In a recent television appearance Sen. Lindsey Graham had plenty to say on nuclear negotiations with Iran and the ongoing fight against ISIS, but it may have been his admission that he does not use email that garnered the most attention.
"I don't email. You can have every email I have ever sent. I have never sent one," Graham told Chuck Todd, host of NBC News' "Meet the Press" on Sunday.
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"Freakout" was the term used by The Washington Post's Philip Bump to characterize some of the reaction to Graham's comments
The revelation, he wrote, "caused 80 percent of the liberal and tech-obsessed world (and its substantial overlap) to require medical treatment for strain caused by eye-rolling."
While Graham is not a Luddite who avoids using any technology, the South Carolina Republican simply says he tries not to have a system where the "first dumb thing that comes to my mind" might be recorded.
"What I do, basically, is that I've got iPads, and I play around. But I don't e-mail. I've tried not to have a system where I can just say the first dumb thing that comes to my mind. I've always been concerned. I can get texts, and I call you back, if I want. I get a text, and I respond not by sending you a text, but calling you if I think what you asked is worthy enough for me calling you," he told reporters after a recent event in Concord, New Hampshire, according to Bloomberg News
Graham's colleague, Sen. John McCain, also believes that by not using email he can avoid any unnecessary controversies.
"I don't email at all. I have other people and I tell them to email because I am just always worried I might say something. I am not the most calm and reserved person you know? I am afraid I might email something that in retrospect I wish I hadn't," the Arizona Republican told The National Journal
It was not until 1993 that email landed on Capitol Hill in the shape of a pilot program in which seven congressmen were given the ability to communicate with their constituents online, and by August 1995, more than half of all Senate offices had email capabilities, according to The Hill
A year later, 175 members of the House had email addresses.
But in a world where most Americans are habitually attached to their mobile devices and emails are sent at all hours of the day, some members of Congress let aides do their emailing for them.
"Maybe once every four months, I do one email. I like to communicate by talking directly to people. I find it's an important part of humanity to understand not just the words that are said, but how they're said, the tone they're said in, the speed they're said with," said New York Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer in an interview with The New York Times
Schumer's fellow Democrat, Sen. Tom Carper of Delaware, is also a non-emailer, while Missouri Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill says she "can't imagine" doing her work without it.
While members of Congress have demonstrated that they can get themselves into trouble by means other than email, Republican strategist John Feehery says refraining from sending messages may be the present-day version of the "don't write it if you can say it" policy.
"Politicians used to be taught 'don't write if you can say it, don't say it if you can nod,' " Feehery told The New York Times. " 'Don't email it' is the updated version, and a very smart way to avoid embarrassment and possibly jail."
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