today we can share one big chimichanga together), we still respect you because you are honest and stick to your guns.

Lesson #5: When you DO respond with another tweet, don't hide behind the intent of your first tweet with something like this:

Instead, be humble, be authentic, be apologetic. Use humor. Say you screwed up and that you are sorry and that your intent was to just quote a column you read that day. But don't tweet, hey, we still know better even though I had previously tweeted something that would piss off a sector of people whose vote I am trying to court.

Granted, in the end ChiminchangaGate (or whatever it is called) will not turn the tide for the GOP. Like Ricky Ricardo used to say, "You got a lot of explainin' to do." However, Democrats and the people in influential positions of leadership in the Democratic party (like the President's campaign manager) are just having a big Latino Panderfiesta when they tweet out thoughts like Messina's.

Leave the chimichangas to Taco Bell. Focus on the real issues that will gain you the Latino vote: jobs, the economy, a passage of the Dream Act, a more realistic and comprehensive immigration policy. Focus on that and leave Twitter to the people who know Twitter. Let the GOP try to figure out how to truly capture 25% of the US Latino vote. They will be lucky if they get 15%, but chimichanga tweets don't help.

And while you are at, @Messina2012, just say that you goofed and move on.

Why Did @Messina2012 Have to Go There With A Tired Stereotypical Tweet?

Twitter is a tough place, especially when you try to tweet something in 140 characters. Take the care of Jim Messina, who is the campaign manager for Obama 2012. This is what he tweeted out this morning:

Messina was referring to a column by The Washington Post's Dana Milbank entitled "Does the GOP care about Latinos?" It was actually a very interesting column that show differences between certain factions of the GOP that are looking at the US Latino voter. In one camp, you have the Jeb Bushes of the world (with a new appearance by Marco Rubio), who are basically telling their colleagues to stop the anti-immigration rhetoric. In the other camp, you have the Rand Pauls of the world who seem to be on another planet.

Like we have always said, the GOP had its golden opportunity to capitalize on US Latinos' dissatisfaction with President Obama, whether it is with the economy, his Deporter-in-Chief status, or his failure to push the passing of the DREAM Act. But instead, the major GOP candidates talked about electric fences, deporting 14 million people and siding with the party's more nativist sector. The GOP is struggling to capture the Latino vote more than ever, but it is failing, and even their own people are saying it. (Bush, Rubio, etc.)

But that doesn't mean Messina and Obama 2012 get a free pass. Granted, Milbank's column line was in response to a line given by Senator John McCain who was touting how the chimichanga was one of Latino Arizona's greatest contributions to the US. McCain failed by missing the point, and Milbank played into it, but we can understand what he was doing as a column. Even though it was dumb.

Messina, however, just tweets out a tweet that from first glance is so out of touch with the complexities of the US Latino voters. Hell, we don't even know Mexicans who eat chimichangas, which is a Tex Mex food concoction and is about as Latino as say, a bad Los Lobos cover band that is headed up by some cowboys. (Granted, some who will see this tweet and who are Latino will find the tweet funny and witty, and that is a problem too.)

Silly tweet games won't win you votes and Messina just played into it and it was wrong and offensive. Stop the Panderfiesta, guys, and start waking up to the fact that the US Latino vote is not a given this election year. Just a little bit more respect would go a long way.

Messina's tweet is just as dumb as any other stereotypes we see, whether is comes to celebrating Jeremy Lin's Asian-ness or denouncing the comments from a Taco Mayor. Word of advice to Messina: when you tweet something out like that, just give it more context, link back to the original poster or column. And take a pause before you do it. You enter dangerous territory when you start pandering.

Maybe we should tweet this out to Messina:



In this case, we tend to side with the typical Washington reaction that is going to come out of this. Here is a post from The Hill:

"The fact that the campaign manager of President Obama's reelection campaign thinks it's appropriate to disseminate insulting jokes about the Hispanic community is a perfect example of the kind of empty rhetoric that characterizes this White House's so-called outreach to Latinos. We demand that Mr. Messina immediately apologize and we ask that President Obama disavow his campaign manager's ridiculous statement," said Jennifer Sevilla Korn, executive director of the conservative Hispanic Leadership Network, in a statement.

The Republican National Committee (RNC) also hammered Messina over the comments. The RNC's Latino Twitter account re-tweeted one user's comment telling Messina, "[N]ot to try and insult your intelligence or anything, but not all Hispanics are about chimichangas."