Friday, April 30, 2021


In a sane world, this would be very bad news for Matt Gaetz:
A confession letter written by Joel Greenberg in the final months of the Trump presidency claims that he and close associate Rep. Matt Gaetz paid for sex with multiple women—as well as a girl who was 17 at the time.

“On more than one occasion, this individual was involved in sexual activities with several of the other girls, the congressman from Florida’s 1st Congressional District and myself,” Greenberg wrote in reference to the 17-year-old....

“My lawyers that I fired, know the whole story about MG’s involvement,” Greenberg wrote to [Roger] Stone on Dec. 21. “They know he paid me to pay the girls and that he and I both had sex with the girl who was underage.”
But Gaetz hasn't been charged with anything. many people (especially Republicans) are likely to say, "Hey, a seventeen-year-old is almost an adult." And Gaetz is going on offense, with help from the man who, apart from the semi-retired Trump, is the most influential right-winger in America:
Matt Gaetz is going on tour. With Marjorie Taylor Greene.

... Gaetz and Greene will kick off their barnstorming “America First Tour” on May 7 in the mega-conservative Florida retirement community known as The Villages, a must-stop for any Republican candidate hoping to win the state or generate grassroots excitement. The idea is to send a message from the two controversial Republicans: They’re not canceled, they’re not going to be quiet and the infamy their critics attribute to them is translatable as fame and power in the conservative movement.

... one of [Gaetz's] biggest allies in the conservative news media, Fox’s Tucker Carlson, has begun publicly questioning whether Gaetz is the target of overzealous prosecutors under a Democratic administration that wants to silence conservative voices by smearing Republicans like Gaetz with allegations of sexual impropriety.

“That story essentially destroyed Gaetz, took him off the map completely as a rhetorical force,” Carlson said on his eponymous show. “Whatever his flaws, Gaetz is smart, articulate and brave. Matt Gaetz was one of the very few members of Congress who bothered to stand up against permanent Washington on behalf of his constituents. Now he’s a sex trafficker. So the question is, who exactly did Matt Gaetz sex traffic? We can’t answer that question because no charges have been filed. All that remains is the stigma.”
I'm sure you all think Gaetz is going to prison. He might -- but I think it's equally likely that he'll avoid consequences or get a slap on the wrist at worst. He won't resign. He'll be handily reelected -- or maybe he'll even have the hubris to primary Marco Rubio.

As I started to read this story, I thought, Yes, the GOP base will rally around Gaetz -- but he still needs a counternarrative, the way Trump had "Spygate" and the Hunter Biden story around the time of his first impeachment. Gaetz didn't seem to be creating any such narrative -- but then Carlson stepped in. Counternarrative created.

Republican voters love criminals. Trump is guilty of insurrection, and of conspiring with Russians and pro-Russian operatives in Ukraine, plus he's a sex criminal and the perpetrator of many financial crimes. The right loves him. The right loves him because of all that.

The two top Senate prospects in Missouri are Eric Greitens, a sexual predator and campaign-finance grifter, and Mark McCloskey, who waved a gun at anti-racism protesters in violation of the law.

Rudy Giuliani is a hero to these people. Mike Flynn is a hero to these people. Roger Stone is a hero to these people. Kyle Rittenhouse is a hero to these people.

Maybe we're not quite at the point where criminal activity plus red-meat rhetoric equals electoral success. But we're getting there. I'd say there's a nonzero chance that the Gaetz-Greene tour is a preview of the 2024 Republican presidential ticket.

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