- The Washington Times - Monday, December 15, 2008

It took two shoes to do it, but the lame duck has finally become an Internet phenomenon.

President Bush‘s shoe-dodging in Iraq this weekend is torching YouTube, garnering eight of the top 20 most-watched videos today.

“This is going viral at a rapid pace, unlike anything I’ve seen post-election,” said David Burch, marketing manager for TubeMogul, which tracks YouTube video views. “People are uploading videos of the incident to YouTube at an average rate of 209 per hour. Currently, there are over 5,000 versions, totaling over 8,145,000 views.”

All told, 28 of the top 100 videos as of noon Monday were of the incident, and those more than 8 million views is more than twice all of the views for Barack Obama‘s ChangeDotGov YouTube video views for the last month.

“This is kind of a tip of the iceberg,” said David All, a Republican blogger and technology consultant who said the video is the perfect example of combining politics, news and the Web. “We all know that humor and videos of this nature are certainly more interesting and viral than what I would call a more traditional news use of the Internet.”

During a press conference while on a surprise visit to Iraq this weekend Mr. Bush found himself facing an angry reporter from a Cairo-based television station who fired both of his shoes at the president, forcing an agile Mr. Bush to duck them both.

As of noon, two different videos had about 500,000 views each, while dozens of others had at least 100,000 views.

The comments posted alongside the videos run from sympathetic to the president to virulently anti-American. Some said they were happy the reporter’s second shoe hit the American flag behind Mr. Bush.

Mr. All said when news of the incident broke, people across the world went to the Internet to see it for themselves.

“When people hear of something the first place they’re looking is the Internet. They know there’s video somewhere,” he said.

Some pundits speculated ducking the shoes will become a defining image of Mr. Bush as he prepares to leave office. The president was not injured.

Meanwhile, Mr. Obama, whose successful presidential campaign was driven in part by savvy Web use, has seen his Internet presence fade since the campaign ended and he has turned his attention to governing, according to those who track these things.

Viewership of the YouTube videos of Mr. Obama’s weekly radio addresses has been falling steadily since his first one a month ago, according to TubeMogul. And Trendrr, which tracks online content, says both blogs and YouTube videos about Mr. Obama have dropped precipitously.

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