Washington is dysfunctional enough without name-calling, and as a matter of decorum alone, Senator Charles Grassley should have known better than to tweet Saturday that President Obama is “stupid.’’ Yet the Iowa senator’s snippy comments, hardly his first about a Democratic president he clearly doesn’t like, read like awkward excesses on an otherwise fascinating Twitter feed. The 78-year-old Republican could easily do what some of his colleagues do: assign younger staffers to tap out PR messages for him. Instead, Grassley, to his credit, is working out how to use a new communications medium in full view of his constituents.
Grassley, who’s been on Twitter since 2007, has built up a cult following on the microblogging service, not least because of his aggressive use of abbreviations and his evident difficulty in typing correctly. “I now h v an iphone,’’ he wrote in February. Like many iPhone users, Grassley seems to struggle with the device’s auto-correct feature: “C me intrvud by greta van sunshine,’’ he declared recently, “on FOX tonite at 9pm central.’’
Most surprising, though, is that a longtime senator presents himself in so unvarnished a manner. Consider the offending tweet from Saturday: “Constituents askd why i am not outraged at PresO attack on supreme court independence. Bcause Am ppl r not stupid as this x prof of n law.’’ Grassley also returns frequently to some personal crusades - college basketball, for instance, and the dearth of history-related programming on the History Channel.
Tweet by tweet, Grassley is painting a candid picture of what’s on his mind. And in today’s political culture of insincerity, that’s refreshing, indeed.