MERCER: A second of goofing goes digital, forever
PIERRE -- South Dakota doesn't have a politician so avid at promoting himself as U.S. Rep. Aaron Schock of Illinois. But we have now heard of him.
He injected himself into South Dakota politics when he posted a photo showing himself with Kristi Noem.
The expression on her face isn't what you expect to see from South Dakota's only member of the U.S. House of Representatives.
Not from someone who's 42.
In an instant, she became a caricature, mugging for the photo like someone who's 12, or maybe 22, on a vacation.
Not on an official trade trip by a congressional delegation visiting the Great Wall of China.
Now she has to live with this image, forever, because of Schock.
He's 32, single and obviously proud of how young he is and how good he looks. Just read his biography on his U.S. House website.
Here are the first two sentences:
"At the age of 23, Aaron Schock was simultaneously the youngest school board president in history and the youngest Illinois State Representative. He is the first Member of Congress to be born in the 1980s."
Read a little further and you find he has a seat on the "highly coveted" House Ways and Means Committee. A little further, and you learn that in his first term in 2009-2010 he was appointed to the "coveted" Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure.
That's a lot of coveting for a doctor's son who grew up in Peoria, Ill. He took courses at Illinois Central College while in high school and completed a bachelor's degree in business at Bradley University there in two years.
He bought property at Peoria at 18. He was elected to the Peoria school board at 19. He was 23 when elected to the Illinois Legislature and was its youngest member through 2008.
He turns 33 on May 28. He's clearly in sync with modern social media such as the Instagram photo website. One picture he placed on Instagram shows him poised, posed and shirtless atop a surfboard during the delegation's stop in Hawaii.
There isn't a cornstalk in sight.
Instagram is where Aaron Schock put the photo with Kristi Noem.
People who post words and photos on Facebook and Instagram and Twitter and other Internet sites want them to be seen.
And when those words and photos can be used against a person, they often are.
We have tried and tried to drive that lesson home to our children and friends and relatives and co-workers and job prospects during the rise of these Internet sites in the past decade.
Put the wrong thing on the Internet and bam -- you've shot your reputation or, in this instance, someone else's.
This was a mugging far beyond Noem's expression.
Consider the photos and words in the current issue of Sioux Falls Woman magazine about Stephanie Herseth Sandlin, the Democratic congresswoman whom Noem defeated in 2010.
Everyone should be so fortunate to have a profile piece as Herseth Sandlin is portrayed. The photos are modeling-agency quality, not goofy selfies.
They show her at her best. She's not mugging in any of them.