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Trump's defense of Matt Gaetz just made life way harder for Republicans and the religious right

April 7, 2021 in Blogs

By Amanda Marcotte

In the days since it’s been revealed that Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., is currently under investigation for sex trafficking of a minor, it seemed like most Republicans were throwing him under the bus. As Politico reported, even though Gaetz was among the most loyal and outspoken Donald Trump supporters on Capitol Hill, “neither Trump nor anyone in the ex-president’s orbit is rushing to Gaetz’s defense.” Trump insiders appear to have gone out of their way to humiliate Gaetz further, leaking reports to the New York Times about Gaetz begging Trump for a pre-emptive pardon in Trump’s last days in office. Gaetz’s Republican colleagues were crawling all over each other to tell embarrassing or damning stories about him, from the time he reportedly showed them nude photos of women on the House floor to his fight against efforts to ban “revenge porn” in Florida. As an analysis from Media Matters shows, Fox News, which used to never get enough of Gaetz, has barely mentioned the congressman in recent days. Even professional troll Jacob Wohl has turned on Gaetz.

But then, like a devil rising up to collect his dues from Faustus, Trump decided to go ahead and personally defend Gaetz. In a statement released on Wednesday, Trump denied that Gaetz had asked him for a pardon, adding: “he has totally denied the accusations against him.”

The entire scandal represents the larger conundrum for Republicans, one that isn’t going away just because Trump is no longer president. Politicians like Gaetz, and like Trump before him, hold the promise of broadening the GOP base to pick up a lot of voters that more traditional conservative politics, especially the kind peddled by the religious right, weren’t appealing to. But while dirtbags like Gaetz and Trump hold a special appeal to previously ungettable voters, their very presence invites scandal.

As I noted in last week’s newsletter, Trump and his “grab ‘em by the pussy” aesthetic clearly had a secularized appeal to creeps and pigs — with the Proud Boys being a shining example — who find the religious right’s approach to politicized sexism too constraining. <a target=_blank href="http://feeds.feedblitz.com/~/t/0/0/alternet/~https://www.salon.com/2021/04/02/church-membership-is-in-a-freefall-and-the-christian-right-has-only-themselves-to-blame/" rel="noopener noreferrer" …read more


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