Newt & Smike's Adventures in Second Life

(Originally written September 28,2007)

Copyright © Timothy Horrigan 2007

The rise of the virtual world Second Life has coincided with the 2008 Presidential election cycle. (And, if current trends continue, Second Life might implode sometime around January 20, 2009, just in time for the beginning of the 2012 election cycle.) Although most of the candidates have unofficial support groups on the Grid, only two or three have directly embraced Second Life.

I say "or three" because Mark Warner's advocacy group Forward Together was very active on the grid in the summer of 2006, and Gov. Warner's own avatar made some in-world appearances— but he soon dropped out of the race. For more info see:

The first candidate to establish an official Second life site was Mike Gravel. His is a low-budget campaign, so instead of paying extra to buy the last name "Gravel," the campaign decided to name his avatar "Smike Graves." But he has an outstanding site on an expansive skybox 2000 feet up in the sky:

Newt Gingrich doesn't have a public headquarters yet. In fact, he may not even have a home yet: for all I know he could be camping out on Capitol Hill. But he used Second Life to kick off his "Solutions Days" on September 27, 2007. Although the Virtual Capitol (unlike the real one) is not for sale it can be rented for special events, so he rented it. I missed the event, but I did score a free "Don't Tase Me Bro" T shirt. His event was such a success, it even attracted counterprotestors— and not frivolous ones. These were serious protesters from the peace group CodePink. My best SL friend Chelsea Chandler was one of them. I do wish I had been there myself— although I will say that Newt does at least seem to be somewhat in touch with reality, which is more than I can say for any of his GOP rivals aside from Ron Paul. (He was also an effective Speaker of the House until he made the colossal blunder of impeaching the first President Clinton in the absence of any popular support whatsoever— not to mention the absence of any actual high crimes or misdemeanours. The current Speaker is making exactly the opposite blunder, but I digress...)

Newtie made one rookie mistake in his SL debut. He tried to stream RealPlayer Plus video when only Quicktime and mp3 video can be streamed— but that's forgiveable, unlike some of the other crap he has pulled over the years. Here is my SL sister Tammy posing on the Virtual Steps:

For More info:

If Gravel and Gingrich both get nominated, we will have a record number of real life debates. They have both signed a "9 90s pledge" to have 9 90-minute debates during the 9 weeks before the 2008 General Election. I think they should hold one of these debates on the Second Life grid.

Interestingly, RL Mike signed the pledge the same day SL Newt was born. This makes me wonder if SL Smike and SL Newt got together in-world to make a deal on behalf of their RL avatars.

For More Info:

 [September 30, 2007]: I wrote this article on September 28, 2007, assuming that Newt Gingrich would in fact be running for President. And I assumed that his public rollout of his advocacy group American Solutions for Winning the Future (including Second Life events) was merely the next step in his campaign. But, the weekend after I wrote this piece, he came out and said that in fact he would not be running after all. The basic reason given was that his lawyers convinced him that he couldn't legally simultaneously run an advocacy group like American Solutions while also being a Presidential candidate. He blamed the McCain-Feingold Act, though there would also have been tax implications for American Solutions. Gingrich would personally have taken a huge financial hit, since he heads several well-financed organizations and makes what he describes as "hundreds" of paid speaking engagements a year. Widgets

  [March 4, 2008]: I probably should've added this note on January 31, 2008, because I actually was told about this before it happened: Mike Gravel's campaign took down his Second Life build on that day. His Real Life campaign is still going on, although he is getting few if any votes and his campaign has been censored by the mainstream media. (There are a few diehards who are voting, unnoticed by the media, against both Clinton and Obama, but that 1% or 2% of the vote is mostly going to a guy who dropped out long ago, John Edwards.)

Senator Gravel has started publishing a series of books, beginning with an updated version of his classic Citizen Power:

I was mildly annoyed but mostly amused to discover (on the same day McCain went "over the top" by amassing a majority of the Republican convention delegates) that two humongous megaprim Ron Paul signs had suddenly sprung up near my land in the Okemo Canyon region. My neighbors sold a couple of small parcels to a "land baron" who is also a Ron Paul supporter. My family and I are thinking of putting up an Obama and/or Gravel display.

Ron Paul signs on the Okemo Gorge sim
Okemo Gorge: 9/9/117

  [September 30, 2010]:  Mike Gravel figured peripherally in a real-life scandal which I was the center of.  I waded into a Facebook conversation which began when NH State Rep. DJ Bettencourt griped about Mike Gravel's supposedly ingracious comments about the late US Sen. Ted Stevens (which were actually quite gracious).  I ended up resigning my own seat in the NH House, after making comments which were mistakenly viewed as a death threat against Sarah Palin— but I am running for re-election anyway

Long before the scandal, I actually attended one of Newt Gingrich's hundreds of paid speeches.  It was not a bad speech, actually.  I wrote a posting about the event on a local progressive blog, although oddly I mostly talked about a later speaker, i.e. Andrew Breitbart, even though I left right after Gingrich was finished.


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