I have never seen anything to match it, not in 50 years of monitoring politics. The Internet mobilized millions of outraged voters who contacted their Senators and Congressmen.
At one stage, my subscribers could not contact their representatives online. The Senate’s site went down from the overload.
The Good Old Boys thought they would sneak SOPA through — a quiet little bill to undermine our freedom of digital communication. It was a nice payoff to Hollywood and the record industry. And then, “Wham!” The explosion blew their scheme to bits.
With the growing reservations, a bill that passed the Senate Judiciary Committee unanimously and without controversy may be in serious trouble.
In serious trouble? It’s dead in the water!
Senator Harry Reid, the majority leader and Democrat of Nevada, has scheduled a procedural vote on the Leahy version for early next week, but unless negotiators can alter it to satisfy the outraged online world, no one expects it to get 60 votes.
Marco Rubio, the Senator from Disney World, bailed out first. He had been a co-sponsor of the bill. By mid-morning, he reversed himself. All day long the defections came.
Senator John Cornyn, the Texas Republican who heads the campaign operation for his party, quickly followed suit and urged Congress take more time to study the measure, which had been set for a test vote next week.
By Wednesday afternoon, Senator Orrin Hatch, Republican of Utah and one of the Senate bill’s original co-sponsors, called it “simply not ready for prime time” and withdrew his support.
They will not try this again, I think. Hollywood does not have enough clout.
In the Tea Party era of grass-roots muscle, though, the old school was taken to school, Congressional aides and media lobbyists agree.
“The problem for the content industry is they just don’t know how to mobilize people,” said John P. Feehery, a former Republican leadership aide and executive at the motion picture lobby. “They have a small group of content makers, a few unions, whereas the Internet world, the social media world especially, has a tremendous reach. They can reach people in ways we never dreamed of before.
“This has been a real learning experience for the content world,” Mr. Feehery added.
They got taken the the woodshed. They found out what a handful of sites can do to mobilize voters.
It was magnificent!
It was a moment of truth. The Good Old Boys cannot safely tangle with the Internet. The risk is very high. The payoff is very low.
Politicians respond to pain. The Internet inflicted a great deal of pain.
The next time Hollywood comes calling, the answer will be, “See you later, aligator.” If any bill re-surfaces, it will have no teeth.