John Dingell was known for his viral Twitter attacks against Donald Trump and witty retorts on the social media site, and now one of the longtime congressman’s recent barbs against the president is getting viral attention after his death.
The 92-year-old Dingell passed away this week, leaving a legacy as the longest-serving members of Congress with 59 years as a representative from Dearborn, Michigan. As the Detroit News noted, he later became famous for his prowess on Twitter, where he amassed a big following with his witty tweets and unabashed political statements.
“His social media prowess moved Jason Sattler, a columnist for the National Memo, to opine in February 2017 that the Democrats should create an official Twitter account to respond to the president’s tweets, and Dingell was best qualified to write the official rebuttals,” the report noted.
Now, one of the final tweets that Dingell published before his passing is getting some new viral life. Dingell responded to Donald Trump’s attack on Virginia gubernatorial candidate Ed Gillespie, who failed to uncover that his Democratic opponent had a yearbook photo showing a man in blackface and another in a Ku Klux Klan robe. The governor, Ralph Northam, is now engulfed in a scandal that has led even many top Democrats to call for his resignation.
But Dingell believed that Donald Trump — who has often been accused of racism for his defense of white supremacist protesters in Charlottesville and a string of other incidents — was in no place to enter the debate.
Buddy, I think you might want to sit this one out. https://t.co/tURD30IYNj
— John Dingell (@JohnDingell) February 3, 2019
It would be no surprise to Dingell’s followers that a tweet would gain attention after his passing. Dingell was very popular on the micro-blogging site, especially among younger generations.
While many outlets during his life declared Dingell the “Dean of Twitter,” it was not a title he endorsed.
“No, I’m not the dean of Twitter,” Dingell said (via CNN). “I do have fun with Twitter because with Twitter, I can laugh at myself or laugh at my neighbors or my brother or sister or me, or what is happening to say this is stupid.”
John Dingell went on to explain that he did not want to use Twitter the same way as Donald Trump, who Dingell believed used the outlet to try to accomplish his political ends. Dingell instead saw it as an outlet for humor.
“I believe that twitters are like the American wits and humorists like those who criticize the presidents and spread the stories about the presidents,” Dingell said. “They talk about how Lincoln would have been a great Twitterer. Saul would have been a great Twitterer.”
Farewell to John Dingell, a champion for southeast Michigan and a true representative of its interests.
— Tim Alberta (@TimAlberta) February 8, 2019
Erin Meyers, an associate professor of communications and journalism at Oakland University, told CNN that this helped Dingell connect with a new and much younger audience, many of whom were not alive for the majority of his five-plus decades in Congress.
Dingell did use Twitter to share some personal updates, including one just two days before his death where he implied that he was suffering poor health and that his wife had convinced him to take a break from Twitter. Dingell told followers that he would still post some messages, but would need to dictate them to his wife. It would be his final tweet.