Politicians take to tweeting

If not all lawmakers were 100% attentive during President Obama‘s speech before Congress on Feb. 24, there’s a good reason.

D.C. has become a land of Twits — or perhaps the proper term is Twitterers.

The social networking service Twitter has been around for a while, but it seems to have taken Washington’s political and media world by storm since the inauguration.

Karl Rove and Al Gore have been Twittering for some time, but news anchors in particular have recently discovered the service as a way to engage viewers in a more personal way. After she and other anchors lunched with Obama recently, Katie Couric Twittered the menu: “lobster bisque, striped bass, fruit confetti w/pound cake.”

The Twitter boom is not lost on the septuagenarian set, either. Sen. John McCain (R-Arizona) sent Tweets before and after CBS interviewed him about “my newfound love of twittering.”

Most people’s initial reaction to Twitter — on which users respond to the question “What are you doing?” with personal messages no longer than 140 characters — is something on the order of “How stupid.” But there’s no doubt it’s addictive.

Last week, Washington Post media columnist Howard Kurtz wrote that it has become “a time waster that has sucked in just about everyone I know.”

Twittering has gotten pervasive enough that National Journal’s Hotline has started Word on the Tweet, a daily review of the political world on Twitter.

Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) is among the many lawmakers taken with Twitter. Before the president’s speech, she Tweeted (that’s the term) from a Friends of Scotland Caucus reception: “Great music. Nice Scots, and Sir Sean Connery.” (Yes, the actor was there, though he has yet to Twitter).

McCaskill then carried her Tweets to the floor of the House as President Obama entered to address Congress. She was rebuked.

She wrote two days later, “OK. OK. Mom’s upset that I was rude at Pres speech re. tweets./ For the record I tweeted bfor, at very begining, & after speech. I wanted tolisten.”

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