John Dingell moves witty political observations to Twitter after historic congressional tenure
Dingell was longest-serving member of Congress in history
DETROIT – As the longest-serving member of Congress in history, John Dingell was long known as the dean of the U.S. House.
After almost 60 years in Congress, Dingell retired in 2015, but he has hardly been silenced. His razor-sharp wit Twitter feed has brought him a new generation of fans, some of whom now refer to him as the dean of Twitter.
At age 92, Dingell doesn't get around quite as well as he once did. But he can still think and type.
"So I did it one time and people said, 'Well, Dingell, that was pretty good,'" Dingell said.
It started with a tweet about the Kardashians.
"Staff has informed me of what a Kardashian is," Dingell tweeted. "I'm only left with more questions."
More than 3,000 retweets later, Dingell was off and running, though he was confused.
"You know when people do that and other people will pay money to put it on the air and other people spend good time watching it, this country's in a hell of a way," Dingell said. "They said, 'Dingell, if you do this, we'll protect you and see that you don't get yourself in too deep.' Well, the hard fact seems to be that I'm in over my head and I can't seem to figure out how in the name of hell I'm going to get out of it."
Dingell has moved his ire away from the Kardashians and trained it on others. Those who either loved or reviled Dingell the politician won't be surprised to find out those targets tend to be Republicans, such as former EPA Chief Scott Pruitt.
"It's always interesting how long a skunk can stay at a picnic," Dingell tweeted. "Bon voyage to swamp monster Pruitt. I wish you a lifetime of coach flights."
"As a man with chronic back pain, I must admit I'm jealous of their spinelessness," Dingell tweeted about the Freedom Caucus.
"If you've ever wondered what ghouls and goblins do to keep busy on the 364 days a year that aren't Halloween, here's Rudy Guiliani all over your television set," Dingell tweeted about Rudolph Giuliani.
Dingell also tweets often about the Detroit Tigers and his beloved Michigan Wolverines.
But President Donald Trump has become Dingell's target on Twitter. The tweets tend to run to sarcasm. For example, when Trump complained of Robert Mueller's investigation with the quick message of "Witch hunt," Dingell took a shot at the president's golf habit, tweeting, "The greens must be tricky today."
The lifelong champion of universal health care and civil rights said there's serious concern behind the humorous bite.
"If I looked at all of your tweets as a kind of collective John Dingell's State of the Union, I think I would glean that you're deeply concerned about where we're headed as a nation right now," Local 4's Devin Scillian said. "Is that fair?"
"I'm scared to death," Dingell said.
The current occupant of the congressional seat Dingell held for so long is his wife, Debbie Dingell, who sometimes reads her husband's Twitter feed nervously.
"John Dingell can say, 'When you're 92 you can get away with saying a lot of things that the rest of us can't,'" Debbie Dingell said.
John Dingell said the technology is just a vehicle for his witty political observation, which is hardly new, from Mark Twain to Will Rogers.
One of John Dingell's personal heroes, Winston Churchill, could be an assassin of eloquence, so Dingell and his 250,000 followers are following a grand tradition.
The question John Dingell gets all the time: "Is that really you writing these tweets?" Well, recently, Marshall Mathers, better known as Eminem, tweeted, "Everyone thinks I don't write my own tweets, but I wrote this one."
John Dingell tweeted in response, "Yeah, that happens here. Welcome."
Does he have any favorite tweets?
"They're all favorites when I do them and then I wonder, 'Was that smart or dumb?'" Dingell said.
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