For some time, it has been clear not just beyond reasonable doubt, but beyond ALL doubt, that when Donald Trump says “America First,” he really means “Trump First.” For all of his talk about draining the swamp and giving us a government owned by the American people, he has revealed himself to be a partisan hack of the worst type.
He never made even a cursory effort to reach out to those who didn’t vote for him, instead appealing solely to his base. He didn’t even attempt to separate himself from his real estate empire. He has equated attacks on him to attacks on the country as a whole.
But most alarming of all, he made it clear that he would not accept defeat in the 2020 presidential election. Instead, he claimed that if he lost, it would only be due to fraud.
Unfortunately, this proved to be one of the few promises he did keep. As it became apparent that Joe Biden had indeed defeated him, Trump responded with increasingly bizarre and unhinged claims of malfeasance at the ballot box.
Even more unfortunately, it looks like a substantial portion of the GOP has been willing to follow Trump down this rabbit hole. On Tuesday, Texas state attorney general Ken Paxton sued four swing states that flipped from Biden to Trump, claiming they violated the federal Constitution by changing their electoral procedures in light of the pandemic. Paxton took this suit directly to the Supreme Court under its original jurisdiction over interstate disputes. He sought to have the four states’ electoral votes, 62 in total, thrown out–which would have presumably thrown the election to the House and given Trump a chance to wangle another term.
Paxton’s suit rehashed a number of arguments that have been rejected by judges across the political spectrum, and most observers gave it almost no chance of succeeding. They saw this for what it was–a desperate attempt by a hard-right hack to retain office despite having clearly lost in terms of actual votes.
But that didn’t deter Congressman Mike Johnson of Louisiana from drafting an amicus brief in support of the suit, which was ultimately joined by 125 of his House colleagues–including House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy. Among those joining the brief was Michael Waltz of Florida’s 6th district, which stretches from the outer suburbs of Orlando through Daytona Beach to the southern suburbs of Jacksonville.
Waltzs presence on this brief came as a rude surprise to the editorial board of the ‘Orlando Sentinel, the largest paper in his district. In a scathing editorial, the Sentinel apologized for endorsing Waltz’s bid for a second term in the seat once held by now-Governor Ron DeSantis.
The Sentinel noted that it endorsed Waltz because he seemed to be willing to work across partisan lines. In the Sentinel’s view, Waltz’s decision to join this brief revealed that he was “not committed to democracy.” The editorial board realized it ignored a warning sign that Waltz was a partisan hack cosplaying a bipartisan lawmaker. In October 2019, Waltz joined fellow Florida Republican Matt Gaetz in crashing an impeachment deposition being held in a secure hearing room.
To the Sentinel’s mind, this was an early warning that Waltz’s loyalties aren’t to the Constitution, but to Trump. Waltz’s appearance on the amicus brief convinced the editorial board that he was willing to “undermine the nation” to give Trump another term.
The editorial board was particularly aghast since Waltz is a decorated veteran of the War in Afghanistan. A lieutenant colonel in the Army Reserves, Waltz is the first Green Beret ever to serve in Congress.
This sharp rebuke led another Florida Republican to show his true colors. Namely, Gaetz.
Wait a minute, Matt. So standing up for the integrity of elections is the act of a “partisan hack” and “moron” who doesn’t believe in putting this country first? And here we thought standing up for the integrity of elections was a cornerstone of democracy. Silly us.
Waltz was just as indignant when he appeared on Fox News’ “The Story with Martha MacCallum” on Friday night alongside Gaetz. Watch here.
Waltz claimed that his service in Afghanistan and Africa “shows my commitment to this country.” He told the Sentinel, “You can keep your endorsement, I don’t need it.” He believed the real danger was a media that was “so in the bag for the other side and stopped reporting the news.”
No, Congressman. The Sentinel was right. When you sign on to an effort to overturn an election based on arguments that have been rejected time and again, it would have been derelict not to call you out as the hack that you are. That’s not showing bias. That’s calling a spade a spade.
Fortunately, the Supreme Court was not willing to jump down this rabbit hole. It issued a three-sentence dismissal of the case, finding that Texas did not have standing to even bring it before the Court. Only two justices who were willing to take it up, Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas. Five justices must agree to hear an original jurisdiction case. However, Alito and Thomas indicated that they took a dim view of Texas’ claims, and would not have thrown out the four states’ electoral votes.
Notably, Alito and Thomas were unable to persuade their three Trump-appointed colleagues–Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett–to join them. Remember, Trump openly hoped that they would side with him in such a situation. While Gorsuch, Kavanaugh, and Barrett have given us plenty of reason to be alarmed lately, they deserve credit here. After all, they, unlike the man who appointed them, realize that a judge is supposed to uphold the law, not serve as a hack in a robe.
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