Matt Gaetz. Where even to begin? Begin even where to? To even begin where???
The past 15 or so hours have been full of one tawdry, disturbing, ludicrous revelation after another. It’s a bit too byzantine for me to untangle here—an ever-growing web of sex trafficking and extortion schemes and drugs and ill-advised friendships and a whole lot more—but safe to say that Matt Gaetz appears to have been up to some not so good things. He’s consorting with bad people! He’s leaving gross, creepy voicemails! He’s (allegedly) engaging in some rather untoward practices
Personally, I’m stunned that Matt Gaetz, who always seemed like a sweet and kind person, would ever do anything like this. My eyes have been opened, and I’m just gonna say it: this guy seems like a bad egg.
Ultimately, my eye was drawn to these truly skin-crawling reports about Gaetz’ behavior among his fellow lawmakers. From CNN:
…Gaetz gained a reputation in Congress over his relationships with women and bragging about his sexual escapades to his colleagues, multiple sources told CNN.
Gaetz allegedly showed off to other lawmakers photos and videos of nude women he said he had slept with, the sources told CNN, including while on the House floor. The sources, including two people directly shown the material, said Gaetz displayed the images of women on his phone and talked about having sex with them. One of the videos showed a naked woman with a hula hoop, according to one source.
“It was a point of pride,” one of the sources said of Gaetz.
And from ABC:
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.
This, I think, is the crux of the thing. Gaetz has made a point of saying he’s not part of the gang in Washington (“as for the Hill, I know I have many enemies and few friends,” he told the Daily Beast). But in D.C., as in Florida, one way he reportedly connected, or attempted to connect, with his colleagues was through the degradation of women. If you are a man, of any background, you have been in the presence of this particular strain of hetero male complicity at some point in your life. It is simply not avoidable. It is the thing that gives some men purpose, a thing they organize a good part of their lives around. To engage in it on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives seems egregious, but it is not particularly shocking. It is, ultimately, the through-line that connects every part of the Gaetz story, from beginning to end.
Gaetz has denied the charges against him. As his people told the New York Times, “Matt Gaetz has never paid for sex. Matt Gaetz refutes all the disgusting allegations completely. Matt Gaetz has never ever been on any such websites whatsoever. Matt Gaetz cherishes the relationships in his past and looks forward to marrying the love of his life.” Well, if you say so.