Ringside Seat: The Family that Tweets Together

Being a politician requires a certain comfort with transparency. You have to accommodate yourself to being recorded all the time and accept that you'll have to be more open about your private life than most people. Not only will you have to parade your family before the cameras and worry that the girlfriend you dumped in college will tell her tale of woe to the local TV station, but you'll probably also have to make your finances public. And you'd better not forget to mow your lawn, lest your next opponent tar you as a bad neighbor who can't be trusted to keep America in tip-top shape.

But now there's something else you'll have to worry about if you're an officeholder: Is that teenage son of yours a troglodytic moron? Because if he is, chances are pretty good he has expressed his unsavory views over social media. And if he has, there's an opposition researcher from the other party who's going to find out.

So we've just gotten to know 16-year-old Joey Heck, son of Congressman Joe Heck, a Republican from Nevada, whose racist and anti-gay tweets have now been shown to the world. Our favorite tweet, after the one about President Barack Obama "speak chucking," was the one in which Joey said, "Obama didn't make the call to kill Osama … That was the intelligence committee #iwouldknow." Yeah, actually not, Joey. But what's cuter than a teenage son of a congressman trying to impress people with how important he is?

Joey's got nothing on Tanner Flake, though. Tanner, son of Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona, not only made racist, anti-gay, and anti-Semitic slurs on Twitter and in YouTube comments but also went by the charming handle "n1ggerkiller" in an online game. You can bet that led to an uncomfortable kitchen-table conversation.

Perhaps this is truly a new outbreak of social-media idiocy among the children of our lawmakers. More likely, though, people are finally taking notice. When Wutherington G. Feldspar III, son of the honorable Wutherington Jr., made a vulgar comment to his frat brothers, it didn't live on; today, your tweets are immortal. We're of the opinion that no young person is irredeemable, and today's lunkheaded teenager can grow up to be tomorrow's upstanding citizen. So even as we condemn the likes of Joey and Tanner, we hope that this will be a learning experience for them, an opportunity for growth and change. You never know.

So They Say

“I’m not a person who cares that much about other people.”

R39, a landscaper and potential juror in the Trayvon Martin case

Daily Meme: Overheard at "Road to Majority"

  • Representative Michele Bachmann: "I do intend to run for president. Of the Tim Tebow fan club."
  • Jeb Bush: "“Immigrants are more fertile."
  • National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference President Sam Rodriguez: "We gotta put some salsa sauce on the Republican Party."
  • Senator Rand Paul: "I think it's like the Old McDonald farm of scandal. Here a scandal, there a scandal, everywhere a scandal."
  • Pro-life activist Kate Obershain: "College campuses are indoctrination camps for the abortion industry."
  • John Ratzenberger, on Allen West: "We should really take something from his gene pool and put it everywhere across this great country."
  • Allen West: "Some of you maybe will leave this beautiful hotel where you're having this conference and go into some of the black neighborhoods here in Washington, D.C., and see the decimation of progressive socialist policies that have broken down the family unit in what used to be the strongest family community that this great country ever knew."
  • Talk-show host Michael Medved: "We lost because Barack Obama won crushing lopsided majorities among Americans who are single, poor, irreligious. Who wants to live life as single, poor, and irreligious?"
  • Rick Santorum: “When all you do is talk to people who are owners, talk to folks who are 'Type A's' who want to succeed economically, we’re talking to a very small group of people. No wonder they don’t think we care about them. No wonder they don’t think we understand them. Folks, if we’re going to win, you just need to think about who you talk to in your life.”

What We're Writing

  • The Supreme Court’s ruling in AMP v. Myriad Genetics may get overlooked because of the list of blockbuster cases coming up on the docket, but Scott Lemieux writesthat it could be the most consequential.
  • Low-wage workers can be kicked out the door if they’re carrying a child. E.J. Graff notes that a little cooperation from Democrats and Republicans could change that.

What We're Reading

  • What the heck was discussed at the classified Guantanamo hearing today?
  • A new FEMA report shows that climate change might make floods a very, very regular thing for some corners of the United States.
  • Obama has finally decided to intervene in Syria. Dexter Filkins wonders, is it too late?
  • There is still a band of young'uns preaching the gospel of bitcoins. 
  • Why are there no women in this year's summer blockbusters?
  • More than 40 states are considering legislation dealing with drones.
  • A Tea Party Republican's Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.

Poll of the Day 

At 92 percent, nearly all LGBT Americans surveyed in a poll conducted by the Pew Research Center believe that society has become more accepting of them in the past ten years. The same number of LGBT citizens also believe that trend will continue, and they attribute it to a number of factors that range from regular people interacting with an LGBT person to public figures advocating on their behalf. That said, 39 percent still report that they have been rejected by a family member or friend because of their sexual orientation.

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