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Texas Idiocracy

Are you surprised?
July 30, 2020
Featured Image
Another very stable genius. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

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.”

It doesn’t work that way, but we’re talking about Louie Gohmert here. A guy who once argued against gun control because gay marriage leads to sex with animals, or something. He once suggested that foreign mothers had babies in the United States so they could turn them into terrorists and said that approving a gay secretary of the Army could be seen as an endorsement of child rape. Gohmert also warned that gays in the military might spend so much time massaging each other that they would be too relaxed to win a war.

I could go on . . . so I will.

In 2013, he warned: “We know Al Qaeda has camps on the Mexican border. We have people that are trained to act Hispanic when they are radical Islamists.” He repeatedly claimed that the Obama administration was filled with members of the Muslim Brotherhood. And who could forget his deep thoughts about caribou mating and warm oil pipelines?

So when [caribou] want to go on a date, they invite each other to head over to the pipeline. . . . So my real concern now [is] if oil stops running through the pipeline . . . do we need a study to see how adversely the caribou would be affected if that warm oil ever quit flowing?

Texas voters have elected him to Congress eight times.

It turns out that a nation that sends Louie Gohmert to Congress was fully capable of sending Donald Trump to the White House. So, this is a reminder that the dysfunction in our body politic was a pre-existing condition and that it won’t go away with the departure of Trump.

We will be living with this Idiocracy for a very long time.

Exit take: Perhaps not coincidentally, Texas has also given us its lieutenant governor, Dan Patrick, who has argued against aggressive measures to fight the pandemic by arguing that “there are more important things than living.” Earlier this month, right before Texas experienced a surge in the pandemic, Patrick lashed out at Dr. Anthony Fauci, claiming that the nation’s leading expert on infectious diseases “doesn’t know what he is talking about.”

“Fauci said today he’s concerned about states like Texas that ‘skipped over’ certain things. He doesn’t know what he’s talking about,” Patrick told Fox News host Laura Ingraham. “We haven’t skipped over anything. The only thing I’m skipping over is listening to him.”

As of today, there have been 6,831 deaths from COVID-19 in Texas.

Charles Sykes

Charlie Sykes is a founder and editor-at-large of The Bulwark and the author of How the Right Lost Its Mind. He is also the host of The Bulwark Podcast and an MSNBC contributor.