In or out of the House, Dingell at home on Twitter
DETROIT (AP) — Right up until the end, John Dingell wouldn’t go down without a fight — or a tweet.
The longest-serving member of Congress in American history, who died on Thursday at age 92, boasted more than 250,000 followers on the account he started in 2010. After his wife, current Rep. Debbie Dingell, tweeted Wednesday — the day before he died — that she was home with him and they had “entered a new phase” as he was receiving hospice care, news stories proliferated.
Well wishes poured in. John Dingell even gained about 4,000 more followers. He said in a tweet later Wednesday he was grateful but not giving up.
“The Lovely Deborah is insisting I rest and stay off here, but after long negotiations we’ve worked out a deal where she’ll keep up with Twitter for me as I dictate the messages,” his tweet said. “I want to thank you all for your incredibly kind words and prayers. You’re not done with me just yet.”
Dingell, who announced in early 2014 he would not run for a 30th full term representing a district covering some of Detroit’s suburbs and the Ann Arbor area, was long known for his wry takes and quick wit alongside his mastery of legislative deal-making. But the outspoken Democrat’s social media musings drew widespread interest and kept him au courant.
“Buddy, I think you might want to sit this one out,” came a tweet by Dingell on Feb. 2 that was addressed to President Donald Trump. The commander in chief said the man who ran against Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam should “be thinking Malpractice and Dereliction of Duty with regard to his Opposition Research Staff” after the revelation a photo of two men in blackface and KKK costumes was put on Northam’s medical school yearbook page back in 1984.
Dingell never held his fire or ire for Trump on Twitter. But it doesn’t appear Trump ever tweeted about Dingell until Friday, sending “deepest sympathies” to the Dingell family.
“Longest serving Congressman in Country’s history which, if people understand politics, means he was very smart,” Trump’s tweet said.
Dingell tweeted often last year in support of Democratic candidates in the midterm elections. He even offered some incentive to GOP lawmakers to step aside: “To my Republican friends in Congress: Retirement is a blast. Naps. Snacks. Join me.”
Dingell also used the social media machine to play nice. A man named Mike tweeted to Dingell, “I never liked you when I was a young, dumb Republican,” but came to see him as “part of a vanishing breed of legislators who worked with each other, respected each other and, in most cases, liked each other.” Dingell thanked him and added, “No matter our party affiliation, we are all in the same boat. We cannot turn to our neighbor and say ‘I’m sorry but your end of the boat is sinking.'”