Rotten Apples in Congress

Decency has perhaps somewhat recovered its former glory in the White House since the arrival of a more conventional president, but the Trump style seems to be solidly embedded in the Republican Party. Here are some edifying examples.

The last American presidential election came down essentially to one question: character. More than any other attraction, it is what best distinguished Joe Biden’s candidacy from that of Donald Trump: a return to respect, civility and decency. The contrast with the outgoing president was sharp.

However, while the “Trump style” was driven from the White House, it has remained well entrenched in Washington since the departure of the businessman, especially in the Republican Party.

The moment Trump bowed to Biden on Nov. 3, 2020, two new members of the House of Representatives set off to follow in his footsteps: Reps. Lauren Boebert of Colorado and Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia.

Since their first days in office, they have been the talk of the town. Boebert made a scene by refusing to reveal the contents of her handbag after setting off a metal detector when she entered the House chamber. Owner of the restaurant Shooters Grill in a village named Rifle, she had, moreover, promised during her campaign to sit “armed” if she was elected.

As for Greene, on Biden’s first day in office, she moved to launch impeachment proceedings against him. That set the tone. The following 14 months continued in the same vein.

More recently, during Biden’s State of the Union speech, a solemn annual moment presented to Congress, Boebert and Greene shouted criticism at the president as they turned their backs to the camera.

In any “normal” work environment, this kind of behavior would be sanctioned. Thus, Congress is not — or is no longer — a place where normal work takes place. Boebert and Greene are both headed toward easy victory in the November midterms.

And while the primaries are taking place that will allow Republican candidates to run in the midterms eight months from now, it is more obvious than ever that Trump’s style is still making its presence felt. Thus, Greene and Boebert may have new members who will dare to push the envelope even further at their sides.

Hotheads of the Senate?

Ohio, one of the essential electoral sections of the American industrial heart, ranks as the seventh most populated state in the country. It has also been one of the most hotly contested states in presidential elections for more than a century. Nicknamed “the mother of presidents,” Ohio has produced seven presidents over the course of American history — as well as three House speakers. Only three other states have done better.

However, in 2022, Ohio could elect a new senator who is miles away from being a head of state. Josh Mandel, a former U.S. Marine and former state treasurer, lost two previous Senate campaigns in 2012 and 2018 — and he seems determined to make certain that his third try will be the charm, or at least make an impact.

In February, Mandel participated in a debate in which one excess followed another. The Republican candidate notably called his opponent “stupid” before he pontificated on the history of slavery, suggesting that Israel was the only nation which had not “imported” slaves from Africa. And that was just an appetizer.

In another debate on March 18, in which Mandel confronted different Republican candidates, Mandel abruptly stood up and stood a few inches in front of opponent Mike Gibbons, who had just criticized Mandel’s lack of business experience. After having to be removed by the moderator, Mandel directly threatened Gibbons, warning, “You watch what happens, pussy” while still on stage before an open mike.

Meanwhile, some 300 kilometers (approximately 186 miles) away in Missouri, another heartland state, another Senate race is drawing attention. Eric Greitens, who was elected governor in 2016 by some 20 points, had to resign during his current term after he was accused of sexual assault and blackmail against his stylist.

In 2022, the fallen politician once again sought Missouri’s votes, this time in a race for the U.S. Senate. And this year, his ex-wife has accused Greitens of assaulting her and their children. One of their sons bore a “swollen face, bloody gums and a loose tooth” as result of an assault by Greitens, according to his ex-wife.

Greitens has categorically rejected repeated calls to withdraw his Senate candidacy from Republican politicians, including the other Missouri senator, Josh Hawley, who say Greitens is unsuited for the position. However, Hawley is not any more respectable. Hawley was one of the principal elected officials who instigated the insurrection against the Capitol in January 2021!

And lo and behold, eight months away from the midterms, Mandel is ranking near the top in Ohio, just behind Gibbons, himself a supporter of the cockamamie theory about the stolen election in 2020. Greitens is leading in Missouri.

In what many considered an April Fool’s joke, a known voice added herself to the chorus on the first of the month: Former vice-presidential candidate and governor of Alaska Sarah Palin officially announced her candidacy for Congress in 2022. The polemicist-in-chief from the pre-Trump years — considered by many as having, in fact, paved the way for Trump — judged the moment ideally suited to undertake her big return after 13 years in political exile. And maybe she’s right.

Within 48 hours, Trump officially endorsed her as a candidate.

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