The Chuckleheads Take Charge

If the GOP flips the House, senate or both this fall, we will all get to watch a rerun of a familiar show: The Chuckleheads Take Charge. At first, casual glance that may seem preferable to the Dem rerun: World War III with Moscow. But hello? If you think the GOP is antiwar, you need your head examined. A judgment that Republicans would eschew foreign military escapades is too facile. And false. There is every indication that when it comes to nuclear war, GOP chuckleheads are just as awful as their Dem facsimiles.

Indeed, it appears the GOP wing of the bipartisan war party opened its ears to sweet nothings from pentagon psychopaths, dulcet fibs about tactical nuclear warheads and winnable nuclear wars. True, the only congress critters with the backbone to vote against Biden’s billions for the insane, massive, CIA Ukraine proxy war were Republicans. For this they deserve hosannas. But this small bunch of legislators is merely a proud minority. There is zero evidence they could sway the GOP chuckleheads in charge, who want a full-on atomic blowout with China over Taiwan – and they ain’t exactly peaceniks when it comes to Russia, either.

In fact, last I checked, Republican panjandrum Mitch “Democracy’s Gravedigger” McConnell regarded the Ukraine proxy-war iniquity as the mission of our time. Mission to hell is more like it. But he and most of his party are just as frenzied with bloodlust as your average Dem. And that’s saying something.

That bipartisan bloodlust has caused many lacunae in the western perspective, as displayed in its current Russia-disinformation war. For instance, to any thoughtful observer it is clear that Russia has so far fought with one arm tied behind its back. Moscow only committed 60,000 troops compared to Kiev’s hundreds of thousands and doesn’t bomb NATO supply routes in Ukraine, even though, as the Kremlin well knows, western military equipment floods those routes. With NATO weapons, the Ukrainians are probably the best-armed force in Europe. Yet still Moscow refrains from shock and awe, to the puzzlement of pentagon strategists, who wonder why Russia, which has controlled Ukraine’s air space since it invaded, hasn’t razed Kiev to the ground. Why, they ask, doesn’t Kiev look like Fallujah when the U.S. got done with it?

Clearly Moscow takes a different military approach than the U.S. But there are signs that may soon change: Russia’s September 11 attack on Ukraine’s power grid may be a harbinger of a new type of assault. If so, blame the NATO policy of constant provocation. After all, NATO got the world into this mess, which includes bankrupting Europe, as western sanctions backfire. NATO refused to consider neutrality for Ukraine, which its sanhedrin well knew was Moscow’s red line. Then, back in April, UK prime minister Boris Johnson jetted into Kiev to scuttle a peace deal with Moscow, a deal that was almost completed. So no, NATO isn’t done causing trouble yet.

But lots of that trouble backfires. After all, Europe had a great deal for decades: cheap, abundant energy, which Russia supplied happily. Then Europe bit the hand that fed it. It set its attack dog, NATO on Russia. Suddenly the price of gas zooms up. The Euro crashes to historic lows, and inflation wrecks the continental economy. European sachems can’t believe they lost everything. No more great deal for Europe. Boo hoo.

Seventy-thousand Czechs protested in Prague September 3 against NATO’s involvement in Ukraine, demanding gas from Russia and ending the war, while tens of thousands of protesters in France, Austria and other countries are similarly fed up. Their leaders don’t care. As the German foreign minister from the Green party said, she will put Ukraine first, “no matter what my German voters think” or how hard life gets for them. So it will take more than hordes of protesters to dent the iron-clad egos of NATO and EU bigwigs. More precisely, it will take the deindustrialization of Europe, already well underway, and skyrocketing inflation caused by the boomerang of western sanctions. But don’t worry. That’s all coming.

And when it does, you can be sure it will astonish our own, homegrown chuckleheads. Currently notable among leaders of the GOP chucklehead pack is Wisconsin senator Ron “I Won’t Testify” Johnson. He’s been in the news lately, because some MAGA nutcase working on his campaign and previously employed by him in the runup to the January 6 debacle allegedly cobbled together a slate of fake electors for him. Johnson announced he never paid any attention to this slate, maybe just a few seconds, just a glance, not even really a good look – who is this nonentity who presented it to him? He never heard of her. And so, he claims, the January 6 committee doesn’t need his testimony. He’s currently in a tight race, but that’s been the case for “No Testimony” Johnson before, yet he still managed to pull through. If he makes it to a newly ascendant GOP senate, Johnson could chair the homeland security committee, as he did from 2015 to 2021, possibly while Ron “Fire Elected Officials” DeSantis or Donald “President for Life” Trump mulls imposing martial law, from the white house bunker. Now there’s a thought.

Johnson is also a bigwig on the committee on foreign relations and so could make a vote-grabbing spectacle of himself shepherding anti-China laws through the senate for a rabidly Sinophobic GOP president. Back in early August, he joined his homeland security committee in “requesting a hearing with federal reserve board chair Jerome Powell” and the FBI, “regarding Chinese influence and information theft at U.S. Federal Reserve Banks,” according to a press release from Johnson’s office. If this sounds to you like an hysterical witch-hunt, you may be onto something, because that’s definitely the vibe.

Such grandstanding of course has its demagogic uses. It bolsters Johnson’s China hawk bona fides. But he needn’t have bothered. We all know if the GOP captures the House or senate, we’ll be swimming in anti-China garbage recycled by the media 24-7. Currently they compost it, so we only have to hold our noses and notice it every couple of days. Though I guess if you watch Fox News, you contemplate it on the regular in its pure excremental form, which no effort at nose holding, however vigorous, will cover up.

Also leading the charge of the chuckleheads is Florida senator Rick “Where Are the Cameras?” Scott. Lately he irked his fellow senators by using his perch as head of the National Republican Senatorial Committee to…promote his probable 2024 run for president, according to the New Republic on August 31. “In August, Scott was one of the headliners at a fundraiser on Nantucket…” to show off his supposedly presidential ornaments (if the chief presidential ornament, a willingness to commit mass murder, was on display, I must have missed any reference to it), a fundraiser which spotlighted luminaries like J.D. “Fake Hillbilly” Vance, Hershel “I’m Not the Father” Walker and “They Call Me” Dr. Ozz “For a Reason.” In company like that, yes, I guess you could say Scott looked presidential. But so would Mr. Potato Head.

Also problematic are Scott’s money management skills, specifically the incredible shrinking NRSC treasure chest. Or rather, what treasure chest? You see, Scott spent millions of dollars on what the New York Times on September 3 called “a costly financial flop,” an “enormous gamble on finding new online donors.” So hey, Scott isn’t exactly a financial wizard. That’s the least of the flaws afflicting the conspiracy theorists who infest the GOP, which does nothing to quash, or at least muffle the stentorious embarrassment of their dizzying lunacy that a ring of pedophile lizard people called the Illuminati runs the Democratic party. But maybe there’s a method to Republican madness. After all, who wouldn’t prefer lizard people to war-mongering, incompetent sociopaths, who may yet bungle us into World War III with Russia? So on second thought, let’s hear it for the lizard people!

Another tribulation for Scott, who represents many retired Floridians, involves his rabid assaults on social security. He wants to ditch it. In five years. Tell that to the snowbirds who elected him and see what you get. A gaggle of furious senior citizens would be my guess. So far, his wish to cut funds to his constituents has flown mostly under the radar, but maybe Scott’s a man of principle, a free-market ideologue who’s willing to alienate voters to rid capitalism of this costly compassion. It’s possible, but somehow I don’t see him making speeches, even at the swankier assisted living facilities, about how those residents should forgo their social security check.

Another unforgettable pooh-bah in the chucklehead gang is Lindsay “Riots in the Streets” Graham. This so-called statesman is evidently prepared to threaten the government, of which he is nominally a part, with insurrectionist violence if it doesn’t do what he wants. And what does this senator want? Well, for starters, he doesn’t want to testify before the Georgia grand jury looking into Trump supporters’ electoral funny-business. He says he’s concerned with criminal justice assaults on Herr Trump. But don’t you believe it. Before he was for Trump, he was against him. No, Graham’s eyes and thoughts are fully riveted on numero uno – that’s Graham himself and keeping his behind out of the witness box hot seat or any other uncomfortable place his association with the disgraced former president might lead. And if that means assisting the ex-prevaricator-in-chief any way he can, well, Graham will fling himself into this task.

Meanwhile, Texas senator Ted, “Starve Indentured Students” Cruz has his eye on the presidential pinata, and the best way to grab those goodies is for Cruz to shriek “communism!” at Biden’s measly, half-hearted attempts at social justice. Did I say attempts, plural? I meant attempt, singular, as in his grudging fulfillment of a campaign promise, to wit, forgiving student debt. Most normal people thought when Biden spoke of debt forgiveness, he meant what he said – not a means-tested partial cut, but hey, with this stingy president $10,000 is clearly the best you can get. So my advice to student serfs is take the money and run.

Cruz will scream about the supposedly radical left-wing Marxist white house whether Biden forgives loans of $10,000, $100,000 or ten cents. It’s all the same to him, because he knows his supporters can barely follow normal syntax. They sure aren’t keeping track of the size of this so-called free lunch (which is peanuts compared to various Paycheck Protection Program loans forgiven for loud-mouthed, hypocritical GOP congressmembers.) They’ll resent it no matter what. That’s what being a chucklehead is all about. You just let loose a dog-whistle and watch your poll numbers pop up. And the most satisfying aspect for the chucklehead base is watching their political chieftains pander to their worst instincts. The Dems of course do it too, but what they pander to is called Russophobia. And they do it, like everything, with the sickening panache of class snobbery. Ah, what a spectacle afforded by our politicians, a panorama of brazen crooks and whining phonies, of charlatans and liars, ignoramuses, imbeciles, vegetables, buffoons and chest-thumping braggarts. And it’s thoroughly bipartisan. But when it comes to being the party of the chuckleheads, there’s no contest – the GOP wins, hands down.

Eve Ottenberg is a novelist and journalist. Her latest book is Busybody. She can be reached at her website.