Here are two seemingly contradictory, but actually extremely compatible facts that can — despite what flattening simplistic absolutists on Twitter might have you believe — exist comfortably alongside one another:
1) Is it very good and necessary to yell at elected officials — particularly ones who seem to forget that they’re not untouchable monarchs, but in fact public servants answerable to the very people whose interests they so often ignore.
2) Using an event for children who still believe in Santa Claus as a forum to tell the president to fuck himself (even if it’s couched in the lamest, cotton-candy dull, self-congratulatory “code” imaginable) makes you a real asshole.
Which brings me to Jared Schmeck, a former Oregon cop who spent his Christmas Eve dropping the latest conservative shibboleth all for ... well, I’m not sure why, really. The lulz? The pageviews? The problem with a juvenile catchphrase like “let’s go Brandon” is that it doesn’t really have a point, beyond a basic inarticulate sense of sophomoric yuks. But he said it nonetheless, while on a Christmas Eve phone call with President Biden:
This is what Schmeck chose to do with his Christmas Eve. Which is fine, I suppose, except for the fact that now he’s sad that people aren’t quite as amused by his impish dedication to being a total dick as he is. I’m guessing that it might have something to do with the whiplash-inducing about-face he made. First, he insisted, “I understand there is a vulgar meaning to ‘Lets go Brandon,’ but I’m not that simple-minded, no matter how I feel about him. He seems like he’s a cordial guy. There’s no animosity or anything like that. It was merely just an innocent jest to also express my God-given right to express my frustrations in a joking manner. ... I love him just like I love any other brother or sister.”
Then, in a separate interview, he said that “Donald Trump is my president and he should still be president right now. The election was 100% stolen.”
Hm, suddenly it seems like there might have been some animosity after all!
In any case, less than a week after bursting onto the national political scene by basically taking a rhetorical dump in the president’s Christmas eggnog, Schmeck has already moved onto the next inevitable phase of right wing clout-chasing: teasing a run for office.
In an interview with conservative lunatic Todd “got fired from Fox News for claiming Democrats worship Moloch” Starnes on Tuesday, Schmeck claimed he was seriously considering a future in politics. “I want to pray about it,” he said, “see what God has for me.”
“At the end of the day, I want His will for my life and the direction that it goes,” Schmeck continued. “I strongly believe that standing up is the right thing to do here as long as that message that I’m portraying is glorifying His name. And yeah, I’ll see where it goes.”
Schmeck added that he’d be “honored” if former President Donald Trump chose to invite him to Mar-a-Lago, as Starnes suggested elsewhere in the interview.
But this isn’t really about Schmeck. At least, not exactly. Instead, think of him as just the latest, and arguably most unambiguous, iteration of what passes for conservative bona fides these days. Like the St. Louis gun couple and acquitted killer Kyle Rittenhouse, Schmeck has become a right-wing hero simply for being an unapologetic asshole. And not just a hero, but, as he explained to Starnes, one with an eye toward a future role within the GOP — just like the gun-toting McCloskeys, who followed up an appearance at the Republican National Convention with a campaign for Senate, and Rittenhouse, who was welcomed with fireworks and rap music at one of the country’s premier right-wing conferences.
As Schmeck has so perfectly illustrated in just a matter of days, this is the fundamental pipeline for talent that slithers its way through America’s right-wing. Ideas and ideology all take a backseat to anyone willing to show their ass in the name of some vague platitudes about “freedom,” who really just likes getting attention for being various degrees of awful and obnoxious. And if the GOP of 2021 has shown us anything, that’s not a wholly unsuccessful strategy: Look at Lauren Boebert, Madison Cawthorn, and Marjorie Taylor Greene. But the more people like Schmeck who look at the Boeberts and Cawthorns of Congress and act on their “why not me?” sense of opportunism, the more likely the GOP is going to face the fundamental consequence of elevating an entire congressional class of attention-seekers and shit-stirrers. Sure, they might win some elections, but actual successful governing? Not so much.