Monday, September 01, 2014

Louie Gohmert: The 5 Most Impish but Professional Adventures of the Representative from Texas' First District

So Louie Gohmert has been making some headlines lately because he's been cheekily photobombing other people around Capitol Hill. The representative from Texas' first district is such a fun, whimsical character.

As it just so happens, he's from the district my grandparents vote in. I know Louie Gohmert. I've seen his fliers. Some cynical, stuffed-shirt politicians might claim that these kinds of childish behaviors are not fit for a member of the US House of Representatives. 

I differ. Not only with the assumption that there is any standard of behavior for members of The House, but that these behaviors are in any way unbecoming or inconsistent with representing the United States of America as a professional lawmaker.

So here are five other completely professional, if whimsical, actions of Representative Louie Gohmert.

The Viral Video
Gohmert's actions swing wildly between cheeky, self-aware humor poking fun at his own party's foibles and shouldering the sincere responsibility of representing his personal conservative views for the American public.

Michele Bachmann is best known for losing the race that could have made her our nation's second-funniest president, but she should be known as someone who helps her unlicensed gay husband administer conversion therapy to other gays. Because the fates like to rub it in, she has attained a position where she can travel to Egypt and represent the United States by making a viral video telling Egypt how to structure its democracy with the hard but fair advice that could only be offered by folks who had never experienced life under an oppressive, Middle Eastern regime. Louie Gohmert signed up faster than one of her patients could backslide and the rest is history.

While King and Bachmann were clearly out of their depth, Gohmert put Egypt, and perhaps the entirety of the Middle East, at ease with a speech so over the top that it said to the world, "They do not represent us." His words were well-crafted to take the form of a rambling, incoherent mess designed to expose the entire exercise's ignorant, condescending core. Only his hilarious, subtle stage presence propelled the video into viral greatness as he deftly scraped up against Poe's Law, satirizing so effectively you might think he actually has the world view of the world's most privileged man-child.

Acknowledging America's Cultural Weakness
It's not all satire though. Gohmert takes his conservative roots very seriously and even has the guts to ask the really tough questions. Not the questions about whether the president is a Muslim. Gohmert believes that Barack Obama is a Muslim, but it doesn't necessarily follow that he would believe the President is a radical conservative Muslim. Even if he did, it wouldn't necessarily follow that he would be a member of a branch of radical conservative Islam dedicated to the creation of a global Islamic state.

A person would have to be stupid enough believe that all of those things were interchangeable for the accusation of being a Muslim to in any way be a political slight.

No, Gohmert's hard question isn't about one man's loyalty. The Representative from Texas asks, "Why is American culture so weak?" His fellow conservatives regularly imply--but are afraid to give voice to--the knowledge that Western culture and the culture of the US in particular is so fragile and so inherently unable to satisfy the social needs of its citizens that any one of us could be radicalized.

"Anchor babies" that are born on US soil, raised on American soil, then radicalized during short stays overseas? Only possible in a world where loyalty to America is so egg-shell fragile that the slightest brush with a foreign culture, the smallest drop of immigrant blood, from first generation to fourteenth can obliterate it.

Gohmert is an exemplary American because he suspects that any of us, regardless of race, religion, history, or any other part of our cultural background could be easily seduced into destroying the land in which we were fed, clothed, protected, and raised. The United States, in his professional view, offers so little to immigrants and natural-born citizens that we must be constantly vigilant of everyone around us, lest mere knowledge of the outside turn us into screaming Jihadis.

Understanding the Importance of Consensus
But again, the goofs always seem to outshine the seriousness. After all, good comedy is difficult. Good comedy through the lens of the business of government is hard. Take his exaggerated portrayal of a man incapable of functioning in a reasonable society, he claims that the President's push to repeal “Don't Ask, Don't Tell” will aid our enemies and result an existential risk to The United States.

In mentioning the imminent, catastrophic collapse of America, he's cheekily hammering the apocalyptic language that less intelligent lawmakers--those who should be obligated to act with a certain level of reason and perspective--invoke to back up their stances.

For these individuals, Gohmert reminds us, every issue is of dire importance. If they are not heeded then it means the ruination of America and the exaltation of our opponents. Every issue is critical and everyone who does not engage problems in the exact manner they want is a seditious collaborator in thrall to our hated foes.

This my-way-or-the-infernal-highway perspective is ludicrous and incompatible with a society which must by its design accommodate different views, discuss matters honestly, and find compromise. It's an elitist perspective which claims, “Democracy is fine, as long as everyone agrees with me.” That Gohmert links this critique with the ignorant, ideology-driven arguments of anti-LGBT lawmakers highlights the danger of this perspective.

That he would stand-up engage in such heated satire during the debate of one of the most highly-visible bills of 2010 goes to show that good comedy also has to be brave.

Continued Wednesday

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