By Larry Johnson
U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley once seemed like a decent sort.
Thirty years ago, the Iowa Republican seemed to be a no-nonsense fiscal conservative who was always mildly cantakerous but the sort of guy you’d never be close friends with, but one you could work with on a project.
I covered Grassley occasionally when I was a journalist in Iowa. We shared a birthday, if not a political perspective. (I had to keep mine to myself, anyway.) He didn’t especially cater to journalists, the way some politicians did, but that was fine with me. I wasn’t a tough guy, but I was no Sean Hannity, either.
Grassley was a conservative farmer who morphed into a politician at some point in his life. I don’t remember him with many opinions on social issues, but he could be hard on the Pentagon if he thought they spent foolishly. He protected whistleblowers, and because Iowa is a mix of liberals and conservatives, sometimes seemed to balance Iowa’s progressives in a way that wasn’t too objectionable, even when he wouldn’t have been your first choice.
He’s now 87, and serving his SEVENTH term in the Senate to go with previous stints in the U.S. House and Iowa Legislature. He’s third in line for succession to the presidency, after the Vice-President and Speaker of the House.
He has also been a major enabler of Donald Trump. Always deadpan, Grassley has been more adept than some at explaining, with a straight face why President Obama’s appointment to the Supreme Court should wait until after the 2016 election, or why whistleblowers now may not be as significant as they once were.
Still, you’d think people might give Grassley more of a pass than they did on Twitter Friday and Saturday. Grassley graduated from the University of Northern Iowa, and took to Twitter to cry a little about UNI not getting to play the University of Iowa in football this fall after the Big 10 canceled the non-conference season because of COVID-19 concerns.
Here was Grassley:
Very disappointed by the Big Ten making a decision that non conference games can’t be played Don’t they realize the Cy-Hawk game is a lot more interesting than many big ten games?? Especially disappointed Iowa can’t play MY UNIVERSITY uni BIG DISAPPOINTMENT
People literally jumped all OVER Grassley. Their topics, among others, were Trump, the economy, COVID-19, and bounties on the heads of American soldiers.
Here was one response:
“32% of Americans couldn’t make their June home payments. But I’m so so so sorry for YOUR loss, Chuck.”
“Yeah, my mom died from it in late May, but this really puts things in proper perspective. My heart breaks for Chuck.”
I could go on and on but. If you want, you can look it up yourself. In fairness, Twitter is a cesspool. Grassley’s post got a lot of likes, too. But the vigorous nastiness of the responses isn’t just a product of Twitter. It also shows that between his tone-deaf Tweet and his toadying to Trump, many Iowans don’t see him an any sort of Iowa elder statesman.