On Thursday, following Donald Trump’s Wednesday press conference house representative Randy Weber took to Twitter (our country’s new official communication platform) to express his belief that CNN journalist Jim Acosta should be fired and prohibited from all future pressers. Jim Acosta during the press conference had repeatedly attempted to get president-elect Donald Trump to take a question but after identifying himself as being from CNN Trump declined the request saying pointedly “you’re fake news”. Rep. Weber’s tweet came the following day and while Jim Acosta will almost certainly not be fired from CNN, Weber’s tweet signals a far more troubling potential trend on the eve of the Trump presidency.
Not a particularly noteworthy politician, Randy Weber began his career as the founder of an Air Conditioning company in Texas and moved into politics originally as a city councilman in Pearland, Texas where he served for six years. In 2008 Weber was elected to the Texas House of Representatives after Mike O’Day who had beaten him back in 2006 decided to retire. Finally, in 2012 when Ron Paul decided to retire Weber ran for the U.S House of Representatives in Texas’ 14th congressional district. It’s something of Weber’s calling card that he’s basically the guy who shows up whenever he hears that someone is retiring to take their place and this kind of lazy opportunism has defined most of his political career.
Perhaps Weber’s biggest claim to fame came in 2014 when during President Obama’s State of the Union Address he tweeted (notice a pattern?) several times insulting the president and calling him a “socialist dictator”. Obviously Weber did not see this as “disruptive” or “disrespectful” since present day Weber would have called for his own resignation. Later in 2015 Weber again took to Twitter to criticize the Obama administration’s response to the terror attacks in Paris with a timely and not-at-all disrespectful Hitler joke.
While both Weber and the president-elect are guilty of bombastic and offensive commentary on Twitter it’s the relationship between the two now highlighted in Weber’s most recent tweet that is cause for alarm. Trump’s ongoing characterization of the media as a dishonest enemy has given validation and license to relative unknowns like Randy Weber who already harbor some off-color tendencies to speak up and lash out. Seeing an administration and president who share their disdain for political correctness and professionalism, low ranking party members like Weber are now seeing an opportunity to curry favor with Trump and his supporters by echoing and amplifying extreme and outlandish calls for action against the perceived enemies of Donald Trump.
Donald Trump’s obsession with Twitter has made the platform a buzzing focal point for his supporters and officials looking to cozy up with the president-elect. This swarming hive of alt-right, GOP and layman commentary has made the task of policing and monitoring the dialogue nearly impossible for the mainstream media and Democrats who still rely on more institutionalized press. The air of triviality that the press and Democrats continue to dismiss social media with has only helped to shield these passing flashes of alarming, authoritarian suggestion now regularly boiling up from within the GOP rank and file.
It would have been easy enough back in 2014 and 2015 to guess what kind of person Randy Weber truly was based on his Twitter activity but now in 2016 it seems that his deplorable tweets may actually be an asset as he jockeys for position within a GOP that must contend both with and around Donald Trump. It’s safe to say that the next four years will only see the rise of more conservative representatives making outrageous claims and rallying increasingly absurd calls to action in the name of Trump’s administration.