Correction Appended June 23, 2009
Pity Pete Hoekstra. His only crime was to make the oh-so-obvious comparison between oppressed Iranians and the GOP. "Iranian twitter activity similar to what we did in House last year when Republicans were shut down in the House," the Michigan Congressman, who is running for governor, tweeted June 17.
Shockingly, the parallels between Iran's attempts to gag the press and Nancy Pelosi's decision to adjourn Congress before taking a vote on an energy bill last August were lost on the Twitterati. Out of a torrent of mocking tweets came the site Hoekstraisameme.com, which compiles parodies posted by other users who fail to empathize with Hoekstra's plight. The site manages to turn the congressman's name into both a verb and a noun at once: "To Hoekstra is to whine using grandiose exaggerations and comparisons," it asserts, while also inviting users to "submit your Hoekstra."
Hokestraisameme bears more than a passing resemblance to absurdist viral classics like icanhazcheezburger.com and failblog.org. And that's no accident: all three, as it turns out, are the domain of Seattle-based meme guru Ben Huh, 31. One of his staffers sent him a link to Hoekstra's original tweet, Huh says, and as the responses started flowing in he immediately saw meme potential in Hoekstra's juxtaposition of the horrific and the banal. "You can't really explain why it's funny, but it is," he says. Huh has not yet heard from Hoekstra, but he expects the congressman to be overwhelmed by satirical posts next time he logs online. "I'm pretty sure when he finally checks his Twitter account, he's going to find tens of thousands of these," Huh says.
A few gems:
Stealingfrom: @petehoekstra Sitting in a chair, feeling a good deal like Stephen Hawking. #GOPfail
HarrisW: I just lo[s]t at a game of Jenga. Now I know what it was like to be there on 9/11. @petehoekstra
tgkillfile: @petehoekstra Stuck inside working from home today. Now I know how Anne Frank felt.
MattOrtega: RT @petehoekstra Walked out onto Constitution Ave in D.C. and was almost hit by a taxi. Reminded me of Tienanmen Square.
_DeadBattery: @petehoekstra I splashed my face with cold water this morning after shaving which is similar to having been waterboarded.
PMcClellan: @petehoekstra Walked around a lot yesterday. Now I know what the Bataan Death March was like.
Hoekstra has had his problems with Twitter before: last February, he tweeted his whereabouts while touching down into Baghdad on a trip that was supposed to be kept secret for security reasons. His office did not return a request for comment, but the congressman may be taking some time to rethink his new media strategy since the June 17 post. It took him two days to tweet again.
The original story stated that Rep. Hoekstra had not posted on Twitter since his June 17 tweet about Iran. In fact, as of posting time, he had posted one additional time.