First I read that Florida Congressman Matt Gaetz was going to retire to take a job at Newsmax. That elicited a hearty laugh! Of course! Where else would he go!
Then, it seems within minutes, there was a breaking story from The New York Times that revealed Gaetz was being investigated for having a relationship with a 17-year-old girl and illegally crossing state lines with her. That only elicited a shake of the head. Of course! That explains his creepiness!
Gaetz’s literal and metaphorical bulbous head is the perfect talking head for Newsmax. Without his daddy (and we’ll get to how important being a daddy is to Gaetz) Donald Trump, he is now in a minority bloviating about … well … nothing, but I guess that’s not unusual. His blind allegiance to Trump, the Proud Boys, and Roger Stone only solidify his creds as an insurrectionist, racist, and possible criminal. Those attributes are prerequisites at Newsmax.
Yet Gaetz’s (alleged) criminality goes beyond Stone. According to the Times story, his relationship with a former local Florida official, Joel Greenberg, is under review. Greenberg was forced to resign because he too is accused of a relationship with a minor (among other things). This relationship with Greenberg illustrates how Gaetz’s Trump-fueled power trip is a destination to disaster. Greenberg is, like Gaetz, an alleged pedophile, Roger Stone sycophant, Trump tool, and an out and proud Proud Boy. If birds of a feather flock together, Gaetz and Greenberg are doomed to be jailbirds soon.
Gaetz is also proud of his teenage boy, although he is not Gaetz’s son, not biologically. He is the brother of a former girlfriend of Gaetz. Gaetz adopted him. And while that seems noble, it raised a lot of questions about how and why Gaetz bizarrely and awkwardly disclosed it in the middle of a U.S. House committee hearing, and then he paraded the boy on Sean Hannity's show to further try to explain himself. Most people on the committee were baffled. But clearly not Hannity and his viewers. All hail Saint Matt Gaetz.
Gossip sites saw all of this as a little unseemly and highly unusual. So much so that Gaetz’s sexuality was called into question. He came out and denied it in a way that was reminiscent of a Seinfeld episode, i.e. “I’m not gay, and not that there’s anything wrong with that.” What’s wrong with it is that Gaetz has a 10 percent voting record on the Human Rights Campaign's Congressional Scorecard and voted against the LGBTQ Equality Act, so clearly Gaetz feels that there is plenty wrong with being gay. And his vehement denial that he wasn’t “gay” with his son left a lot of people scratching their heads. What is he doing with this boy?
If Gaetz did this boy a favor and helped him, then that’s fine, although I feel plenty sorry for the boy. Can you imagine having someone as disdainful as Matt Gaetz as your adoptive dad? Now try to imagine Gaetz telling you he wants to be your sugar daddy? If he’s been illegally paying for carting a minor across state lines, which the Justice Department is investigating, and parading this 17-year-old around as his girlfriend (or assistant, according to the Times story), and paying her (again, according to the Times story), then there will be plenty of other shoes to drop. Why does Gaetz feel the need to surround himself with teenagers?
Probably for the same reason his inflated and bloated ego floated him to Wyoming to hold a rally against fellow Republican U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney, after she denounced Trump’s actions on January 6. Gaetz flew to Wyoming because he felt that throngs of people would show up to see him, because, well, he’s Matt Gaetz, the obsessive television personality who obsesses about Trump. His obsessions sparked his obsession with being the center of attention. The world revolves around Matt Gaetz. People are eager to hear from Matt Gaetz. All eyes on Matt Gaetz. Boys want their father to be Matt Gaetz. Girls want him to be their boyfriend. Matt Gaetz just can’t get enough Matt Gaetz.
And when you demand that all eyes look at you, you’re going to open yourself up to all your dirty little secrets, and ultimately, Gaetz gets exposed. The feds smelled a rat in Gaetz. Even former Attorney General William Barr – someone who might be as disdain-worthy as Gaetz – felt something was amiss, so he and the Justice Department launched an investigation.
Let’s face it, somewhere along the way someone was going to unearth the real Matt Gaetz. When the mask mandate hit the House, the obnoxious Gaetz wore a gas mask over his two faces, and we laughed at his foolishness. But was that a harbinger of things to come? Did Gaetz wear the gas mask because he knew that his posse of Proud Boys would one day soon storm, gas, and trash the Capitol? Like Gaetz had been doing since he was elected? Gaetz had already been trashing Congress, firing stink bombs from the well of the House, and trashing his colleagues. The insurrectionists were an obvious offshoot.
He even stormed a congressional hearing during the impeachment trial. Do you remember Gaetz’s foolery of leading a rebellion of ribald Republicans down a flight of stairs and barging into the House impeachment committee’s bipartisan hearing? His bombast claiming that Republicans were being shut out of the hearings, even though some of his Republican colleagues were sitting directly in front of him listening to testimony at the time
Unfortunately, Gaetz’s ego and clownishness may have crossed a very sinister line. If he is indeed found to be guilty of all the crimes associated with his alleged relationship with a 17-year-old, then he is creepier and more criminal than we ever thought. Gaetz of course says he’s innocent. He also said he wasn’t gay. He also claimed the election was stolen. He also called Mr. Potato Head America’s First Transgender Doll because it went gender-neutral. He also said a Democratic House transgender bill would have allowed Donald Trump to declare himself the first female president.
Do you believe Gaetz’s latest explanation? I’m not buying anything Congressman Creep has to say.
John Casey is editor at large of The Advocate.