In late October, the House played host to one of the lowest moments in the Donald Trump era. A gaggle of House Republicans barged into a secure hearing room in the House basement where Assistant Defense Secretary Laura Cooper was giving a closed-door deposition in the Ukraine scandal. The 42 (at least) toddlers who pulled this stunt claimed they were being denied their right to take part in the proceedings. Never mind that at least 12 of them were part of the committees taking part in the impeachment inquiry.
For the better part of two years, as part of its effort to warn against the effort to rein in Trump, the GOP has explained that Democrats are an angry mob. This stunt should have proven the lie to that talking point once and for all. After all, it looked and sounded like something you’d expect in a Third World country. Need proof? Watch this video shot by one of the toddlers, Louie Gohmert of Texas.
Gohmert rolled just as one of the ringleaders of this stunt, Matt Gaetz of Florida–better known as “Florida Man”–was finishing a press conference by saying that he and his friends were going to see if they could get inside. Again, folks, these are some of the same people who warned against handing the reins of power to an angry mob.
That’s why it was more than a little strange when Gaetz tried to explain the recent rise of Bernie Sanders in the Democratic primary? Why? He thinks it’s fueled by Democrats who take their cue from Venezuela.
Gaetz stopped by the last edition of “Hannity” of 2019 to discuss the Democratic primary field. He told guest host Gregg Jarrett that he believed Sanders was getting a boost from Democrats who are yearning for socialism. Watch here.
Gaetz had a theory for why Sanders has risen to second in most primary polls, behind Joe Biden.
I think that Bernie Sanders’ ascension in the polls is a sign the Venezuela wing of the Democratic Party is showing a little life here.
Well, that’s interesting on several counts. For one thing, the man who is supposedly Sanders’ inspiration, Hugo Chavez, was known to have very little tolerance for opposition. According to a New York Times write-up of Venezuela’s economic collapse, Chavez’ democratic veil fell off after an abortive 2002 coup. From then on, he and his supporters saw “independent institutions”–the media, the courts, and the unions–as “sources of intolerable danger.”
To that end, Chavez made an alliance with the “colectivos,” armed paramilitary groups supporting his government. This support has continued under Chavez’ successor, Nicolas Maduro. According to Reuters, the colectivos have become notorious for resorting to violence against Chavez and Maduro’s foes. Amnesty International notes that this violence is tacitly tolerated, and even supported, by the government. Maduro himself openly called for the support of the colectivos during the rampant blackouts that took place during the spring and summer of 2019.
From where this writer is sitting, the stunt Gaetz, Gohmert, Steve Scalise, Jim Jordan, and friends pulled in October sounds like something straight out of the colectivos’ playbook. After all, the colectivos have had few qualms about harassing anyone seen as an opponent of Maduro–journalists, clergy, etc. And yet, he wails about the Democrats being influenced by a “Venezuelan wing”? Look in the mirror, Matt. You just pulled a stunt that Chavez and Maduro would have likely applauded.
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