Grandstanding is a tried and true political tactic on the U.S. Senate floor — usually involving stale jokes made by stiff politicians who want to appear relatable. But as the pace of pop culture has accelerated, so too have politicians’ desperate attempts to keep their humor current. Case in point: On July 30, Democratic Senator Sheldon Whitehouse took a shot at the Republican plan for climate change (or the lack thereof) by flashing the ¯\_(ãƒ„)_/¯ emoji in one of his floor charts.
Of course, in referencing ¯\_(ãƒ„)_/¯, known as the “shruggie” or the “smug shrug,” the senator revealed that he’s actually behind the curve. The smug shrug, an emoji that incorporates the “â•¯” from the Japanese katakana alphabet, went viral in English back in 2010, after rapper Kanye West brashly interrupted Taylor Swift at the MTV Video Music Awards to champion Beyoncé instead and in defense offered a quick little shrug. Tweeters seized on the emoji to communicate the message behind West’s body language. Its application to countless online situations grew exponentially from there.
Even if the surge in popularity of ¯\_(ãƒ„)_/¯ is dated, Whitehouse at least benefits from the fact that it’s still widely used, because the sentiment still resonates deeply with people online. As The Awl aptly explained in a lengthy history of the emoji, it “transcends the Internet and perhaps language itself, echoing incoherent expressions of sublime rage or terror, like the untranslatable keyboard smash, ‘asdfasldkvhjasd.’” As one editor put it to The Awl, “It’s like, the default Internet feeling.”
What We're Following See More »
"President Trump's deputy chief of staff Katie Walsh is leaving her current position to work with political groups whose help the White House is seeking as it plows ahead with an ambitious agenda, two sources familiar with the move told the Washington Examiner." On the one hand, Walsh is said to be a master fundraiser. On the other, she's butted heads with many of her colleagues in the White House.
Sen. John McCain is looking to strike a deal with Senate Democrats that would confirm Judge Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court, while preserving the right of the minority party to filibuster some nominations. McCain is trying to reprise the "Gang of 14" deal, which temporarily preserved the 60-vote threshold for lower-court nominees. This time around, "a deal would require eight Democrats to vote to advance the nomination in return for a promise that in the future they would be able to block a nominee in extraordinary circumstances." But McCain admitted he's not optimistic.
The GOP held open for more than an hour a vote on a measure that would "allow states to block federal family-planning funds to Planned Parenthood." Sen. Johnny Isakson, who is recovering from back surgery, was summoned to the floor to make the vote 50-50, after which Vice President Pence broke the tie in favor of the measure. Sens. Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski were the lone Republicans to vote against it.
"Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) in an interview to be broadcast early Thursday said he does not want to work with Democrats on healthcare legislation, breaking with President Trump's recent comments."