Saturday, May 15, 2021

THE MATT GAETZ STORY IS FUN, BUT IT'S A DISTRACTION

I can't deny that this is entertaining:
When Rep. Matt Gaetz attended a 2019 GOP fundraiser in Orlando, his date that night was someone he knew well: a paid escort and amateur Instagram model who led a cocaine-fueled party after the event, according to two witnesses.

The Florida congressman’s one-time wingman, Joel Greenberg, will identify that escort to investigators as one of more than 15 young women Gaetz paid for sex, according to a source familiar with the investigation.

But what distinguishes this woman, Megan Zalonka, is that she turned her relationship with Greenberg into a taxpayer-funded no-show job that earned her an estimated $7,000 to $17,500, according to three sources and corresponding government records obtained by The Daily Beast.
It might lead to Gaetz's downfall. But nothing like this will happen:


(Ron DeSantis, who spent a few years in the House but was never in the Senate, will rat out Mitch McConnell? Hunh?)


We're living through a crisis of democracy. It's the most important political story right now. Gaetz is certainly adjacent to some of the people who threaten democracy, but this scandal isn't related to the democracy crisis in any way. Most of what threatens democracy now isn't a crime at all -- it's not a crime for the right-wing dark money group Heritage Action to write vote suppression legislation for battleground states under Republican control, and turning the Heritage-written bills into laws makes the suppression legal.

And even if Gaetz were to bring down a handful of Republican politicians, in all likelihood they'd be replaced by other Republicans who'd just get right back to the work of suppressing votes and ensuring that Democrats can't win future elections.

The Gaetz scandal is an old-fashioned political scandal, all about hedonism and corruption. I know most of you will say, "But isn't the GOP the party of 'family values'?," but Republicans haven't used that phrase in many yearsaaaaas, and while they still oppose abortion and are now obsessed with trans people, their favorite president is a notorious libertine and they don't have a problem with that.

The democracy crisis isn't about pleasure or indulgence. In many ways, it's the opposite: The people who want to crush democracy are zealots, like members of ISIS or the Khmer Rouge. They're passionate about eliminating or neutralizing the opposition, not about sex or drugs.

Consider Marjorie Taylor Greene. I know there are reports that she cheated on her husband, but what clearly stirs her blood most isn't sex or even CrossFit -- it's the harassment and bullying we see in that newly unearthed video from 2019:


Republicans want absolute power -- they've already made it effectively impossible for Democrats to win control of the legislatures in many states, and that's what they'd like to do nationwide. For years, Republicans have found it amusing to carry around "Liberal Hunting Permit" cards; people like Greene who think that way are now part of the government. If they ever have full governmental control, they want us all reduced to non-citizens, at the very least.

That's the real crisis. It's fun to watch Gaetz squirm, but we need to focus voters' attention on a story that's not salacious but is much more important.

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