It turns out the Department of Justice is criminally investigating Matt Gaetz for everything from underage sex trafficking, to prostitution, to hard drugs, to fake IDs, to campaign finance violations. How shocked you are at all of this depends on just how low your opinion of Gaetz was to begin with. But here’s the crazy part.
Even if Matt Gaetz somehow survives this from a criminal standpoint, he’s obviously finished politically. By the time we get to the 2022 elections, Gaetz will have likely already been indicted, and he’ll certainly no longer be in Congress. But the Democrats will be able to use the ghost of Matt Gaetz against every House Republican seeking reelection in 2022: what did they know, and when did they know it?
CNN is reporting that Gaetz went around showing naked photos of women he’d slept with to others in Congress. If the House Republicans knew he was that much of a creep all along, why didn’t they say or do something? Gaetz could have been stopped sooner. This is the narrative that every House Republican will struggle to fend off in the midterm elections.
If the Republican Party were a functioning political party, it would be forcing Matt Gaetz to resign right now. Tonight. This minute. It’s going to happen eventually anyway. They’re better off ousting him now, so at least they can go into 2022 claiming that they ousted him the minute they found out what he was.
But that would require the Republican Party to be capable of things like strategy and self preservation. Instead the party is ostensibly waiting for an increasingly addled Donald Trump, who’s facing worsening criminal investigations of his own, to decide whether or not Gaetz should resign. The GOP is still that beholden to Trump, even though he’s forever out of power, headed for prison, and looking like he might keel over at any minute.
The Republican Party’s failure to force Matt Gaetz to resign today is further proof that it’s no longer a functioning political party on any level. The best House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy could come up with is that he’ll remove Gaetz from committee assignments if he’s indicted. Really? That’s his punishment if he’s criminally indicted for underage sex trafficking, and until then, he remains on committees?
It’s clear that the Republican Party no longer functions. It bet everything on the premise that Trump would be able to cheat his way to a second term, and then dismantle democracy such that the Republicans would be able to remain in power forever. But that’s out the window, and now the GOP lacks the will or the cohesion to make a basic move like forcing Gaetz to resign. As big of a story as the Gaetz scandal is, the GOP’s complete inability to figure out how to handle it is just as big of a story.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report