With the news that Representative Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) has tested positive for the coronavirus, there is a temptation to be less than gracious.
I intend to give in to that temptation.
This is not to say that we do not wish him a speedy recovery and, of course, send him our thoughts and prayers.
But let’s be clear: The incident does not show us that Gohmert is the dumbest member of Congress, because that is known. To be fair, he is not alone; there was a Democratic representative who once publicly warned that the island of Guam might tip over if the population got too large.
Even in this environment, Gohmert has distinguished himself as a super-spreader of stupidity and mean-spiritedness. During this pandemic, he has also been both an anti-mask bully and a role model of reckless crackpottery.
Shortly after the report that Gohmert had tested positive (he was tested only because he was about to get on a plane with Donald Trump to fly to Texas), Politico’s Jake Sherman received an email from someone on Gohmert’s staff who said that staffers in his office were “berated for wearing masks.”
After testing positive, Gohmert stayed on brand, blaming the masks for his contracting the virus:
“I can’t help but wonder if by keeping a mask on and keeping it in place, if I might have put some . . . of the virus on the mask and breathed it in. . . . But the reports of my demise are very premature,” he said. “If somebody feels strongly about everybody should wear a mask, then they shouldn’t be around people that don’t wear masks.”