4 'Normal' Politicians Whose Closets Are Bursting With Skeletons
When a king dies or, worse, starts an incoherent blog, a vacancy opens. The Republican party, torn between doubling down on Trump or moving on, is in the middle of a leadership crisis, and several representatives are trying to emerge as the voice of the future. Some of those representatives are also complete lunatics, and you can probably guess which side they're on.
Alumni From Madison Cawthorn's Old School Denounced Him As A Serial Harasser
Madison Cawthorn is the youngest member of Congress, because in 2020 North Carolina just couldn't resist the siren song of a 25-year-old college dropout who complained about a journalist working "for non-white males."
He's blended general GOP nonsense (flirting with white supremacy, ginning up the attack on the Capitol, being a writhing collective of misanthropic worms oozed into a suit) with a few unique twists, like lying about qualifying for the Naval Academy (he was rejected) and, after a car accident, repeatedly lying about training for the Paralympics (annoyed Paralympians had no idea what he was talking about). He's the culmination of "elect me and I will piss off the people you hate" politics, a legislator who admits he's more interested in messaging than legislation. This is a man who celebrated his election night victory with the unifying message of "Cry more, lib," then "apologized" for it, then sold $35 t-shirts blaring the message in capital letters.
That Cawthorn tried one semester of political science and got terrible grades before giving up arguably makes him the perfect symbol of the Republican Party, but he sure made an impression at school. 176 current and former students of Patrick Henry College signed a letter accusing Cawthorn of vandalism, misrepresenting himself, and "sexually predatory behavior." Several women specifically accused him of inviting them for a drive, taking them somewhere quiet, locking the doors, and making unwanted advances. Cawthorn's "fun drives" became infamous enough that women passed on warnings about him.
Cawthorn blamed the accusations on evil Democrats (many of the signatories were self-described conservative Republicans) before trying to ignore them, possibly because he was distracted by a different sexual misconduct allegation. The "Sexual misconduct allegations" section on his Wikipedia page takes up more space than his political opinions, because he has no real convictions beyond believing that the Founding Fathers wrote the Constitution to own the Democrats.
Cawthorn has been called the future of the Republican Party, which unfortunately appears to be true in that voters didn't care about the many credible accusations against him. And he'll say whatever moronic thing gets him attention: he blamed the attack on the Capitol, whose participants he spoke to, on shadowy left-wing Democratic operatives paid to make Trump look bad. He vowed to reach across the aisle and work with people he then said want to turn America into a "communist ash heap." He gave a fiery speech claiming he had proof of widespread voter fraud, then later admitted he didn't, then continued to call the election stolen anyway. He's the perfect politician for anyone who wants to vote for a waffling John Birch Society member accidentally teleported here from 1965.
Paul Gosar's Family Very Publicly Hates Him
The Arizona Republic has called Paul Gosar Arizona's most controversial member of Congress, which is no easy feat in a state where Republicans are still examining ballots to see if Biden secretly flew phony votes in from South Korea. But he's earned the title by calling Biden an "illegitimate usurper," accusing the FBI and Department of Justice of being full of "traitors," and palling around with white supremacists. When he spoke in London he called Muslim immigrants "disgusting and depraved" and a "scourge."
Gosar also compared the nefarious Pope to "leftist politicians" for his acknowledgment of climate change, sought to reinstate Steve King to House committees after King was booted for making the kind of statements that earned him praise from the KKK, and said George Soros "turned in his own people to the Nazis" by secretly funding the far-right Charlottesville rally. If all this makes Gosar sound like the kind of person you wouldn't want to spend time with, well, you're not alone.
Six of his nine siblings ran ads in support of his opponent in 2018 and 2020, citing his opposition to the Affordable Care Act, the fact that he doesn't live in the district he represents, and his presumed tendency to form his political opinions by drinking paint thinner and seeing where that takes him. Seven of them also denounced his George Soros statement, and three wanted him expelled from Congress for his role in the attack on it, leaving us to wonder what he would have to do to complete the sweep of sibling outrage.
In 2018 Gosar dismissed his kin as "disgruntled Hilary supporters" and said "Stalin would be proud" of them, Stalin being famous for his harsh verbal criticism of political opponents before accepting their democratic election. He didn't have as much to say in 2020 because he was busy asking the non-traitorous parts of the FBI to investigate the Black Lives Matter movement, which Gosar claims is funded by the Chinese government as part of a secretive plan to stage a worldwide communist revolution. Gosar also said a vote for Democrats was a vote for communism, so the Gosars probably don't have the greatest Thanksgiving dinners.
Everything About Matt Gaetz Is Exhausting
Florida representative Matt Gaetz is under investigation for his alleged relationship with a 17-year-old girl. Well, unless you listen to his side of the story, in which case he's helping the FBI with a double secret investigation into mastermind criminals who are extorting him, at least when he's not going on TV to ask who among us hasn't committed a sex crime. But if you've been distracted by Gaetz being dumb enough to document his wrongdoings on Venmo, you may have missed out on everything else he's inflicted on a fallen world.
Gatez obviously encouraged people to violently deny Trump's electoral defeat before claiming that the people who violently denied Trump's electoral defeat were disguised lefties, but a probable sex criminal attempting to undermine the fundamental precepts of democracy is old hat at this point. Aside from looking like the default created character in a game about tonguing Trump's colon, this is a man so scandal-ridden that taking a Holocaust denier with him to Trump's 2018 State of the Union somehow barely registered amid everything else.
Gatez grew up in The Truman Show house -- no, really, that's not a metaphor -- and has claimed it shaped his view of politics as entertainment. That's why his office outsourced the creation of a resolution to Reddit's conspiracy-mongering Trump community before they were banned. The hard-hitting resolution accused FBI director James Comey of leaking information to a reporter since 1993, when the reporter in question was 10.
He's also dabbled in witness tampering, implied COVID was a rogue Chinese bioweapon, mocked anti-COVID health measures amid a surge of cases because apparently China isn't very good at creating bioweapons, suggested "hunting down" George Floyd protesters "like we do in the Middle East," called Haiti a "disgusting" country, had a few ethics violations, and ran ads claiming that anyone who talks about all this is part of a "big government, big tech, big business, big media" conspiracy to silence him. Oh, and his father's own political connections got Gatez out of facing consequences for a DUI, but that's almost delightfully quaint at this point.
It's difficult to criticize Gatez without giving him the attention he thinks is part of some Machiavellian scheme, because all news was good news for him right up until the news started to be about his predilection for minors. But Gatez is considered one of Trump's acolytes for a reason: his shtick is to be as offensive as possible as often as possible, because all consequences outside of the immediate headlines are irrelevant. Sure, he might be contributing to the kind of conspiratorial worldview that leads to contempt for the welfare of other people and intense disdain for democracy, but at least he gets to go on Newsmax and complain that it's very mean to suggest that a 39-year-old man should only sleep with adults.
Everyone Who Knew Josh Hawley Thinks He Went Insane
Imagine a boot stamping on a human face, except the guy wearing the boot keeps saying "LOL, triggered much?" because it earns him likes on Parler, and you have Missouri senator Josh Hawley. Hawley was the first senator to announce he would oppose the certification of Biden's electoral victory, and he was among the most responsible for the chaos and death that followed. Naturally, he got to publish a book a few months after his rhetoric fuelled a few murders.
It's tempting to write off Hawley as another bozo going where the wind blows. At first glance he seems cut from the same cloth as CrossFit enthusiast Marjorie Taylor Greene, who was elected by embracing QAnon and now has to pretend that the government is riddled with Satan worshipping pedophiles who secretly did 9/11, but who are otherwise very nice to work with on subcommittees. At times it can feel like every representative clinging to Trump's glory collectively shares a single well-worn hippocampus.
But Hawley is by all accounts an intelligent, hardworking guy. Former acquaintances think he used to mean well, an old Stanford professor "quite disturbed" by his sedition called him one of his greatest students, he was friends with conservative icon George Will before a bitter falling out, he had an impressive teaching and legal career. He once wrote an in-depth column arguing that America was influenced by Pelagianism, an early fifth-century Christian schism, which sets him apart from the Republicans who write about how Arby's is Marxist because their curly fries have gotten worse.
In that 2019 column, Hawley made the reasonable argument that a dangerously hierarchical America is seeing people who lack generational wealth be overwhelmed by unaffordable healthcare, stagnant wages, and vanishing career options. But Hawley's response to this crisis has been to complain that gay people are getting too many rights, suggest that those liberals in Hollywood love human trafficking, yell at the NBA, and then try to restore a President whose ineptitude exacerbated those problems.
Hawley complained about elitists before going to Stanford and Yale on his father's money, he mocked career-obsessed politicians and then immediately abandoned his attorney general job to grab a Senate seat. He wrote an op-ed defending his post-election nonsense, then complained that he's been unfairly silenced. He seems to have believed that he alone knows best since he was a teenager with a newspaper column, where he defended the militia movement after the Oklahoma City bombing and lectured readers on what Martin Luther King would have thought of affirmative action (spoilers: Hawley reaches the opposite of King's actual conclusion).
Hawley can identify America's problems but can't suggest a solution beyond telling people to furiously and repeatedly shoot guns at their own feet, who argues that God made America the greatest country in the world but that half its population is plotting to destroy it. He's the intellectual version of Trump's "Don't trust those nefarious elites, trust me" gimmick, and one of his favorite arguments is that Americans might enjoy too many freedoms. So ... maybe give his book a pass.
Mark is on Twitter and wrote a book.