Matt Gaetz has become poisonous, even to his own side

I make it my business to listen to the weekly “PBD Podcast” on my daily runs. It’s a right-of-center round table discussion of the news of the week. I listen to it in order to keep abreast of what conservatives think. Its leader, Patrick Bet-David, is an Iranian-born self-made entrepreneur and Trump supporter.

What’s fascinating about the show is how easily Bet-David and his handpicked crew accept the Fox News version of current events. For example, they echo the artificially manufactured Fox News outrage that Kamala Harris (whom they sometimes call ka-MAL-a) has not yet visited the international border between the United states and Mexico.

It never occurs to them that Fox News would be criticizing her for grandstanding and seeking photo ops had she gone to the border, nor does it occur to them that visiting the border is unnecessary in any case. She has people on the ground who can accurately report back to her the conditions at the border without the needless distraction and hullabaloo of her making a personal journey there.

I hasten to add that Bet-David and crew are far from rabid Trump supporters and are sometimes even independent thinkers, not afraid to criticize both conservatives and the former president. In fact, while Bet-David liked Trump’s laissez-faire business policies and tax breaks while Trump was in office, he actively dislikes Donald Trump as a person.

At the start of each show they list the topics they will be discussing that day. Early in the news cycle they included Matt Gaetz and his current scandal as one possible topic. They ran out of time before they ever got to him. They haven’t mentioned Matt Gaetz since.

They must be aware that Gaetz is a hot topic — arguably THE hot topic — in the news these days, particularly now that Donald Trump himself is becoming increasingly irrelevant. Yet they go to great lengths to avoid even mentioning his name. It’s as if Gaetz had become an unperson, in the Orwellian sense of the word.

I don’t doubt that Gaetz is mentioned — and defended — ad nauseum in other rightwing podcasts and vlogs and forums. But it’s interesting that he’s become so toxic that some people in the middle-of-the-road rightwing want nothing to do with him. He’s become anathema to those who may favor conservative policies by and large but cannot bring themselves to defend him. It’s also possible that the largely silent Republican lawmakers in Congress also reflect the mood of many of their constituents. They just want Gaetz to go away.

Gaetz is a visible symptom of the new Republican disease, and Republicans who are in denial about their own party’s inherent immortality cannot acknowledge that symptom. Simply put, evil ideologies attract evil people. Matt Gaetz is clearly an evil man, and he’s the rule, not the exception, in the Republican Party.

Republican efforts to deflect their evil onto others is hard to sustain because of real life examples. It’s mostly Republicans who are in jail, not Democrats. It’s mostly rightwing Republicans who go berserk with guns and murder people, not members of Antifa. It’s Republicans who deny global warming, who call the pandemic a hoax and deny science, and so on.

People like Matt Gaetz are grim reminders of how corrupt and evil Republicans have become. Instead of acknowledging the problem and confronting it head on, many Republicans close (or at least squint) their eyes and hope he’ll go away. Well, he probably will go away someday soon — straight away into prison. Unfortunately he will disappear into obscurity there, and no important lesson will be learned by Republicans. And, as ever, ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters, comrades and friends, stay safe.

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