Politicians using Twitter: Morons or visionaries?

Not everyone is a fan of the social messaging tool "Twitter". But 115 members of Congress are using the micro-blogging site to communicate with constituents and others who decide to follow them.

Political analyst Charlie Cook isn't a fan of Twitter. Or at least politicians' use of the social messaging tool.

Cook opined a couple days ago that he has "yet to hear a single intelligent remark twittered by an elected official."

Maybe that's because you're bound by the medium. You're only only allowed 140 characters each time you "tweet".

No matter to Cook.

"The vacuous utterances Twittered daily from members of Congress make me wonder how they have the time to spend keying in on such banalities and marveling over the narcissism implicit in their belief that anyone cares about their every single thought and reaction to contemporaneous events," he writes.

Vacuous utterances? Congress? No! Come on.

We likey

We here at the Vote Blog have become big fans of Twitter because it provides a real time snapshot of what people are talking about.

For example, when President Obama had that testy exchange with CNN's Ed Henry, we included comments from the Twitterverse. Like, "Daaaamn CNN’s Ed Henry got roasted!”

And when the president announced he was not in favor of legalizing marijuana, we went to Twitter to get some reaction. And we included it.

Most of the Tweeters or Twitterers or whatever they are weren't happy: "Obama just turned the marijuana question, and the online community, into a joke. Not the right answer, Sir."


But does Congress really get it? Are they good tweeters? Or are they twits?

Well, we'll review a few...

Oregon Congressman Earl Blumenauer might be the Charles Bronson of Twitter. Stalking his prey, ready to lay the electronic slapdown on whomever he finds offensive.

Like Bobby Jindal. The Bambi-like Governor of Louisiana who was clearly impersonating Mr. Rogers last month while delivering the disastrous Republican response.

If things didn't go bad enough for Jindal, Blumenauer made sure to pile on.

"Jindal is weird," he tweeted. "I can't believe Jindal. Such a sad contrast with President. Doesn't even look or sound good, to say nothing about content."


Less than ten days later, Blumenauer did it again. This time, however, he was just responding to a tweet. A tweet from Senator John McCain.

McCain dubbed Blumenauer's "Oregon Solar Highway" earmark as the porkiest of all pork.

Bluemenauer responded: "McCain wasnt familiar with a blackberry right? Hows he supposed to understand a solar highway utilizing right-of-way to generate solar power."


The beauty of Twitter is that it can be portable, allowing you to tweet from your cell phone. So when critical news breaks, your elected official can keep you apprised of the latest developments.

Take Arkansas Congressman John Boozman for example.

"Eating breakfast with a constituent," he tweeted.

Dos Twitter

Some representatives twitter about other representatives twittering.

Tweets California Congresswoman Mary Bono Mack: "Sitting at the NRCC dinner watching Joe Barton twitter away!"

What was Joe Barton twittering about?

"Sitting at nrcc dinner listening to gov bobby Jindal of louisiana."


By the way, punctuation? Completely optional. Correct spelling? Not necessary.

Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley proves it.

"Bfast free bremer co Farm buro Ag Wk Recognition. Took Pat to his constituents too Got great support for AIG stand. Adressed group Listnd 2."

Making sense is optional too.

"Barb I went to neighbor on nxt farm she british. Boxer day is nxt aftr Xmas for commoners to celebrate aftr working for Br upperclass. W."


Then there was the Congressman who tweeted his trip to Iraq. The problem was, no one was supposed to know about it. It was a secret trip.

“Just landed in Baghdad,” blabbed Michigan Congressman Pete Hoekstra. “I believe it may be the first time I’ve had BlackBerry service in Iraq.”


Arizona Congressman Jeff Flake attempted sarcasm in one of his tweets.

"Pres Obama assured us tonight that he "doesn't believe in big government." Dang, that's a relief!"


While Maine Congresswoman Chellie Pingree twittered a distorted photo of circus animals for her constituents. "Seriously,I was trying to get to work and there were elephants crossing street thought this was a Democratic town?!" http://twitpic.com/26l0p

Go Tigers

Missouri Senator Claire MccCaskill has embraced Twitter. Her support for the Missouri basketball team is undying. And she let it be known last night.

"Curses. Just realized that CBS in DCland is carrying Villanova vs Duke. Now I have to figure out if streaming on my laptop is only way. MIZ."

"Just went to Duke game, now watching on laptop. Go black and gold Tigers...run em ragged."

"Z O U! Lordy Lordy what a shot!!!! Now one more half like that......."

"Almost gave me a heart attack...but yahoo!!... Now on to UConn. Please make free throws on Sat guys.Go Tigers!"

Role of Twitter

So no, these members of Congress aren't going to win any literary awards for these pronouncements. But brevity can be refreshing.

Take President Obama's insomnia-curing Internet town hall meeting yesterday, for example. It proved a very important point.

It proved the value of Twitter.


So with all of this talk about Twitter, why don't you start following us?

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