Does Trump keep track of who kisses his ass on Twitter? And if so, how would he do that – with 100 Senators, 435 Congressional representatives, and 55 governors? That’s nearly 600 people who may or may not be kissing his ass. Could an automated tracking system be developed?
I began asking these questions more than three years ago, not long after I started following Rep. Andy Biggs on Twitter. Biggs represents Arizona’s 5th District, which is where I vote (even though I live in Madagascar).
Well, really my first reaction to being a Biggs follower on Twitter was, Eew! This is the most cringy public mancrush I’ve ever witnessed. The empirical political questions came after that.
As a proof of concept, I created a system to automatically track whenever an Arizona lawmaker (Congress, Senate, or Governor) mentions a Trump Twitter account (@realDonaldTrump, @POTUS, or @WhiteHouse). And I started scoring every tweet for its asskissery, on a scale of 0 (neutral) to positive 3 (maximum brownnose) and also down to negative 3 (maximum disparagement).
An explanation of the scoring is below, but for now…
Arizona’s POTUS Ass Kissing Scores
The system has been running since March 12, 2020. The mentions are updated automatically. The scoring is updated at least once a day. (Come back often.)
For the State Championship: Biggs vs Gosar
For the first 25 days that this system was running, Rep. Biggs had a strong lead, but I could see that Rep. Paul Gosar was closing the gap.
Then I discovered that Gosar had a second Twitter account he’d also been using to truckle Trump. When I retroactively added those tweets into my system, Biggs fell behind.
Sure, Andy Biggs is a toady and a jackass. (I eagerly signed the first petition for a candidate wanting to run against him this year. I don’t remember who it was; it could just as well have been a Cocker Spaniel.) But Andy Biggs is my jackass toady – Go District 5! And I confess, I don’t like seeing Biggs bested by two-bit dentist-cum-congressman who was disowned by his own family.
I’ve been watching Biggs’ one-sided bromance with Trump for a long time now. And I can tell you that I know he loves Trump more than Paul Gosar does. Biggs can blow Trump three kisses in a single tweet – he’s done this many times. Has Gosar ever done that? No he hasn’t.
[UPDATE May 14, 2020: Rep. Biggs surpassed Rep. Gosar’s Ass Kiss Score]
I imagined how his heart leapt that one time Trump mentioned him on Twitter. Trump had written a tweet praising someone else, and still had 69 characters to spare, so he mentioned Biggs almost as an afterthought. Still…
Remember that time Trump got booed at the Washington National’s World Series game? Andy Biggs was there with him. He put on a brave face, but I know he was dying inside. For me, it was like watching my kid, finally getting to hang out with the social clique he aspires to join. The Alpha Male, at long last, lets him tag along to the mall. Then all the other kids at the mall surround them and tell them that they’re assholes. Evening ruined. Poor kid.
Biggs deserves to win this “contest.” But I won’t tweak my system to make it so. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but Andy Biggs needs to kiss more Trump ass.
But not just him…
Governor Ducey: Step up your ass-kissing game!
Originally I wasn’t tracking tweets from Arizona Governor Doug Ducey in this system. Then, on March 28, Trump said he wanted governors to “be appreciative” of his response to the coronavirus pandemic. So now ass kissing may be a matter of life or death.
Gov. Ducey is an appreciative guy. He tweets appreciation a lot. But after Trump explicitly asked for gubernatorial ass kissing, it took the governor four days to express gratitude to Trump when requesting a Presidential Major Disaster Declaration for Arizona. Four days! Can he not pucker up any faster than that?
I’ve seen no evidence (yet) that Trump is evaluating the distribution of federal aid based on whether state governors fawn over him. But he said what he said. This a president who was willing to let Ukrainians die if he didn’t get the political favor he wanted. Do you think he wouldn’t slow walk aid to Arizona if Gov. Ducey doesn’t kiss up some more?
As of this writing, Ducey ‘s Ass Kiss Score is behind House back-bencher Rep. Debbie Freaking Lesko. What’s with the underachieving?
Update 4/14/2020: Ducey and Lesko are now equal in their overall Ass Kiss Scores.
The Gallego Factor
Rep. Ruben Gallego is the anti-Paul Gosar, but without an anti-Andy Biggs for competition. All by himself, Gallego drags down the average Arizona Ass Kiss score about one full point.
The rest of Arizona’s elected Democrats (Rep’s Grijalva, Kirkpatrick, O’Halleran, Stanton, and Sen. Sinema) seem largely to play by the rule, “If you can’t tweet something nice about Trump, don’t tweet anything at all.”
But not Ruben Gallego.
Remember that my maximum Ass Kiss Score is 3, the maximum disparagement score is -3, and a neutral score is 0. As of this writing, the average Ass Kiss Score among all officials is only about 1 (barely an ass kiss at all). But if you take out the Gallego Factor – all of his Trump trash talk – the average Ass Kiss Score more than doubles.
(Check the live data above to see the current average Ass Kiss Score with and without the Gallego Factor.)
And the Rest… McSally and Schweikert
Sen. Martha McSally and Rep. David Schweikert – both Republicans – are hardly on the game board. But their problem is quantity, not quality. Their average Ass Kiss Scores currently are higher than even Biggs’ and Gosar’s. They are both active on Twitter, but they just don’t mention Trump’s Twitter accounts nearly enough to catch up.
How the Scoring Works
I didn’t want my scoring system to be too nuanced. So I kept it as simple and unambiguous as I could. Still, sometimes there are tough calls. When a tweet is in a gray area, I usually defer towards a neutral score.
For example: In this tweet from Rep. Gosar, he didn’t say that he approved of Trump’s announcement, but I assume he does. And if a Democrat had tweeted this exact thing, I would assume they disapproved. So I scored this as a 0 – neutral.
For all of these scores, the positive number is used when kissing ass, the corresponding negative number is used when denigrating Trump.
Original Tweet or “Retweet with Comment”
These ply for Trump’s attention – and the officials put effort into these tweets (typing with their fingers). And these tweets attract the most attention from people who follow the official.
Lazy Pro-Trump Retweet
When all they do is retweet, without adding any value – not even a thumbs-up emoji – that’s a half-assed ass kiss. But it usually signals approval. (I’m not even sure if there’s a disapproving way of doing this, unless your followers understand the implied “Can you believe this shit?”)
Back and Forth Banter in the Tweet Replies
If the official gets into a discussion/argument with some other Twitter user in the tweet comments, the Trump account is still copied on every reply. These take effort – thought even. But they don’t have quite the visibility and ass-kiss impact of an Original Tweet or a “Retweet with Comment.” And sometimes these tweets don’t make much sense out of context.
Mentioning or Retweeting Trump for the Sake of Mentioning or Retweeting Trump
In effect, this is when one of them doesn’t say “good morning” on their own, but instead says, “Let it be known that I concur with Trump’s good morning wishes.” There’s no reason to do this other than to kiss Trump’s ass.
Sometimes Trump’s tweets and retweets are actually informative, with no petty attacks, no self-aggrandizement, and actual facts. (Really, this happens.) When one of these rarities are retweeted, I don’t count it as an ass kiss.
The #AZPOTUSAssKissContest is on!
Have I proved the concept? That it is possible for Trump to track all of the ass kissing he gets from elected officials? Maybe. The scoring would be really tedious if all 600 officials were being tracked, but it’s doable.
I’ll continue tracking and scoring these tweets until I get bored or too depressed by what I see. I’ve created a Twitter hashtag: #AZPOTUSAssKissContest to occasionally let my elected officials know how they are faring.
If you are interested in how I set this up, send me a message.