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Some Special Combination of Stupid and Brazen

Abby Zimet

Talk about schadengaetz. With Trump-besotted, pomade-happy, archetypal "evil frat boy" Matt Gaetz facing a storm of allegations of sex trafficking, drug crimes and an unholy mess of other icky offenses, the guy being investigated for sex trafficking who was the only member of Congress to vote against a sex trafficking law isn't faring so great with his defense. Even before news of the current investigation surfaced, the 38-year-old, smirking-like-a-deranged-wolf Florida Republican and Trump slave - "I will never love another president," he once tweeted; one queasy patriot responded, "It's getting weird" - has done little in Congress except say/do awful things, troll Democrats by wearing a gas mask to mock masks, challenge Ted 'Cancun' Cruz for the spot of Most Hated GOPer among his almost-as-heinous colleagues - who have reportedly been so confident of a Gaetzgate coming they try to avoid standing next to him on TV - and otherwise show the questionable judgment of a guy whose main claim to fame is his mugshot after getting arrested on a mysteriously-vanishing DUI charge. New reports say he's spent much of his time bragging about his sexual exploits, passing around nude photos on the House floor of women he said he'd slept with - one featuring a hula hoop - and competing with other young male cavemen in the party of "family values" in a "game" that scored their sexual conquests of interns, staffers etc. They sound nice.

Then came the New York Times report on an ongoing federal investigation into the sexual and possibly financial proclivities of Gaetz and his sleazy friend Joel Greenberg, a former tax collector now sitting in jail facing enough charges he might just be tempted to flip. Multiple sources have said both Gaetz and Greenberg paid and trafficked the same 17-year-old girl to have sex - the age of consent in Florida is 18 - along with other girls and/or women; the Times cited receipts - see questionable judgment, above - from both Apple Pay and the mobile payments Cash App. The men apparently found the women using the dating website Seeking Arrangement, "Where Sugar Babies enjoy a life of luxury (and) Sugar Daddies (find) "beautiful members to accompany them." The Times also said Gaetz and Greenberg plied the girls/women with Ecstasy, a meth-like, Schedule 1 drug that constitutes a felony offense; that Gaetz asked the women to "help find others who might be interested in having sex with him and his friends"; and that he told them to say "he had paid for hotel rooms and dinners as part of their dates." While Gaetz has not yet been indicted, the various charges he could face - sex trafficking, drug use, pornography, campaign finance violations - could get him a minimum of ten years in prison.

The embattled Gaetz has responded with the probity and acumen you'd expect from a guy who once inexplicably identified a 19-year-old Cuban immigrant as his "son," went neo-KKK by calling BLM "a Marxist movement," and invited a Holocaust denier to the State of the Union. Having evidently never heard of taking the 5th, he wildly claimed it was all a $25 million sextortion conspiracy by some Florida Lawyer. He went on Tucker Carlson and said it was a Democratic plot, reminding a puzzled Carlson about when he was sex-trafficking too. He told Axios, "I have definitely, in my single days, provided for women I've dated...I've paid for flights, for hotel rooms. I've been, you know, generous as a partner." He wrote a garbled, bleating, deflecting, I-am-a-gladiator op-ed in the Washington Examiner - "The conservative source Americans deserve" - arguing "the swamp is out to drown me" and "I am a representative in Congress, not a monk" - "Bro, you sure sound guilty" - and tossing in a dizzying mix of Hunter Biden, Chris Cuomo, Meghan McCain, the "mafia/swamp" protecting its "made men," Andrew Cuomo's "appalling subjection of nursing home patients to death by the coronavirus," and "partisan crooks in Merrick Garland's DOJ (who) want to pervert the truth," though the truth is it was Bill Barr's DOJ who began the investigation. He conceded he has "few friends" in D.C. and he "wouldn't have it any other way," except, umm, maybe now...? He offered zero facts, rebuttals, proof, evidence of his innocence, nor did his former "military adviser" who appeared before the press to say he didn't know anything about anything but Gaetz is a good guy.

Given Gaetz' less-than-compelling defence - also his awful politics, toxic personality and criminally checkered suits - a weary press  freed from enduring the last four years of abusive "mini assaults" has brought it to him. Speaking especially blunt truth to power have been righteous women journalists, especially those of color - Yamiche Alcindor, Weijia Jiang, April Ryan, Kaitlan Collins, Olivia Nuzzi, Abby Phillip, who compares surviving those years to "wading through a river of lies." Because Gaetz is an equal-opportunity douchebag, men have piled on too. On MSNBC, John Heilemann described Gaetz as "the perfect flower of Trumpism...This sort of utterly unqualified, slimy, camera-hogging, no-good lowlife (who) came in on the Trump wave in 2016 (and) became known for being known." Heilemann quoted Dean Wormer in "Animal House": "Fat, drunk, and stupid is no way to go through life, son," adding, "I keep thinking with Gaetz, 'Stoned, skeevy, and stupid is no way to go through Congress, Matt.'" Still, Nicolle Wallace won the no-fucks-left-to-give prize with, "It's some special combination of stupid and brazen to pay for sex with a minor on Apple Pay"; she went on per "the Trumpiest Republicans," "They're not just corrupt, they're not just immoral, they're brazenly disdainful of the rule of law." Her bitter conclusion: "The Republican party stands for nothing, so I expect them to do nothing." Coming in a close second was the MSNBC panel of women noting of Gaetz, "It's not just he's such a creepy, miserable, insufferable human being," but his alleged crimes targeted underage girls as his victims. On the subject of, ewww, sex with Matt Gaetz, yes they go there. Watch their faces.

Abby Zimet

Abby Zimet

Abby has written CD's Further column since 2008. A longtime, award-winning journalist, she moved to the Maine woods in the early 70s, where she spent a dozen years building a house, hauling water and writing before moving to Portland. Having come of political age during the Vietnam War, she has long been involved in women's, labor, anti-war, social justice and refugee rights issues. 

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