Cher is a household name. Grover Norquist is not.
Cher, the singer, actress, activist and gay icon, never holds back. She has often come under fire for her outspokenness, and her boldness is no different on Twitter, where she has more than 600,000 followers.
Norquist is the conservative founder and president of Americans for Tax Reform. Political junkies and politicos know him, but the random man or woman on the street probably don't. It’s almost a guarantee they would know Cher.
Cher and Norquist are in a Twitter tete-a-tete. Cher often mixes politics into her tweets, and that doesn’t sit so well with Norquist.
On May 3, Cher tweeted: “Whats the difference between Mitt Romney & a Jellyfish??? NOTHING ! Whats the difference between Grover Norquist & the Devil ?? SAME THING !”
Norquist, who only has 22,000 followers, responded Friday night: “Hi Cher. get some sleep.”
He clearly wants her attention. According to his tweet history, he hadn’t addressed her previously. Although on May 3, he did tweet a response to Bette Midler who asked: “The question is, who has damaged the country more, Karl Rove or Grover Norquist?”
Norquist replied, “Nice to hear from you Bette.”
Twitter, what a strange invention. It connects fans to stars and stars to politicos with one press of the button. But a social network like Cher’s can also inform, and shape, the less-informed voter who might not follow every twist on the 2012 political trail.
On that same day, Cher tweeted, “Saw mitt Romney & wife on tv(He Takes Her With him Everywhere He Goes..She's like His MOMMIE)She was wearing 1000k TShirt,Lota $$ 4 a tshirt.”
Granted, Cher doesn’t consider grammar or punctuation when she tweets. But who cares? She’s Cher, not an English professor.
When a fan tweeted that he wished he knew more about politics so he could tweet with Cher, she recommended that he watch “The Daily Show,” Stephen Colbert and Rachel Maddow. She confessed in another tweet that she loves MSNBC Hardball host Chris Matthews.
Like many stars, Cher has the ability to activate hundreds of thousands of fans – gay and straight – and the showbiz network to appear on any television show and discuss politics even if she is wearing sequins and wigs while doing so. That was the case in 2008 when she initially supported Hillary Clinton in the primaries before campaigning for Barack Obama in the general election. Someone like Cher can be a very high profile opponent to the GOP agenda.
It’s very tempting to have a trigger finger on social media and respond or retweet before thinking. For example, Norquist retweeted an insulting tweet about Roseanne Barr soon after he tweeted Cher. “Remember when you had friends and things to do on a Friday night? The 80's are long gone...” the tweet stated.
But Barr had no time for Norquist on Saturday. She was engaged in a Twitter war with conservative pundit Michelle Malkin, who Cher has previously tweeted. Barr tweeted, “michelle, let's have a beer-it might be fun-if you can keep it on the map-let's do it-what do you say?”
A star’s influence shouldn’t be underestimated. Entertainers have a power that cannot be bought with ads, mailers or robo calls. They influence in a genuine manner, and their followers enjoy having a connection to a star via a tweet, especially if they get a direct response.
Norquist may want to think twice before engaging more stars, say, social media goddess Lady Gaga who recently recorded a duet with Cher. She has more than 24 million Twitter followers. Her fans, known as Little Monsters, are rabid and loyal to the point of obsession. If she tells them to vote or retweet, they will.
Will Obama win the election solely on Cher’s tweets? Of course not. But he very well could pick up some votes that he otherwise may not have. As anyone in politics knows, every vote counts.
Suzi Parker is an Arkansas-based political and cultural journalist and author of “Sex in the South: Unbuckling the Bible Belt.” Follow her on Twitter at @SuziParker