A Perfect Representative

Okay–I can’t resist. Let’s talk about Matt Gaetz–not because of his evident sexual misdeeds, but because even without considering those, he is an almost perfect example of  the caliber of individual representing today’s GOP.

Gail Collins captured his essence in a recent New York Times column.

As it stands, Gaetz is a spectacularly unproductive Florida Republican who never managed, during his first two terms in the House, to get a single bill that he sponsored signed into law. (We are still crossing our fingers for that post-office-naming he co-sponsored.) Meanwhile, by Forbes’s count, he has appeared on Fox News at least 179 times since taking office.

Collins had a lot of snarky fun comparing Gaetz’ current situation to past scandals (Tidal Basin, anyone?), but most of those involved people who had actually accomplished something–people of at least some substance who betrayed their promise or otherwise fell from grace.

Gaetz–whom Collins accurately calls a “fanboy”–spent the Trump years with his attention  focused on building his “personal brand,” rather than on learning the intricacies of legislating, or  forging relationships in Congress. He was much more interested in getting on television and getting close to the new president.( He was especially interested in being on what one colleague called “The Trump Train.”) There are multiple reports that he bragged about his relationship with Trump and about his own sexual “exploits”–including reports that he repeatedly showed Congressional colleagues pictures of naked women with whom he claimed he’d slept.

A CNN article listed some of the reasons Gaetz is considered “unserious” by even his Republican colleagues. (“Unserious” is a nicer word than “asshole.”)

Gaetz courted controversy in numerous ways, earning him notoriety in the House — along with television appearances in conservative media.

In 2018, he was criticized after he invited a conservative troll with a history of Holocaust denial to the State of the Union.

A year later, Gaetz threatened Trump’s former fixer Michael Cohen ahead of his 2019 House testimony, tweeting, “Do your wife & father-in-law know about your girlfriends? Maybe tonight would be a good time for that chat.”

He was admonished by the House Ethics Committee and investigated and cleared by the Florida Bar over the tweet, which he deleted and apologized for.

During the House’s first impeachment inquiry, Gaetz led a band of Republicans in a stunt to “storm” the House Intelligence secure committee spaces where the impeachment interviews were being held. And last year, Gaetz wore a gas mask on the House floor to vote on a coronavirus funding package.

 In other words, Gaetz is a perfect representation of today’s Republican Party. He is obviously uninterested in governing. Instead, he seems intent upon performative “conservatism” aka “culture war.”  

In that–if not the behavior that led to his current legal problems–he is a typical Republican.

An opinion piece by Ezra Klein included a perfect description of today’s iteration of the GOP. Klein was trying to explain Joe Biden’s unanticipated willingness to forsake efforts to persuade Congressional Republicans to engage in genuine bipartisanship. 

In a discussion of Mitch McConnell’s role in GOP intransigence, Klein wrote.

Over the past decade, congressional Republicans slowly but completely disabused Democrats of these [bipartisanship] hopes. The long campaign against the ideological compromise that was the Affordable Care Act is central here, but so too was then-Speaker John Boehner’s inability to sell his members on the budget bargain he’d negotiated with President Barack Obama, followed by his refusal to allow so much as a vote in the House on the 2013 immigration bill. And it’s impossible to overstate the damage that Mitch McConnell’s stonewalling of Merrick Garland, followed by his swift action to replace Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, did to the belief among Senate Democrats that McConnell was in any way, in any context, a good-faith actor. They gave up on him completely.

Today’s Congressional GOP is a marriage between terminally unserious “culture warriors” like Gaetz, Nunes, Jim Jordan and their ilk and those who–like Mitch McConnell–are willing to ignore the common good and the needs of the country in their pursuit of self-aggrandizement.

There’s no negotiating with either faction, because they aren’t there to govern.


  1. As someone once said to me, in government and organizations, there are two types of people: work horses and show horses. Gaetz constantly seeks media attention but not as a result of any substantive achievement. He gives show horses a bad name.

  2. Ya think ole Mattie boy likes pizza? You best believe, Papa John’s big daddy is involved somewhere also in this disgusting cesspool of perversion with Jim Jordan orbiting the Trump zone hoping nobody spots his leavings!

    Every filthy disgusting Q-anon conspiracy seems to be based on already active GOP filth! What better way to soften the blow if you get found out than to excoriate your adversaries over something that you’ve done yourself.

    Look at all of the GOP members over the years that roiled against LGBTQ, and then down the road it’s revealed, they’ve been hiding in the closet themselves, living lives of total hypocrisy! Just a bunch of self-loathing self-hating bigots.

  3. During this current stalemate in the transition of our government; Matt Gaetz and all members of both segments of the current Republican party need to be swept out of office…NOT swept under the rug when the distracting publicity dies down. We already seem to have forgotten Ted Cruz fleeing the country at the request his children’s request due to no heat in his house while other Texans struggled to survive the cold. He left his dog but provided security to see that it was surviving.

    This says it all; “Today’s Congressional GOP is a marriage between terminally unserious “culture warriors” like Gaetz, Nunes, Jim Jordan and their ilk and those who–like Mitch McConnell–are willing to ignore the common good and the needs of the country in their pursuit of self-aggrandizement.

    There’s no negotiating with either faction, because they aren’t there to govern.”

  4. Oh sure. Gaetz, and all the rest of the swine in the Republican party are supported by a collection of damned fools who swallowed the hook going all the way back to Reagan/Regan. The Democratic “brand” was made so repugnant to so many of the weaker minds, that they would vote Republican even if their candidates were Satan himself.

    Remember, Jordan and Nunes were just given PMFs by Trump. Talk about weak minds. These particular damned fools will follow their cult leader to hell. That’s where Satan allegedly lives, isn’t it? Does Mar-a-Lago have a river named Styx?

    But now, Biden’s approval rating is bumping against 60%. His initiatives are over 70%. Even gun control is in the majority. Over 70% of the electorate want corporations to pay fair share taxes.

    The bottom line is that the Republicans have nothing by which to sell themselves. Only the remaining fools will vote for the disgusting wretches that are left in the GOP. There really is nothing else. Has there ever been?

  5. I will not be so quick to malign Republicans exclusively for scandals that seem to plague small men when they enter the big show in Washington. It seems a little larceny of character goes a long way to a productive political career on The Hill. The issue with Gaetz is that he simply is irrelevant entirely regarding a legacy of legislative policy. His image has become the Dicksonian characterture of sleeze and evil. His behavior is so base he is not worthy of any identity associated with American politics.

  6. Vernon’s comment, wondering of Mar-a-Lago have a river named Styx, is perfect.

  7. Well, Norris, small men – and women – invite scandals. It’s their smallness that makes them ripe for those scandals. The smaller the person, the greater the scandal potential. See, Chao, Elaine for another perfect example of corruption, sleaze and blatant disregard for ethics. Oh. She’s a Republican too.

  8. As disgusting as the Gaetz dog and pony show is, and as non-productive, there seems to be a large segment of the population that eats up this kind of entertainment and I think would vote for him just because he is “owning the libs”. I think there is section of society that agrees with every point in his manufactured cultural wars and without questioning any of it, would vote for him. With the constant message of government is bad for you, there is a segment of people that are perfectly fine that he has no interest in actually making government function, in fact it is a self fulfilling prophecy.

    So my point is that no matter how obvious it is from this side that people like Gaetz are at ineffective and damaging, there are a ton of people that are going to get bamboozled into voting for idiots like him and until the topic of the last few days posts have been solved (controlling social media, rebuilding actual media). We are going to be stuck with idiots like him and MTG.

  9. Sadly, I think there are many unserious humans in Washington hired by billionaires to play a role while they are fed laws and policies to attach their names to it. I doubt any of them read what is contained in those laws written by corporate lawyers.

    Due to gerrymandering and voter suppression, it is predicted that the GOP will take the house in 2022 without even having to increase its previous voting numbers.

    Our flawed democracy ranking of 25th globally will decline even further as the Imperial march for war against China escalates. Toss in a war with Russia and all these non-serious players are merely useful stooges for the Oligarchy and their military to proceed unimpeded to attack two nuclear-armed players on the global stage.

    And I am certain their propaganda media will do their part without any condemnation of war. Maybe the Oligarchs have decided there are too many humans on the planet negatively impacting the climate so the annihilation of a few hundred million should allow them to avoid taking any extraordinary measures to reduce their carbon footprints.

  10. In our work last year, we came across another lovely who has spent his entire House career “branding” – the swashbuckling SEAL, Dan Crenshaw – another piece of work…

  11. It seems everybody in the country is aware of the goals of the Republicans in the Congress. That is, everybody but Joe Manchin and Krysten Sinema. Manchin seems to be on a power trip hoping to become the next Robert Byrd. He lacks the chops for that position and the understanding that Byrd always did what he thought was best for West Virginia. Maybe Biden can get the ghost of the late Senator to pay a late night visit to the current Senator.

  12. Well done. But I’m far more worried about Republicans like Indiana QOP House Speaker Todd Huston, who is not a media whore, who does understand policy, and who knows how to execute legislative process to his advantage to:

    1) Outlaw abortion,
    2) Remove all regulations of firearms and pollution,
    3) Destroy public schools,
    4) Usurp local authority to enact ordinances,
    5) Eliminate taxes on businesses, and
    5) Make voting less accessible and more difficult.

    Don’t let the clowns distract you from what’s happening before your very eyes.

  13. Patrick,

    Todd Huston is an ALEC drone handed all those policies by lawyers working for the Koch network and Indiana State Policy network.

    The Koch network controls Indiana and doesn’t have to spend a fortune doing it.

  14. The GOP has no real program or issues to run on except FEAR. This FEAR is hyped up by their Steroid Cultural and Social Issues to turn out the base. These Elected Cultural-Social Warriors rely on a variety of wedge issues to turn out the vote. The wedge issues hide the fact the Elected GOP are totally loyal to the Oligarchs to deliver loose regulations, little enforcement of regulations or no regulations on the behavior of the Oligarchy.

    Joe Manchin, has always been a DINO and a legend in his own mind. Now this one pathetic man is angling to become Mitch McConnell’s lap dog in essence. Joe Manchin’s intransigence will keep McConnell in power by scuttling either eliminating the filibuster or reforming the filibuster.

  15. Todd, Republicans will almost retake the House due to it being the first election following a census and most states have Republicans drawing the maps. Then you have the historical factor that it’s the first midterm which is almost always unfavorable to the President’s party. As far as “voter suppression” being a factor, so much of that is a gross exaggeration (see the D’s bogus claims regarding Georgia’s new election law) and, when voter suppression is alleged, even falsely, it typically increases turnout (see Georgia’s 2018 mid-term election which featured near record turnout and record African-American turnout.)

    M.L. would you rather have Manchin switch parties so McConnell and the Republicans are n charge in the Senate and any agenda Biden has is gone? Seriously, Manchin is from freaking WEST VIRGINIA, a state that voted for Trump by some 40 points. He is the only Democrat who could get elected in West Virginia. Manchin will be replaced by a Republican when he leaves.
    You want to get rid of Manchin b/c he won’t support 100% of the Democratic agenda… he will only support 75%? Isn’t 75% better than 0%?

  16. Gaetz might as well be another son of a Trump. He lives only for himself and is a predator at all levels of the human race. The problem is he got elected by Florida crackers. Hopefully, these days are the ones where he gets rejected by humans for humanship and learns what Derek Chauvin is presently being schooled in.

    None of us are above the law even though many of us haven’t learned that yet.

  17. Gaetz is just a spin off from Trump. He just wants to be in the spot light and will do anything to remain in the spot light. He acts like someone with a sex addiction. Too bad we can’t put him in the army to see if he can survive a drill sargeant.

    The one who is of more concern to me than all the culture warriors is Mitch McConnell who knows how to make the partisan divide work for him. He is a perfect example of the obstructionist strategy of the GOP. What he did with the Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland and then putting Justice Barrett on the Supreme Court was nothing short of a partisan display. He has politicized the Supreme Court and the federal courts. That should never have been done. He and other GOP members of Congress demonstrated once and for all that they don’t really care about the budget deficit when they passed their “tax reform” bill. It ballooned the deficit. It never got paid for since their theory that corporate tax breaks would create more jobs was incorrect. And so the mockery of tax reform they created was never paid for. They keep holding onto economic theories that just don’t work well for the economy.

    Boehner’s book could be an interesting read on the recent history of the Republican party which could shed light on its current insane state of mind.

    And in the meantime, CEO’s of major corporations are speaking up about voter suppression and may, in fact, stop contributing to the GOP due to its current chaos and insanity. To do so they will have to maintain a united front so that the Koch brothers are undermined.

    Manchin is a moderate democrat who is in a difficult position due to his state’s support of Trump. He may be one of the more reasonable people in Congress. Representatives who are moderate are really having a tough time due to the severe partisan divide.

  18. Paul – kudos again. We must get over the “all or nothing” which easily slides into “my way or the highway” which, sadly, is a reverberation of “ME”, not “US” which is destroying our democracy, democracies everywhere and our planet.

  19. Among the mandatory modules in the universal civic literacy course that Sheila advocates for all Americans will be:

    1. How to spot phoney politicians in less than a nanosecond
    2. Tip offs to detect when a candidate is dumber than you are
    3. Facial and vocal clues revealing whether a politician is a practicing predator
    4. Why an (R) following a candidate’s name is a tipoff to trouble
    5. How to respond when a politician would rather put his constituents’ health at risk than
    offend his party leaders
    6. Questions to ask of politicos and broadcasters who advocate overthrowing the U. S.
    7. Analyzing character flaws of white nationalists who riot at the Capitol
    8. Why America needs forward-looking legislation to remain competitive (this is a companion
    course to “Why a stagnant Congress is a Useless Congress”)
    9. Second Amendment solutions for politicians who refuse to admit they have lost an election
    10. Incarceration considerations for politicians who attempt to suppress votes
    11. How to start a crowd funding movement to pay for orange jump suits for politicians who
    have failed us
    12. How to combat the proliferation of assault rifles and deal with the homicidal maniacs who
    own them.

    Attendees will be required to wear masks.

  20. When I saw Sheila’s topic for the day I was reminded of a squib I twitted a few days ago following a blatant lie told by Gaetz, which I here reproduce: “Would Matt lie? Does the sun come up in the East? This irresponsible brat with a bad case of zipperitis has a vote in a federal Congress for you and me wherever we live and we need someone new from his district to vote our interests since governing is clearly a sideline with him.”

    The Republican Party (other than tax cuts and minimal regulation of its campaign contributors) has substituted “owning the libs” for the hard work of governing, an effort which requires debate and compromise. The two parties don’t even agree on the commonality of facts and issues underlying such traditional discussions. Insult supplants debate. Thus, for instance, as a mathematician it’s hard to argue with someone who denies that two and two are four since as measured by alternative fact it might be five.

    The Republican Party if not quickly reformed is enroute to the oblivion of the Whig Party from which is arose in 1854, and along the way and in the absence of principles and platforms has no standards to which its members must adhere, hence the current collection of gun nuts, sexual deviants, playboys, Gaetzs, Trumps, and libertarians such as Paul as the once proud party is in accelerated descent.

    Our job is to elect Democrats across the board, invite Republicans (if any) to help govern, but to win majority status and GOVERN, whether they accept our invitation or not.

  21. Traditions are not unbreakable. Thus the usual loss of House seats to the just elected president’s party is not writ in stone, as FDR has proven. With the Republican Party in free fall and with an economy that is likely to be booming come fall of 2022, I would not be surprised if we Democrats expand our House majority a la FDR.

    Of course all depends on turnout fall after next, and I’m thinking that Republican attempts to suppress the vote will amount to a plus in that it will help to bring out such a determined and overwhelming Democratic vote that we will gain a a Manchin-less Democratic majority in the Senate as well. Pollyannish? Perhaps; perhaps not. We’ll know more next year. Stay tuned.

  22. Traditions are not unbreakable. Thus the tradition that the winning president’s party loses seats in the House following his or her election was broken by FDR, and with the Republican Party in free fall into oblivion and the likelihood of an economic boom come the fall of 2024, I would not be surprised to see Democrats gain seats in the House and even take control of the Senate with a Manchin-proof majority.

    Republican attempts to suppress the vote will in my estimation be met with a determined and overwhelming vote of Democrats who are invigorated to vote by the theatrics of the Trumps, Gaetzes, Pauls and by such legislative attempts to suppress their birthright that are so popular in Republican legislatures these days (assuming such attempts or some of them pass constitutional muster).

    Externalities to the foregoing analysis include the possibilities, among others, that there will be no Republican Party come the fall of 2024 and that additions to the Supreme Court will tip the vote in favor of voter expansion rather than voter suppression.

    Pollyannish? Perhaps, perhaps not. Stay tuned.

  23. Some of the language in my two comments previously published today is repetitious for a reason – emphasis. I am sensing some profound but undiscussed movements beyond the usual Trump-led hate and pretense of the day that deal with far more implications than such daily verbal jousts, like whether democracy will survive, whether our economic system is set for political collapse irrespective of the economy’s performance, whether the races can coexist, whether world leaders can cooperate in environmental matters with a view toward saving the planet, avoiding atomic war, working in unison to blunt coming pandemics as well as other such matters global in nature – all with a new and universal understanding that, for instance, a pandemic in the Congo is to be treated as a pandemic in Dallas, Moscow or Istanbul, since such plagues are certain to be transmissable in this shrunken world.

    To wax into the uncertain and philosophical, I am not sure that world leaders are capable of such mutual understandings given our history of the concept of state sovereignity and heroic stories of our defense of democracy, but there is no history to look to with all of these new global threats to human habitation. Can we match how to handle new global threats with altered views of old understandings? In short, can our thinking globalize in keeping with the global nature of the threats that are confronting us?

    I don’t know. I have lots of questions but no answers. Perhaps I am worrying in advance when there is plenty to worry about in the present. The Greeks gave us democracy but not a recipe on how to keep it in a world and time they could not know, so where is Plato when we need him and the wisdom in his New Republic to guide us into this new time and world we are experiencing? You are our intellectual maestro, Sheila; so what now?

  24. Gaetz is an example of another “Emptiness,” much like his sick hero, Trump. Nothing more, and it’s hard to be less.

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