Twitter may be good for many things, but thoughtful political discourse isn’t one of them. The 140-character limitation on Twitter messages is just too restrictive. As a result, many political “tweets” seem idiotic.
Consider this tweet that apparently came from President Obama yesterday: “RT if you agree: It’s time for Congress to work with the President and ensure that hard work leads to a decent living for every American.” “RT” means “re-tweet,” so this little nugget of wisdom no doubt is making its way around the Twitterverse, being re-tweeted by the many supporters of the President. But, what does the message actually mean? Would the meaning be any different if it read: “RT if you agree: It’s time for the President to work with Congress and ensure that hard work leads to a decent living for every American” ? Could there possibly be a more banal message? Does anyone, at any point on the political spectrum, actually disagree with the sentiment that people who work hard should earn a decent living?
No doubt there’s more to it. Maybe the banality is intended to support an effort to increase the minimum wage, for example. But couldn’t it just as easily support a tax cut, so those hard-working Americans get to keep more of their money and enjoy a “decent living”? In fact, the trite tweet could be read as boosting almost any economic legislation, with the exception of the dreaded Prevent a Decent Living for Hard-Working Americans Act. The utterly generic nature of the tweet, combined with the lack of any context, robs the message of any real meaning.
I certainly hope that the President himself isn’t spending time tweeting; he’s got better things to do. I suggest, however, that he tell his ghosttweeter to leave the political commentary to actual speeches, where some explanation can occur. Otherwise, the President is going to come across like a bad parody of the “Deep Thoughts with Jack Handey” that used to appear on Saturday Night Live.