When Matt Gaetz went on Fox News Saturday to “apologize” for tweeting a horrific message of slander and intimidation intended to embarrass Michael Cohen in front of his wife, father-in-law and children, he used the occasion as an opportunity to attack the media in general and Kamala Harris in particular.
In case you missed it, here is Gaetz’s appallingly bad-mannered tweet: “Hey @MichaelCohen212 – Do your wife & father-in-law know about your girlfriends? Maybe tonight would be a good time for that chat. I wonder if she’ll remain faithful when you’re in prison. She’s about to learn a lot…”
No moral human being would write a thing of such unremitting evil in the first place, of course, so, being an amoral man of unremitting evil, it should come as no surprise that Matt Gaetz spent about 15% of the so-called “apology” interview doing what he allegedly came to do, which was to apologize for a pathologically diabolical and unlawful tweet, and 85% of the interview expressing – I cannot believe the next two words I am about to type, but here they are– moral outrage. That’s right, Matt Gaetz is morally outraged at his treatment by the media and at Kamala Harris for her actions during the Kavanaugh hearings. And he expressed his angry, self-righteous resentment in a long, angry and self-righteously resentful rant.
This is classic Republican false equivalency. Never mind the foreign collusion, money laundering, endlessly stupid and quasi-literate tweets, the sexual assault claims and the 8,000 lies of Donald J Trump, what about Hillary? Did Congressman Gaetz take lessons from Kellyanne Conway before going on the air?
That a Congressman doesn’t get what it means to be moral no longer surprises us. We who watched the House Oversight Committee’s Michael Cohen hearing saw plenty of examples of desperate Republicans trying to change the subject away from the shame of their arch criminal, bigoted “president” and back to their “moral outrage.” Moral outrage is an essential tool in the toolkit of Republican hypocrisy.
As François de La Rochefoucauld famously put it, “hypocrisy is the compliment vice pays to virtue.” The Republicans, led by Matt Gaetz, have found much to compliment virtue these days with their unending catalog of hypocrisies. Matt Gaetz shows us how to apologize like a Republican. It won’t be so easy for Donald Trump, however, when he is made to show us how to go to prison like one.
Robert Harrington is an American expat living in Britain. He is a portrait painter.