Tamás Deutsch, an MEP from Hungary's ruling Fidesz party best known for his exuberant use of Twitter, is going global. The latest target of his ire is Thomas Melia, a deputy assistant secretary of state in the United States government. Like many of his colleagues (including his boss, Hillary Clinton), Mr Melia is worried about the erosion of democratic checks and balances in Hungary since Fidesz took office last year.
In late June Mrs Clinton expressed her concerns at a joint appearance in Budapest with Viktor Orbán, the Hungarian prime minister. She called for "a real commitment to the independence of the judiciary, a free press, and governmental transparency".
Building on this theme, last week Mr Melia told a committee of the House of Representatives of his "significant concern" over Hungary's "democratic trajectory". Calling on Fidesz to "temper the pace of change", Mr Melia drew particular attention to a new law that he said could damage religious freedom in Hungary.
Mr Deutsch wasted no time in responding. His tweet translated roughly as "Who the fuck is Thomas Melia and why do we have to deal with this kind of shit every day?"
Yet this was comparatively tame compared to a previous effort, in which Mr Deutsch, describing a previous (Socialist) Hungarian prime minister, wrote:
"There are pieces of shit. There are vile people. There are malevolent madmen. There are revolting dribbles of semen. There are disgusting rotters. And there is Gyurcsány."
This time, however, Mr Deutsch may have cause to regret his haste. As Hungarian Spectrum, a liberal blog, points out, Mr Deutsch and his fellow Fidesz activists owe a lot to Mr Melia.
As his biography on the State Department website notes, Mr Melia has more than 25 years' experience in promoting democracy and human rights. He managed the National Democratic Institute's programmes for central and eastern Europe during the crucial years of change, from 1988 to 1993.
He and his colleagues trained Fidesz politicians how to run an election campaign, and even brought some of them to the United States. They did a good job: the young activists, including Mr Deutsch, won 21 seats in Hungary’s first free elections, in 1990. The new MPs were so pleased with their success that they signed a poster and sent it to Mr Melia.
Still, at least Mr Deutsch has a self-deprecating sense of humour. Soon after sharing his opinion on Mr Melia, he tweeted one of Bertrand Russell’s best-known quotes: “The fundamental cause of trouble in the world today is that the stupid are cocksure while the intelligent are full of doubt”.http://www.economist.com/blogs/easternapproaches/2011/08/fideszs-antics