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Jonn Dingell Is The Trump-Twitter Destroyer America Needs

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Jonn Dingell Is The Trump-Twitter Destroyer America Needs

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John Dingell, Twitter King

This article originally appeared in USA Today.

Since 1966, the news media have granted the opposition party a national platform to deliver a response to the president’s annual State of the Union Address. This attempt to balance our debate must be upgraded for the 21st century, now that we have a new president who tweets like a moody teenager who was just denied a participation award. Democrats should name a Twitter account to issue official responses to President Trump’s tweets, and those rebuttals should be noted in any relevant reporting.

There’s one tweeter who has best demonstrated the character and the 140 characters necessary to perform this role. The best way to stop an unstable 70-year-old with an itchy Twitter finger is the world’s greatest 90-year-old Twitter user — @JohnDingell, a former Democratic representative from Michigan.

While still serving in Congress as a spry 88-year-old in 2014, John Dingell was recognized by BuzzFeed as “probably the best person on Twitter” after an errant tweet from an Environmental Protection Agency account led him to tweeting about the shock of learning what a “Kardashian” is. Since then, he has retired from the House as the longest serving member of Congress in U.S. history and gone on to successfully defend his title of “tweet king” — as Politico Playbook recently called him — with reliable barbs focused on politics, Michigan sports, and Donald Trump.

“Forget the basket,” Dingell  tweeted during Trump’s transition. “The truly deplorable ones end up in the Cabinet.”

When The New York Times reported that Trump aides couldn’t operate the light switches at the White House, Dingell tweeted, “Luckly for them, setting the Constitution on fire provides at least a bit of working light.” As for the fake-news inaugural furor, Dingell tweeted: “If you think lying about a crowd size is bad, wait until you hear about their plan to kick 30,000,000 people off their health care coverage.”

America might have faced periods of greater discord, strife and division, but our public debate has never been so abrasive, typo-ridden, and pissy. And much, if not most, of the thanks for our degenerating discourse belongs to the more than 34,000 tweets of the new president of the United States.

A recent Quinnipiac University poll found that 64 percent of Americans — including 45 percent of Republicans — believe that Trump should give up his personal Twitter account. But given the president’s unwillingness to release his taxes, divest from his businesses or even read a Dummiesguide to the Constitution, Democrats can’t wait around and expect Trump to moderate his behavior on his own.

You could argue that the left would be better served if its official digital response came from a somewhat younger voice from one of the communities most likely to bear the brunt of Trump’s attacks on reproductive health care, immigration, and voting rights. But institutions are all that Americans can rely on now to protect us from Trump’s sleep-starved, anti-democratic impulses.

And John Dingell is an institution.

On the day Pearl Harbor was bombed, he was working as a page on the floor of the House of Representatives. First elected in 1955, he presided over the House in 1965 when Medicare passed and was there in 2010 when President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act into law. Dingell was one of the last two World War II veterans left in Congress when he retired after his 30th term in 2014.

Most important, Dingell doesn’t ever have to worry about getting a job again. This gives him a freedom to swing back at Trump’s wild accusations, proclamations and ejaculations.

Plus, he — like the president — seems to have a fair amount of spare time.

I visited Dingell’s home in Dearborn and found him still filled with reverence for the presidential office that he says “our Founding Fathers and members of Congress regarded as almost mystical in its qualities.” But that reverence is not extended to the man who now holds it, whom he finds to be “a bully and a blowhard and a liar.”

Dingell doesn’t want Trump to fail because “if he’s not a success, everything goes to hell. I want to see him succeed in a proper way.”

What would a proper success look like?

“He is the president of all Americans. It is his duty to look to the well-being of all parts of the county. We’ve not yet seen whether he is doing that, whether he intends to do that, or whether he will do that.”

In fact, Dingell’s seeing the opposite.

“Whether you’re talking about Roosevelt, Hoover, or Trump, they have a responsibility to preserve the dignity of the office. I don’t see him doing that so far.”

His advice to the new tweeter in chief?

“Be careful. He has a responsibility for the economy, the jobs, the futures, the hopes, the dreams of 330 million Americans.”

As a man born between the two world wars and a student of history, Dingell has a staggering sense of the perils of Trump’s bombast.

“If you look, a bunch of big-mouthed European potentates got us into World War I. Do you remember what happened in August of 1914? Read that history. It’s terrifying.”

Many on the right have attempted to reframe Trump’s Twitter usage as a modern update of Franklin Roosevelt’s fireside chats that soothed a nation transitioning from the worst Depression in American economic history to the deadliest war ever. Dingell’s not buying it.

“I listened to the fireside chats as a boy, and they were received reverentially by the American people. You can’t say his tweets are received reverentially. You can’t say mine are, either. You sure as hell shouldn’t,” Dingell said, displaying a self-awareness that is now not allowed within several hundred feet of the White House.

Are there any checks and balances on the Twitter use of a former U.S. congressman?

“John Dingell unfiltered is a little dangerous,” Rep. Debbie Dingell, 63, who succeeded her husband and must still run for re-election, told me. “We encourage him to run (his thoughts) by us before they get posted.”

“And I usually do,” Mr. Dingell assured me.

He recognizes that Twitter offers everyone “a chance to make an ass of himself publicly.” He compares putting that power in the undersized hands of the president to giving “a gun to a kid” without any safety training. But his worries extend far beyond Trump’s Twitter use.

“He is a man who has two problems that work against each other. One is ego. He has a gigantic ego. And he has a gigantic inferiority complex,” Dingell told me. “And he’s playing into the hands of his enemies. But he’s also playing into the hands of our enemies in the nation, which is why people in that kind of office are so careful about what they say. And he’s not. And all of these things are going to come back.”

Seven decades in public service have left John Dingell with some optimism that even Trump could rise to the stature of his office.

“He still has time. And you should watch this to see that he doesn’t jeopardize our leadership position in the world.”

But that hope is only discouraged by the new president’s conduct.

After Trump fired his acting attorney general for refusing to defend his immigration ban, Dingell tweeted, “Comparisons to President Nixon’s Saturday Night Massacre are a bit misguided, in that Nixon at least had a general idea of what the hell he was doing.”

That’s the kind of context every American needs.

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43 Comments

  1. Aaron_of_Portsmouth February 17, 2017

    Excellent article and a sobering reminder of the perilous period and direction a large number of superficial and morally lax voters have steered the country towards.
    50 years ago this would just be a laughable moment, but a very emotionally/mentally disturbed and careless fellow has been given the authority to push the Button, or to incite feral creatures robed in white sheets, or excite the pulses of little men wearing suits seated at desks at outlets like FOX, lauding racialist and extreme nationalist sentiments.

    To make matters worse, he eschews reading with lame excuses that he left his glasses at Trump Tower—even children’s books might prove a challenge, not to mention the inability to read the small print written next to The Button.

    Reply
    1. Terrymweikel February 18, 2017

      Google is paying 97$ per hour! Work for few hours and have longer with friends & family! !mj456:
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      Reply
    2. plc97477 February 18, 2017

      What we are going to do is hope fervently that our laws and our checks and balances will keep things from collapsing completely before we can get the power to fix it.

      Reply
      1. EMS February 18, 2017

        I agree, but how are we going to stop him (and Congress) from changing or destroying those very laws, They are already getting away with blatantly ignoring the “checks and balances” at least until they can destroy those too.

        Reply
        1. Eleanore Whitaker February 18, 2017

          EMS, the reality is that the southern and midwestern politicians plotted from the day Obama was elected to takeover government. They could not have done this without assistance from dark money from the Koch boys, Adelson and other billionaires. This is the result of allowing an anti-Constitutional law like Citizens United to be passed. From that moment on, the Republicans didn’t need elections, voters or candidates. They WERE the ONLY government and all they had to do was sidle up to the richest men in this country.

          Reply
          1. neeceoooo February 19, 2017

            Russia had a big part in this as well.

            Reply
          2. Eleanore Whitaker February 19, 2017

            Absolutely.Right now the righties are uncharacteristically silent about that Russian spy boat sitting off the coast of Long Island and Ct. And that Russian spy plane that nearly crashed into an American military plane.

            All of this will come out in the next round of what Trump loves to call “real leaks.” 17 Intel agencies in the U.S. and Europe have Trump where they want him. Now, they need to make sure their evidence presentation is so air tight the Republican Party has no way to Cover UP like they tried to do in WaterGate.

            Reply
          3. dpaano February 22, 2017

            Well, 45 DID say during his Florida campaign rally that if he could, he would blow that ship out of the ocean. Apparently, he was not aware that this would be highly illegal because the ship was in international waters, plus it would start a major skirmish with Russia that would NOT be good! This goes to show just how naïve and uninformed 45 is!

            Reply
          4. Eleanore Whitaker February 22, 2017

            What do you make of Putin putting Trump’s personality through a Russian psychological exam? Doesn’t say much for how much they trust their best buddy.

            Reply
          5. dpaano February 23, 2017

            I think WE need to do the same….he has a serious problem with paranoia, ADHD, and narcissism (which isn’t actually a mental illness, but still causes problems). Unfortunately, I don’t see this happening since he probably won’t agree to it.

            Reply
          6. Eleanore Whitaker February 23, 2017

            One of my Russian born friends tells me he thinks Putin is covering his butt because he believes Trump will Tweet something that “will end up with Putin in Borscht.”

            Think about it. Putin cares less about being caught creating fake news media all over Europe and the US than he does about bad PR that might set off another Russian Revolution. Explains a lot about why Putin so hated Hillary who had the goods on him that he was determined to infiltrate our election to be rid of her.

            Reply
        2. dpaano February 22, 2017

          I agree, especially when you put the Vice President in charge of the committee that is reviewing voter fraud…..what do you expect them to find with him in charge Seriously!!! They need a group of outside individuals with proper credentials to do this investigation….not someone within 45’s own administration! As it stands now, anything of an investigative nature is being handled by Republicans, so nothing is going to be accomplished!

          Reply
      2. dbtheonly February 18, 2017

        Hope is good.

        Better is fighting back. Starting with Tom Price’s Congressional seat. Contribute. Volunteer. Vote.

        To those of my friends living in “red” Districts, Dom, hint, hint, attend your Representative’s “town hall” meetings. Ask, politely, the difficult questions. Get it recorded.

        We’ve got any number of the difficult questions here. I’ll write you more if you need.

        But wishing and hoping doesn’t cut it any more.

        Reply
        1. Eleanore Whitaker February 18, 2017

          db…If I learned nothing working with corrupt CEOs in my lifetime, it is that you must always document: date, time and quotations, in order to take them down. If you choose to do it on tape, you do have to legally make them away you are taping it. I always used the excuse that I was a writer who needed the basic information for an article. The goons at the doors usually accepted that.

          Reply
          1. dbtheonly February 18, 2017

            With you Ms. E,

            I’m looking to get film of the various Republican Congressmen trying to explain their replacement for Obamacare, or running away from constituents, or telling some of those constituents to shut up.

            Nothing will hold them to their word. We’ve got to get the votes to beat them.

            “Citizens United” was not a law, but rather a SCOTUS decision that held that free speech allows anyone to speak politically at any time. Cash is speech and so restrictions on political donations are unconstitutional. One has an absolute right to attack any politician at any time at any cost.

            Reply
          2. dpaano February 22, 2017

            As I said earlier, both Chaffetz and Issa here in California have been bombarded at their town hall meetings….in fact, I believe one of them decided NOT to have an actual town hall meeting and chose, instead, to have a conference call. What a yellow-livered jackass! But, it’s apparent that we’re getting to them one way or the other!

            Reply
        2. plc97477 February 18, 2017

          I agree completely with resistance. Keep the fire on them and hope to contain the damage until we can fix the mess.

          Reply
          1. dpaano February 22, 2017

            I read an article in the LA Times the other day about how our younger generation and millennials are now becoming activists….much like the ones that marched during the Vietnam war! This is a GOOD thing, and we need them to get more involved, which I think they are. Not sure if the marches, rallies, etc., are doing much good, but they certainly are keeping people’s displeasure in the newspapers! Of course, if it’s not in the National Enquirer, Breitbart News, or FOX News, our illustrious so-called president won’t see them! But you can be assured that our representatives will!

            Reply
          2. plc97477 February 22, 2017

            As far as I am concerned if it pisses off putin’s puppet it is worth doing. He is getting more and more unhinged with each out-burst.

            Reply
        3. neeceoooo February 19, 2017

          I have been calling, texting and writing to my representatives in a red state, and they no longer take my calls. The letters are not responded on but I will keep doing my part. They might be able to ignore me but I am still here and still an active participant.

          Reply
          1. dbtheonly February 19, 2017

            Bully for doing your part.

            Suggest, your local paper may well have “articles” from your local Red Reps. These are usually nothing more than their press releases. You might consider writing to/for that paper pointing out the absurdities in the Reps. positions. Subtlety and restraint is needed though. Point out that Rep. refuses to answer your, oh so reasonable, questions.

            Suggest organizing protest meetings, attending his “town halls”. But be careful. We need to look reasonable on film.

            Reply
          2. neeceoooo February 19, 2017

            great points, thanks

            Reply
        4. dpaano February 22, 2017

          I’m very optimistic that the people coming to these town hall meetings (Chaffetz & Issa, for example) and voicing their displeasure with the actions of this Republican Congress…..maybe they will get the idea that they don’t work solely for 45…..they are supposed to be working for US….you know, the ones that pay their salaries and vote for them! If we all step up and question these individuals and make it VERY clear to them that their jobs are on the line (especially those who are up for re-election in 2018), maybe they’ll decide to reach across the aisle and vote with the Democrats to keep this president from taking us in the VERY wrong direction!

          Reply
          1. dbtheonly February 22, 2017

            I’d prefer Issa, Chaffetz, and their ilk to be unemployed, but crossing Turmp will do, I guess.

            The only vote that really matters is removing Paul Ryan as Speaker.

            Reply
          2. dpaano February 23, 2017

            And Mitch McConnell, who is equally useless! I find it very interesting that he’s complaining about the people showing up at the Republican senator’s town hall meetings and asking very important questions……which is EXACTLY the very same thing that the Tea Party did with the Democratic senators when President Obama was elected! I guess turn about is NOT fair play with Republicans!” Personally, I hope that we keep it up much like the Tea Party did….we need to make sure that the GOP realizes that we are NOT going away!

            Reply
          3. Independent1 February 23, 2017

            Six of the 10 most economically challenged counties in America are in Kentucky. The state McConnell represents in the Senate.

            Reply
          4. dbtheonly February 23, 2017

            Indeed. My list should have read, “including, but certainly not limited to”.

            We can have four years of fun reading Republican speeches back to them, verbatim. I recall that one Democratic Congressman read a Republican Congressman’s speech demanding that disaster relief be curtailed when it was the Republican’s District now in need.

            Reply
      3. neeceoooo February 19, 2017

        Yes, hope is good.

        Reply
      4. dpaano February 22, 2017

        With 45’s sudden “mass deportation” bill, that’s going to be tough…..things are going full blast here in California, and it’s scarier than hell, especially for our immigrants. These immigrants have built this state into what it is today….the 6th largest economic group in the world! What will happen when, as you say, there are no people to man the jobs that these people currently do…..you certainly won’t see any of those Rust Belt Trump voters rushing to California to get jobs, at least not the jobs that will be left open! As 45 would say……Sad!!!

        Reply
    3. Independent1 February 19, 2017

      My sense is that what may save our country is going to be its economic collapse. By plotting to deport immigrants Gestapo style, not only will Trump be deporting thousands of immigrants, he will driving out millions more, even those here legally – preventing many companies come this spring who depend on cheap immigrant labor to drive their businesses from getting the manpower they need to continue their operations. And by pulling healthcare and retirement guarantees out from under millions of Americans by repealing ACA (or replacing it with a worthless alternative) and turning SS, Medicare and Medicaid into a pig-n-poke; the GOP will be killing the economy as Americans pull back in spending. Essentially, what the GOP is doing is simply setting America up for at a minimum another Great Recession and quite likely a depression; it’s only a matter of time – my sense is – about 6 to 8 more months.

      The shortage of immigrant labor and the pull back in consumer spending, will result in an economic collapse that will kill hundreds, maybe thousands of businesses; throwing millions onto unemployment, and cut sharply into the corporate profits of virtually all remaining companies.. The economic devastation may well throw the entire world into a depression and will throw our government into turmoil and make much of what the GOP is plotting to do irrelevant; not much can be gained from running a country in economic collapse.

      But hopefully from all that will happen, the majority of Americans will then see and understand what the greed and hate that Trump and the GOP have been promulgating over the years will end up meaning to their lives – devastation – and that then, the majority of Americans will see clearly who is really responsible for the upcoming economic collapse and hold that political party responsible by kicking Republicans out of office.

      Reply
      1. dpaano February 22, 2017

        I agree, but it’s not going to be easy to get through something like a great depression-type event. It’s already started in California with ICE illegally going into homes (without a warrant and saying they are police officers) and taking away many immigrants…..people who have had jobs and have been adding to our economy! People are scared here, and we’re all scared for them and are in a quandary as to what we can do! Our governor is pissed because they are allowing ICE agents to tell people that they are the cops so that they can gain illegal entry into their homes, which makes it difficult because these same immigrants who used to respect the police and help them when necessary are now even afraid to come out of their homes for ANY reason! This is causing many of our good immigrants to distrust the same law enforcement agency that they used to respect! We have no way of finding criminals if these people are afraid to talk to law enforcement because they are afraid of being deported!
        And, I agree wholeheartedly with you about the problems this will cause with the economy. I find it VERY difficult to understand why Republicans in Congress don’t seem to understand the enormity of the problems that this mass deportation event is going to cause on our economy. How can they NOT realize this is beyond me!
        I feel very sad for the many people both here in California and in other states that are now afraid to step out of their homes for fear of being ripped away from their families…..these are people who own businesses, work in our medical field, pick our crops, etc…..what are we going to do without these people?

        Reply
        1. Independent1 February 22, 2017

          Yes, I can’t fathom either why Republicans fail to see that their push to deport millions of illegals is going to trash the economy. There are a number of articles written which document that. Do Republicans (and maybe even some left-wingers) just keep their heads in the sand??

          Here’s just a few articles on documenting the potential upcoming devastation to our economy.

          Donald Trump’s deportation plan would be an economic nightmare
          http://www.businessinsider.com/cost-deporting-undocumented-immigrants-study-2016-5

          What Would Happen to the Economy If Trump Got His Way
          https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-08-18/here-s-what-the-u-s-economy-would-look-like-if-trump-deported-undocumented-immigrants

          If we deported all the undocumented immigrants in the US who would do their jobs and how would that affect the economy and prices?
          https://www.quora.com/If-we-deported-all-the-undocumented-immigrants-in-the-US-who-would-do-their-jobs-and-how-would-that-affect-the-economy-and-prices

          Reply
          1. dpaano February 23, 2017

            California is already feeling the brunt of this….many of our Central California farmer are already having problems finding people to pick their crops this summer and may have to sit and watch them rot on the trees, etc. Also, restaurants are having problems finding workers. I wonder if any of those Rust Belt workers who are so upset about being out of work would like to come here to do those jobs…..doubtful….they’d actually have to work!

            Reply
  2. limburger February 18, 2017

    …typo-ridden? you mean typo-riddled don’t you?

    Reply
    1. Independent1 February 18, 2017

      From quora.com: The phrase “typo-ridden” (also typo-riddled) just means the text is full of typos.

      Both appear to be correct.

      https://www.quora.com/What-is-typo-ridden

      Reply
  3. Eleanore Whitaker February 18, 2017

    There are 3 other names to remember: Malcolm Nance, Steve Schmidt and Norm Eisen.

    Malcolm Nance is a highly placed former Intel agent with the kind of expertise that makes Trump shake in his bedroom slippers. Steve Schmidt is a Republican Strategist who has tweeted that so many of Trump’s lies have never ever been allowed by any other president. Norm Eisen is the man to watch most closely. He is a Brookings Fellow with a legal background that makes all of the Trump lawyers look like pikers.

    When I heard Steve Schmidt speak on CNN this past week, it was like hearing words straight out of the mouths of our Founding Fathers. A true patriot who puts country before Party. As for Malcolm Nance, he knows more about the Russian hacking and has written a book “The Plot to Hack America” that details not just the actual hacking script by the Russians but the outcome of not doing anything about it.

    If you don’t know these names, study their backgrounds. You’d be hard put to find a single flaw with any of them. They may be all that remains of true American patriots.

    Reply
  4. rednekokie February 18, 2017

    Former congressman Dingle is a national treasure. His mind is accurate. His actions are needed. May he continue to be the “national tweeter in chief”, as opposed to the silly boy in the white (trash) house.

    Reply
  5. FireBaron February 19, 2017

    Thank you, Congressman Dingle, for having the courage to tell our self-proclaimed emperor of the state of his (lack of) attire.

    Reply
  6. ORAXX February 19, 2017

    How are you supposed to relate to a President who simply isn’t capable of behaving like a responsible adult? Trump’s tweeting is merely a symptom of much deeper problems.

    Reply
  7. dpaano February 22, 2017

    At least we have ONE person who knows what’s going on and is willing to respond to 45’s ridiculous tweets! Not sure if 45 bothers to read the responses, but at least we can be sure that someone is responding!

    Reply
    1. plc97477 February 22, 2017

      We are not completely sure that putin’s puppet is capable of reading the responses.

      Reply
      1. dpaano February 23, 2017

        No, but I’m sure Bannon can read it for him.

        Reply
    2. InformedVoter March 4, 2017

      Hello racist and bigot: John Dingell was an embarrassment and was a big part of the reason the voters voted for President Trump. Dingell served past his ability to contribute and do his job. The dummies in MI just kept voting him in because he protected their welfare checks. He is part of the swamp President Trump is draining.

      Reply

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