No one should be surprised that Boebert, who has expressed support for the QAnon cult as well as Biden’s impeachment, is a rising star on the right. Former president Donald Trump’s Twitter feed — back when he still had one — was rife with glaring misspellings as well as absurd lies. Some even suspected the misspellings were deliberate — intended to signal his contempt for eggheads who might care about such niceties.
In the 1980s, when I became a Republican, the GOP took pride in describing itself as the “party of ideas.” But under Trump’s leadership, Republicans have reclaimed their old reputation, dating back to the 1950s, as the “stupid party.” What’s even more telling: This is not a source of shame or embarrassment for the party’s populists. They’re the stupid-and-proud-of-it party.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) responded to House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s (R-Calif.) criticism of a mask mandate by saying, “He’s such a moron.” My brilliant colleague Dana Milbank carefully examined this charge and concluded it was “mostly true.” Yet McCarthy is a veritable brainiac compared with many of his GOP colleagues.
On July 30, Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) praised Medicare and Medicaid for protecting “the healthcare of millions of families” and warned: “To safeguard our future, we must reject Socialist healthcare schemes.” Somehow Republicans miss the obvious contradiction between defending Medicare/Medicaid and assailing socialized medicine.
That Stefanik is a Harvard graduate suggests she may only be playing dumb to establish her populist bona fides. This is a charade perfected by Sen. John Neely Kennedy (R.-La.), a graduate of Vanderbilt University, Oxford University and the University of Virginia Law School who pretends to be a country bumpkin. But it tells you something significant that even the brightest lights of the GOP feel compelled to act as if they were dim bulbs.
For some Republicans in Congress, of course, acting dumb comes more naturally than for others. Take Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Tex.) — please. He warns that the Green New Deal, which hasn’t actually passed, is already ushering in an avian apocalypse. Birds that aren’t killed by windmills, he said, are spontaneously combusting while flying over solar panels. He acts as if “flamers” — yes, that’s the term he uses — are actually a big thing. In fact, fossil fuel plants kill many more birds — and people — than solar arrays. Little wonder that, as Gohmert himself admitted, people think he is “the dumbest guy in Congress.”
The covid pandemic has brought forth a corresponding pandemic of right-wing inanity. Greene and other Republicans have compared efforts to vaccinate Americans — i.e., to save lives — to the Nazis’ mass murder of Jews. Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) said he would support vaccine mandates only if “there’s some incredibly dangerous disease.” Covid-19, which has already killed at least 700,000 Americans, doesn’t qualify. Johnson just introduced the Prevent Unconstitutional Vaccine Mandates for Interstate Commerce Act. This raises the obvious question (obvious, that is, to everyone but Johnson): If mandates are unconstitutional, why is legislation needed to stop them? Won’t the courts overturn them?
More egregious examples of Republican ignorance can be found in all their accusations that Democrats are turning America socialist. “They’re forcing their communism through the corporations,” Greene charges, as if “communist corporations” weren’t an oxymoron. Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) warns that a “socialistic government” won’t “allow women … to be on stage, or entertain.” She seems to have confused the communists with the Taliban. Meanwhile, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) is upping the rhetorical ante. “The $3.5 trillion Biden plan isn’t socialism, it’s marxism,” he tweets. By his logic, we should already have gulags in America since Trump added $7.8 trillion to the national debt.
I wish I could report some sign that the GOP is wising up. In fact, it is continuing to dumb itself down. Josh Mandel, who is seeking the GOP nomination for U.S. Senate in Ohio, recently tweeted: “You can’t spell panDEMic without ‘DEM.’ Is this a coincidence?” That is a level of reasoning that would seem more at home on an elementary school playground than on the floor of the Senate. But Mandel should fit right in with his Republican colleagues if he is elected. They “imeach” themselves with every witless word.