Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, is a grandfather, and he tweets like one.
The 83-year-old’s Twitter feed is peppered with candid missives, often creatively crafted using what Grassley conceded in an interview is “unrecognizable shorthand.”
“I think I’ve been a senator that on various things, I’ve been ahead of a lot of other people communicating with their constituents,” Grassley, an early adopter of Twitter, explained. “So, in the spirit of representative government, I probably had one of the first fax machines in the United States Senate to communicate with my constituents. I’m probably one of the first ones to use satellite to have news conferences back to Iowa, or to, I used to do a half-hour program once a month on Iowa public television that way.”
So, while a separate account run by his staff blasts out press releases and media appearances, Grassley is free to, for example, taunt the History Channel:
Just turned to history channel. No history. I used to get history. Why do we h v such a channel when it doesnt do history
— ChuckGrassley (@ChuckGrassley) February 20, 2012
I've turned to history. Channel. Several times this wkend always Pawn Shop. No history. Change nAme of channel to no history
— ChuckGrassley (@ChuckGrassley) June 23, 2012
There is history on the History Channel rite now Tune in before they go to swamp man
— ChuckGrassley (@ChuckGrassley) June 27, 2014
Or make nonsensical insinuations about what goes on at Dairy Queen:
Windsor Heights Dairy Queen is good place for u kno what
— ChuckGrassley (@ChuckGrassley) November 3, 2014
I'm at the Jefferson Iowa DairyQueen doing "you know what" !!!
— ChuckGrassley (@ChuckGrassley) October 16, 2015
Or relay harrowing farm mishaps:
Work on farm Fri. Burning piles of brush WindyFire got out of control. Thank God for good naber He help get undr control PantsBurnLegWound
— ChuckGrassley (@ChuckGrassley) April 11, 2009
Or report on various deer, either assumed or known to be dead:
Fred and I hit a deer on hiway 136 south of Dyersville. After I pulled fender rubbing on tire we continued to farm. Assume deer dead
— ChuckGrassley (@ChuckGrassley) October 26, 2012
Seen dead deer on way church. They didn't hit my car Unsafe if u drive in area where deer congregate Iowa needs longer season to kill more
— ChuckGrassley (@ChuckGrassley) November 19, 2012
I was doing morning run at farm. Deer killed by car in ditch. He was dead. I didn't have to"assume" anything about his condition
— ChuckGrassley (@ChuckGrassley) December 1, 2012
Fred driving me. He said Tues b4 new yr day he hit deer. Don't hv to assume anything. He told deer dead I wasn't w him that nite
— ChuckGrassley (@ChuckGrassley) January 9, 2015
While it has not deterred his usage, Grassley said he avoids reading the “demoralizing” responses to his tweets. “Ninety percent of the people hate me,” he said.
One frequent criticism is the clarity of his tweeting style.
“What really irritates me about people that have negative comments about mine, they say something like, ‘Why don’t you go to college and learn how to spell?’ or, “Why don’t you use punctuation?’” an impassioned Grassley said. “Well, I can’t believe that anybody who’s on Twitter isn’t smart enough to know that you got to use shorthand, or you can’t get it in 140 characters and I just think that those people are ignorant tweet users — Twitter users.”
Few would suspect a communications professional is responsible for Grassley’s tweets; nonetheless, he offered up his frequent dispatches from various University of Northern Iowa athletic events as proof.
Though Grassley, who every year holds constituent meetings in all 99 counties in Iowa, said social media is not a substitute for face-to-face contact, he opens meetings by plugging his digital outreach efforts, such as his Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and his “internet website,” (He “experimented” with Snapchat during his last campaign, but has since largely abandoned it.)
“I admit sometimes I have fun on Twitter,” Grassley summarized. “So, let’s say it’s part of my enjoyment, ‘cause I don’t go to movies.”
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