If Representative Matt Gaetz (R-FL) was Jack in Titanic, then his Rose, disgraced politician Joel Greenberg, just gently shoved his hand off the makeshift raft into the icy waters of the North Atlantic. And it would be a warmer ending than the real-life one Gaetz appears to be heading towards.
The effects of the recent Gaetz freeze could be felt as far away as ABC’s The View, where on Tuesday co-hosts Joy Behar and Meghan McCain sparred over exactly how much the congressman from Florida’s panhandle is reviled.
“He is out there having fun, making jokes about it, because he feels like he has cover in the Republican Party,” Behar said of Gaetz. His former purported wingman Greenberg formally accepted a plea deal on Monday that saw the Justice Department drop a whopping 27 out of 33 charges against him in exchange for what is expected to be his cooperation in a federal investigation of Gaetz for allegedly violating sex trafficking laws by paying a 17-year-old girl for sex, among other alleged crimes. “Because they don’t care what you do there as long as you say that Trump won the election.”
But McCain argued that even Gaetz’s unwavering support of Trump’s false victory narrative wasn’t enough for Republicans to hold their noses any longer.
“Trust me: the Republican Party and people on Capitol Hill are embarrassed by [Gaetz],” McCain said. “It’s gross. He is a deeply unserious person. He should be removed from his committees.”
Yet neither the news of potentially being ratted out nor the beating he sustained on both sides of The View put a damper on his can’t-do spirit this week. Gaetz, who denies all wrongdoing, was back on his quest for American outrage on Tuesday, voting nonsensically against the Covid-19 Hate Crimes Act meant to combat violence and bigotry against Asian Americans. With his “No” vote in a feeble minority in the House, it was another in a string of unnecessarily cruel publicity stunts of which he has seemingly grown fond during his time in elected office. You also may remember him from such antics as the time he told the father of a child murdered in a Florida high school mass shooting that the cause of death was “not the firearm, it’s the fact that we have an immigration system that allows people to come here violently.” Gaetz then threw in a plug for Trump’s border wall with Mexico.
Back in 2019, Gaetz was thought of as a rising star in the Republican Party, his oily ascent courtesy of a premium octane fuel cocktail of Fox News- and MAGA-loving white nationalism and a lit match. Except almost as quickly as he appeared plucked from obscurity to regurgitate Trump’s enmity (mixed with his own signature blend of smarmy rancor), Gaetz now appears to be in an unrecoverable public relations spiral.
It doesn’t help, either, that the 2022 midterm strategy for the GOP is emerging as less personality-driven than the past few election cycles. Politico recently reported that the party plans to shift focus away from “boring” President Joe Biden and instead move to what he symbolizes as “an accessory to the broader excesses of the left” in their effort to win back control of the House next year. Gaetz’s perma-smirk doesn’t seem to fit comfortably in with that strategy, even if it does delight some of his more controversy-loving colleagues.
“The main problem is it’s Biden and the Democrats versus two Republican parties,” Republican ad guru Fred Davis told Politico of the fracture on the right between those holding a candlelight vigil for conservatism and those clinging to a flaming bag of Trump’s poo. In related news, Gaetz has something brown under his nose that McCain says no one will offer to help him wipe away.
“I have family members and good friends who all work on Capitol Hill in Republican politics and trust me: the Republican Party and people on Capitol Hill are embarrassed by [Gaetz],” she repeated on The View.
While Greenberg pleaded guilty to six counts before a judge on Monday, a plane flew outside over the courthouse dragging a banner that read “Tick Tock Matt Gaetz.”