Former Massachusetts Republican senator Scott Brown's late-night tweeting has people talking.
Early Saturday morning (i.e. after midnight Friday), Brown's Twitter account featured a string of odd tweets responding to critics, making prominent use of the word "whatever" and using poor spelling and grammar.
The tweets have led to all kind of speculation -- theories which we're not going to repeat here, but we're sure you can guess -- and "#Bqhatevwr" was trending as a hashtag for a time. The tweets have since been deleted from Brown's Twitter account, and Brown has resumed tweeting about other things without another word about it all.
He clearly believes he can simply ignore the tweeting incident. But that is a politically untenable position. Brown needs to say something -- and the sooner the better.
For Brown, the situation is troublesome for four reasons:
1) He, for some reason, saw fit to respond to Twitter trolls with a comeback The Fix last heard/used in high school. (The Fix, a regular target of Twitter hate, understands the desire to respond to these bomb-throwers. But to do so and then not offer any explanation seems odd.)
2) He deleted the tweets.
3) He and his staff aren't commenting on it, including when The Fix inquired on Sunday and Monday.
4) He had the misfortune of mis-tweeting a word, "Bqhatevwr," that was basically born to be an Internet meme.
The fact is that Brown has the kind of regular-guy image that could make something like this relatively easy to explain away. In fact, in a fortuitous turn, the Boston Herald on Saturday just happened to run a story about how informal Brown's tweeting habits have been.
It's not hard to imagine what Brown's defense might be: 'I was at home, a little tired, and I saw some things that I felt I needed to respond to,' etc., etc. And from there, it's up to people to decide whether they believe him. Or he might say that someone else was tweeting from his account. Whatever. Almost any explanation makes this a non-story.
By deleting the tweets and not saying anything, though, Brown only feeds the robust rumor mill that is Twitter. And while the vast majority of Americans aren't on Twitter, the vast majority of political types and journalists are. Quite frankly, Twitter matters in the broader political discussion, since what is big on Twitter almost always penetrates into the political dialogue.
(Case in point: President Obama mentioning Treasury Secretary nominee Jack Lew's ridiculous signature in announcing his selection.)
And given that we're still waiting on Brown to announce whether he'll run for Sen. John Kerry's (D-Mass.) Senate seat in the looming special election, it's not like people are just going to move on. Brown and whatever decision he makes are a big story, so people are interested in anything/everything about him at the moment.
None of the above is to say this is a really big deal, and Democrats need to be careful about over-playing their hand. But by being silent about it, Brown is allowing it to become a big(ger) deal.