The special election for Georgia Sixth Congressional District is heating up. The election, which will be held on April 18, features a whopping 19 candidates all vying for the seat that newly appointed Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price previously occupied–but one of those candidates, 30-year-old Jon Ossoff, is popping as a potential Congressman. He’s raised $1.85 million dollar in just a few short weeks off of grassroots support from liberal websites like Daily Kos, and he’s got the endorsement of John Lewis and other power players in Georgia politics. There’s a lot hope among Democrats that he’ll be a rising star in the party. In a story about Ossoff, the Daily Beast asked, “Could The Resistance Start With Georgia’s Special Election?”
But because he turned 30 years old just two weeks ago, a full one-third of his life has been lived since the invention of the iPhone–which means that, for example, his college years were documented by friends for the whole dang world to see. That’s something that the Congressional Leadership Fund super PAC took advantage of in an attack ad called “Jon Ossoff: The Truth Strikes Back.” Released in both 30- and 60-second versions, the ad uses footage of Ossoff doing typically dumb college student things during his undergrad years at Georgetown–playing beer pong, dressing up as Han Solo at a party, and singing a version of Billy Joel’s “Uptown Girl” with the words changed to “Georgetown Girls”–before declaring that he’s “not serious” and “not ready” to hold office.
Ossoff may or may not be ready for Congress, but the fact that when he was a college student (2005-2009), he behaved like a college student doesn’t really have much impact on whether he’s ready to handle the job as 30-year-old man. Nothing in Ossoff’s videos is shocking, unusual, or surprising–but it does indicate that, as the rising class of political leaders includes people whose entire lives have been documented and put online, it’s essentially going to be impossible to find candidates who didn’t get captured tapping a keg, dressing up as a Star Wars character at a party, or singing a dumb song on camera at some point in their lives. None of those things tell you anything about their qualifications for office–imagine what the videos of young George W. Bush would look like!–or come anywhere close to the levels of, say, boasting about when you see a woman you fancy, you can “grab ’em by the pussy” because you’re famous. But there’s an entire generation of leaders who are going to have to deal with those things during campaigns, at least until we all resoundingly declare that we don’t care at all what Billy Joel songs they sang with their friends in college. We won’t describe that eventual moment as a great day for America, but the fact that videos like this have made it into a political ad make this a depressing one.