Greg Abbott Thanks “Retard Barbie” Tweeter, Offers No Apology to Wendy Davis

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Greg Abbott's twitter feed speaks in first person, but if the Attorney General is doing his own tweets his campaign may want to rethink its social media strategy. Just a week after Erick Erickson of Red State refused to apologize for calling Wendy Davis an “Abortion Barbie,” Abbott thanked a supporter who called Wendy Davis an “idiot” and a “Retard Barbie.”

There are a couple of acceptable ways to handle trolls on twitter, you ignore them or you correct and make an example out of them — Greg Abbott did neither. Thanking someone for their support who is being intentionally and aggressively offensive brings legitimacy to their actions.

The Twitter backlash from his original response was enough to get the AG to revisit the statement but not enough for an apology…

See Abbott's response and what else the original offender is saying…The Twitter backlash from his original response was enough to get the AG to revisit the statement but not enough for an apology, “FYI: I thank supporters on Twitter, but I don't endorse anyone's offense language. Stay positive.” There is a big difference between not endorsing and actively denouncing it, which would really have been the only acceptable response.

It is also worth pointing out that in his thank you tweet he included the hashtags #TGDN and #tcot, but they were absent in his explanation. TCOT, or “Top Conservatives on Twitter” is pretty self explanatory but, the “Twitter Gulag Defense Network” is something much more sinister.  Following the hashtag is like taking a walk under the bridge to conspiracy island — trolls everywhere. That is the idea, not just to own the conversation but to silence the otherside by “spam blocking” any progressive or liberals who engage in tweets with “#TGDN.” Is this where the Republican front-runner for Governor is building his online base? If so expect things to get a lot sleazier.

So far Abbott's handling of the situation isn't helping to dispel the Democrats' complaints of misogyny, or that there is a right wing-led war on women. Abbott should take note that dismissive and objectifying comments by a Republican male opponent is how the last Democratic female took over the governor's mansion. Texas Democratic Party Chair Gilberto Hinojosa released a statement saying, “The people of Texas deserves so much better than this from their public officials. And the women of Texas deserve leaders who respect them as human beings.”

So who is the Greg Abbott supporter? His name is Jeff Rutledge an attorney whose website claims, “integrity at every step,” yet in less than 140 characters he managed to degrade both women and the special needs community. But he didn't stop there, after receiving his own criticism he accused his political foes of being products of incest. Rutledge tweeted, “Not your brother; you can tell b/c my Mom & Dad weren't related – bet you can't say that. Lib retard. #TGDN #tcot.” Again with the #TGDN hashtag, threatening to block the victims of his verbal abuse should they chose to respond.

Texas is a diverse state that is a majority women, so Abbott should really question the type of support he wants online, because all the money in the world won't change the way people feel about what they can see for free.



About Author

Joe Deshotel

Joe was born and raised in Beaumont, Tx, but live music and politics brought him to Austin. He has worked in and around government and elections for over a decade including for a member of US Congress, the Texas Legislature, the Mayor of Austin. He currently serves as Communications Director for the Travis County Democratic Party. He is most interested in transportation, energy and technology issues. He also likes Texas Hold'em and commuting on his electric skateboard. Follow me on Twitter at @joethepleb.

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