Should I be shocked about the Matt Gaetz scandal? Maybe. But he was such a transparent sleaze that I kind of felt like his behavior was going to be exposed sooner or later.
What really surprises me, though, is how flagrant he was. He was waving around photos of nude women and bragging about his sexual conquests to his peers in congress, and they said nothing. They built a wall of support for one of their own, instead.
The most surprising thing about Gaetz’s current position is just how unsurprising every Republican in D.C. seems to find it. But there’s a good reason: Not only did Gaetz show off naked pictures and videos of his supposed conquests to other Republican members of Congress, his staff apparently sent around videos of his most outrageous exploits to their counterparts with other Republican officials.
When it comes to Matt Gaetz, Republicans weren’t facing vague rumors about his conduct, they were getting bragging self-confessions from the man himself. And they were getting both photos and video, some of it delivered by Gaetz right from the floor of the House.
Part of what made Gaetz feel as if sending his sex tapes to fellow Republicans acceptable can be seen in a new Orlando Sentinel article that describes Gaetz’s feelings about such images. Gaetz believes that once he has an “intimate” picture of someone, that image is his to use however he wants. That includes feeding his ego, or using the image as revenge porn. Which is why Gaetz as the primary source of opposition to a bill against revenge porn when he served in the Florida house.
Alexandra Petri nails it on the appropriate response.
I keep coming back to the detail in CNN’s report that this wasn’t something Matt Gaetz did a single time, but repeatedly. Because if it happened more than once — if it happened twice, even — that is because the first time went better than it should have.
To me, this is something you do, ideally, zero times. You never experience the impulse to do it, and you lead a pleasant life. You travel. You eat lunchmeat sandwiches. Maybe you do a marathon, or climb something. You lead a blithe existence for many decades, you die in your bed in your mid-nineties surrounded by your cherished relatives, and in all that time, you never walk up to a colleague on the floor of the House of Representatives and out of nowhere present him with a nude photograph of someone you claim to have had sex with.
But if you can’t do it zero times, then ideally it happens only once. It happens only once, because the moment you do it, the person you show it to responds the way a person should respond. You produce your photograph to your colleague, and your colleague looks at you and says, “Never show that to anyone, ever again. Go home and rethink your life. I do not feel closer to you. If anything, I want to have you removed forcibly from my presence by strong gentlemen whose biceps are tattooed with ‘MOM.’ The fact that you thought this would make us closer makes me question every decision in my life that has led me to this point. Leave now and never come back.”
That’s exactly right. I’ve never been in Congress, but in the communities I have been part of, I’ve always been the rat who, if told of something unethical you or someone else did, I’d not only say “no, that’s not acceptable” to you, but I’d also tell everyone else. That’s another part of the problem, though: once you do that to your sleazy colleague, no one ever confides in you again.
I can understand the wall of silence his fellow Republicans put up around Gaetz’s disgusting behavior, but it doesn’t excuse it. A conspiracy to hide Gaetz’s behavior required the involvement of more than just Matt Gaetz. Maybe none of his colleagues participated directly in the abuse of women, but they enabled it.
While we’re pointing out cowards who tolerated revolting behavior, why is Jim Jordan still in congress?
Presumably this behaviour didn’t start with the man’s rise to political office? It should have been flagged up and called out long before he even set foot in your legislature. What systems of privilege and dysfunctionality did he pass through on his way to elected office that gave him the idea that it was ok in the first place?
Susan Montgomery says
Why should you be surprised? Gaetz’s drunken frat-boy behavior was what we as a culture have always held in the highest regard. I’m surprised that anyone could truly believe that people can be adults at work and children at play.
Besides, isn’t decorum just for uptight squares, daddy-o?
slithey tove (twas brillig (stevem)) says
GOP is all one big adolescent fraternity, where no single member can get called out because of the splash damage on the fraternity that will ensue. Show each other their sexual conquests for brownie points and popularity within the frat.
Omega Theta Pi –> Gamma Omega Pi
Marcus Ranum says
Blood is thicker than water, and power is thicker than blood.
Marcus Ranum says
Another republican sex scandal has just broken. It features some buttplugs but no wetsuits.
I don’t care what people do in their spare time, so long as they don’t preach sanctimoniously about the sanctity of marriage or any of that codswollop.
I’d never heard of this asshole before I saw him spouting Q bullshit on the floor of the house during the EC vote count and I knew he was a sleaze after just that 5 minutes. I’d like to go back to never hearing about him again.
SC (Salty Current) says
cartomancer @ #1:
Given that the DOJ’s investigation into Matt Gaetz includes allegations that he raped a minor and engaged in sex trafficking across state lines, we can’t assume these were photos or videos of women, they might have been of girls. Remember the Tucker Carlson interview where Gaetz himself volunteered the idea that there were photos and videos of him with what he called underaged prostitutes. Hell, we can’t assume these photographs or videos were made with consent at all, even if they were of adults. It’s not like Republicans care about age anymore than they do about consent.
Sad OldGuy says
And now it seems like he brought some of these girls to the Bahamas, so international sex trafficking is now on the table.
One thing is quite telling: look at how few Republicans are willing to speak out in his defense.
Politicians, like all charismatic people, are very good at being… shall we say, “non judgmental”?
As PZ discovered, people who speak up are not very popular.
Marcus Ranum@4: “Blood is thicker than water, and power is thicker than blood.”
And Matt Gaetz is as thick as they come.
The thing that got to me was some of the folks interviewed described Gaetz and his wing man as “really smart”… Now that’s someone who needs to get out more, broaden their circle of friends.
You mean is.
Gaetz is now behaving like he is going to beat the rap and walk on all the charges.
He is white, fundie xian, and rich.
He might well do so.
Of course, his tribe, the oogedy boogedy xians, don’t care one bit.
Their reaction to all their many scandals is to cover them up any way they can.
slithey tove (twas brillig (stevem)) says
correction, my error thinking Omega is the Latin equivalent of O
I think it is actually Omicron — appropriate, as their brains are big as a micron (so to speak)
Hey, Myers, he’s innocent until proven guilty, okay? And when he’s proven guilty, he’ll ask God’s forgiveness and then be embraced in loving brotherhood by the Trump worshipers, before he inevitably sins again, because he’s a true sleazeball.
Well this is interesting (from Dec 2017):
“Mayfield said she was outraged her freshman year as a [Florida State] House member when a group of freshmen male legislators lived together and ran their rented session home “like a frat house.”
They created a scoring system to rank female legislators and lobbyists, she said. One of them was asked what he wanted to do in Tallahassee and his answer was “to sleep with as many women as possible,” Mayfield recalled. “Who is investigating that?””
The rest of the article speaks to toxic political culture women have contended with in the Florida Legislature. But that portion stood out when I was reading about Gaetz on CNN app.
Now let’s see the prosecution subpoena every single one of the House Republicans, put each of them on the stand, and compel them to testify about the stuff Gaetz did of which they have first-hand knowledge….
Leo Buzalsky says
I have to say…this is a reminder that Al Franken had to go. OK, he wasn’t sharing nude pictures, but he nonetheless engaged in inappropriate behavior toward women. I think Petri’s quote of “Because if it happened more than once — if it happened twice, even — that is because the first time went better than it should have” is relevant there. There is a precedent for bad behavior and it needs to be corrected. Now, when can we be rid of Andrew Cuomo?
And another one bites the dust: John Merrill, Alabama Secretary of State, Republican, and prospective US Senate candidate, was accused by a woman of a 16 month “sordid affair”, which he denied (course), but has now admitted and is dropping out of the Senate race. Merrill, like so many Republicans, is big on preaching “family values”. The woman also said Merrill made racist comments, but then bigotry among Southern Republicans (and old school white Democrats) is just comes natural.
I know I shouldn’t be so superficial, but how do you look at Gaetz’s permasmirk and not think “Creep! Creep! Creep!”? I mean, yes, someone could look like that and actually be an OK human being. But it doesn’t really surprise me to find out they really have a long history of creepy behavior behind it.
Rob Grigjanis says
slithey tove @15: They’re both ‘o’. Omicron is ‘small or short o’. Omega is ‘big or long o’.
I have to say that if I were having sex with a minor, I don’t think I would bring nude photos to work and pass them around. But then again, if I were having sex with a minor I would assume that if it were discovered I would be in danger of criminal prosecution, so maybe that’s what’s different — Gaetz really did assume there would be no consequences.
Well the Mayfield-Gaetz timelines don’t match for him being in the “frat house” during her freshman year. She started November 4, 2008 and he April 13, 2010. But that stuff she mentioned does speak to the culture he stepped into as a member of the Florida House.
Things might get more interesting soon for Matt. WaPo reports: Gaetz associate likely to strike plea deal with prosecutors in sex trafficking case. The “associate” is Joel Greenberg.
Things could get interesting for Matt soone. WaPo reports: Gaetz associate likely to strike plea deal with prosecutors in sex trafficking case. The “associate” is Joel Greenberg, of course.
that is the $64 dollar question right there.
I don’t think so. If he’s proven guilty, TFG will say he never met him, doesn’t remember him, has maybe heard his name somewhere, but certainly doesn’t know him. And lo, his worshipers will strike his name from the Book of Orange Life.
Marissa van Eck says
This is what happens when Butt-head finally “scores.” Uuuugh.
Ian R says
If “his staff apparently sent around videos of his most outrageous exploits to their counterparts with other Republican officials”, that means all those other Republican officials (and their staffs) are in possession of child porn, right?
I think I recreated part of my previous pathway to the story that quoted Mayfield in the Miami Herald. Here’s this article:
“Prior to joining Congress, Gaetz was a member of the Florida House of Representatives when his father was also a member of the Florida Senate. Sources told ABC News the two were often referred to as “Daddy Gaetz and Baby Gaetz.” Sources said some women referred to him as “Creepy Gaetz” because they allegedly found themselves made uncomfortable by the junior lawmaker.
Sources said Gaetz was part of a group of young male lawmakers who created a “game” to score their female sexual conquests, which granted “points” for various targets such as interns, staffers or other female colleagues in the state House. One of the targets of the scoring system was a group the lawmakers had heard were “virgins,” according to a source. The scoring system by male Florida lawmakers was previously reported by the Miami Herald.”
And that leads to:
To requote on Mayfield:
“Mayfield said she was outraged her freshman year as a House member when a group of freshmen male legislators lived together and ran their rented session home “like a frat house.”
They created a scoring system to rank female legislators and lobbyists, she said. One of them was asked what he wanted to do in Tallahassee and his answer was “to sleep with as many women as possible,” Mayfield recalled. “Who is investigating that?”
But Mayfield’s freshman term started late 2008. Was her first session in 2009? Gaetz started in 2010, perhaps in mid-session? With something of a gap between the two, doesn’t that imply the scoring system preceded Gaetz so it was going on already, meaning the Florida House already had sleazeballs in place and the organization itself is rotted?
But when did the Harry Potter stuff start? And how deep into the Florida House did it go?
It keeps on getting worse for the Florida men: Florida Elections Commission general counsel arrested on child porn charges.