Murphy turned out to have a skill that the older, more experienced Democrats in the Senate do not: Twitter-trolling a president whose own genius for 140-character media manipulation has entirely transformed the idea of the presidential bully pulpit.
Like it or not, appropriating Trump’s confrontational Twitter style is the future of the Democratic Party, says Murphy, and one that too many Democrats are still ignoring as they continue to fail to come to grips with Trump’s election victory. In a new interview for The Global Politico, our weekly podcast on world affairs, Murphy says he and others need to channel the “authenticity” that Hillary Clinton lacked on the campaign trail – and acknowledge the “fairly revolutionary mood” that brought Trump to power. Murphy’s tweets “are just me typing out legitimate, real, emotional frustration with what this president is doing and saying,” he tells me, “and I think as a general matter, more Democrats should do.”
This became clear within days of Trump’s inauguration, when Murphy hit upon a simple, inflammatory and instantly viral response to Trump’s executive order temporarily banning refugees. He tweeted a heartbreaking, iconic photo of a dead Syrian boy from a couple years back, washed up on a Greek beach seeking safe haven. “To my colleagues,” he wrote, “don’t ever again lecture me on American moral leadership if you chose to be silent today.” Outraged conservatives fumed that the photo was from Barack Obama’s presidency, not Trump’s. TV shows talked about it. News articles were written.