There’s no evidence President Trump, in his Twitter persona of @realDonaldTrump, has been paying any attention to Rep. Ted Lieu, D-Calif., or even to @tedlieu. He hasn’t replied to any of the second-term congressman’s provocative tweets, hasn’t bothered to insult or attack him and hasn’t unleashed on him the army of trollbots supposedly working in the service of the Trump campaign.
Others are paying attention — Lieu’s 337,000 followers, at least, representing an increase of hundreds of thousands in the months since he began his campaign of answering the deluge of bombast and untruths from the president’s Twitter account with his own stern correctives.
It’s a thankless job — unless you are, say, a certain 48-year-old minority-party backbencher from Torrance who has been rewarded with newfound stature in his party and increased face time on cable news.
Lieu has positioned himself as somewhat of an authority on the president’s favorite forum. Since Trump’s inauguration, Lieu has drawn attention with a rather caustic Twitter presence, offering his “thoughts and views on what’s happening right now in America — and every now and then, Game of Thrones.”
In an interview with Yahoo News, Lieu drew a distinction between the “very classy and polished office account” run by his staff, which exists primarily to promote his legislative agenda and media appearances, and his personal account, which exists primarily to bash the president with frequent rogue missives that have spurred “multiple interventions.”
Here's a cheat sheet for your 1st overseas visit.
— Rep. Ted Lieu (@RepTedLieu) May 19, 2017
Based on Ivanka Trump example, I'm going to ask Speaker Ryan if my son can sit in for me at the next House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing https://t.co/ZbApdkYixL
— Ted Lieu (@tedlieu) July 8, 2017
— Ted Lieu (@tedlieu) July 18, 2017
Lieu has found an unlikely muse in the target of his ire. His tweets often echo the president’s style and sometimes his language as part of an attempt to mock him and “highlight how inappropriate the president’s tweets are by making inappropriate tweets myself.”
“I never in my dreams thought I would ever call the president of the United States ‘dumb as a rock,’” Lieu offered as an example, referencing an insult Trump hurled at Mika Brzezinski in July. Lieu has now made use of the phrase 13 times.
The congressman conceded that while he’s “horrified” by Trump’s activity on Twitter, it does grant an opportunity to “learn about the way the president’s mind works.”
Asked whether that’s necessarily positive, Lieu paused before answering, “I think it’s better that we know.”
“Ultimately I would rather not be doing this,” Lieu said solemnly of his self-assigned role as the anti-Trump. “I do not want to be in this position where I am resisting and ridiculing the president of the United States. I want to be able to be proud of our president.”
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