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Sean Parnell: My secret 'other life' as a war hero, author and Republican candidate


As Sean Parnell writes, having the same name as a war hero turned Republican candidate has made Twitter a minefield.

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Two years ago, former TV Superman Dean Cain took to Twitter to declare: “In my opinion, @SeanParnell has every right –”

To which I, @SeanParnell on that social media network, replied “ – to forward your endorsement to @SeanParnellUSA (unless this was a Clark Kent thing meant for me?)”

It was indeed a compliment intended for the man with the three extra letters at the end of his Twitter handle. Sean Parnell USA, Afghan war hero, with three letters on his handle and three medals on his chest (two Bronze stars and the Purple Heart).

Cain (@RealDeanCain) and I had some fun with the mix-up. Most times, I refer the more constructive comments on to Parnell USA, especially the ex-servicemen and their families who reach out and deserve support. Of course, some of the non-specific compliments coming my way from the USA could possibly maybe possibly still be for me. Maybe?

For example, while Parnell USA wrote several popular war books, I could easily take a vague, misdirected tweet as praise for my unpopular book, Clive: The Story of Clive Palmer. My book could be going off in America by now.

When Parnell USA said something good on radio or TV, I would get random comments from people backing my stance on unnamed issues, which I felt was only appropriate. I have good opinions sometimes.

Often I would tweet something and get a “like” from the US, presumably someone with an interest in the random musings of a Brisbane journo, family man, and captain of an ageing E-grade men’s touch football team.

But then, Parnell USA announced he was running for Congress in Pennsylvania as a Republican candidate. As a sometime political reporter, previously mistaken on social media for Alaskan Governor @SeanParnellAK , I knew Twitter would be all over this.

Before long, Steve sent me a direct message (DM) to complain that my site was “not allowing me to donate as it is asking for a state”. (I have a website, but it does not take donations. Yet.)

Jimmy also had a problem with “unbelievable Google not letting me pull up your website”.

“It pulls up Chinese gambling site. Please check. Know it’s intentional.”

(I should definitely upgrade my site to accept US dollars rather than see Jimmy and Steve waste money on Chinese gambling sites)

In a DM, Jill asked if I remembered her – I don’t – and wanted my address. She said “anyway a big donor I know wants to donate to ur campsign (sic) but he wants to send a check”.

While I considered whether by campsign she meant a rainbow flag or something fun like Camp Notaworry she replied “never mind … gave a check to ur dad!” which is a worry because my dad’s been dead nearly 40 years.

But there is a dark side to all this. Like Twitter, and politics, it can get a bit weird and messy.

Someone mistakenly added me to a DM chat group of Republican candidates, run by an anonymous lady avatar. At first, it was funny to see middle-aged candidates being all charming to her in private, but something seemed odd about the whole affair so I left. If there’s going to be foreign interference in the US election it will be the anonymous lady avatar, not this guy from Australia who shouldn’t even be in the group.

A lawyer with a private Twitter account recently sent me a DM, telling me about her eight-year-old son, making him an example of who I am fighting for. Who Parnell USA is fighting for.

“He’s a blonde haired, blue eyed All American boy. Fancies himself a warrior in training. Pretends to be a soldier. As my husband drove us home, I watched your video on America at war on my phone. From the backseat I hear, “take THAT Democrats! We are definitely voting for this guy.”

This is serious.

Thankfully, President Donald J Trump (@realDonaldTrump) has somehow managed to remember the three letters at the end of his candidate’s name whenever he posts messages of support (even I did not think “Sean Parnell is a Star” was meant for me).

But it worries me that some of Trump’s supporters, who hate the Lamestream Media, decry Fake News and talk of Deep State conspiracies, could so easily get themselves into trouble on Twitter. And the US election is still nearly four months away.

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