God love Louie Gohmert, the terror of Tyler, the cantankerous congressman from East Texas: he’s got himself into trouble again. No, we’re not talking about the fight last weekend, when a group of his supporters apparently beat up the campaign manager of his Democratic opponent. (They say they were provoked.) After weeks of defiantly refusing to wear a mask in Washington, D.C., he has the coronavirus.
This is, as the marketers say, quite “on brand.” We’re talking about the guy who recently said the Germans had invented a “mist” that kills the virus; nominated Newt Gingrich to be the speaker of the House in 2012; claimed that ISIS was sending Muslim women to the United States to bear “terror babies”, perhaps by learning Spanish and impersonating Hispanics; accused the Jewish George Soros of complicity in the Holocaust; and called former FBI director Robert Mueller an “anal opening.”
Gohmert only found out that he was positive because he had to take a test in order to fly on Air Force One with President Donald Trump to Midland. While he didn’t get on that plane, the test came too late for the many other maskless Republican notables that Gohmert has been seen with recently—including Attorney General Bill Barr.
And too late for his poor staff. After Politico reported that Gohmert had tested positive, reporter Jake Sherman received what he said was an email from a Gohmert aide: “Jake, thank you for letting our office know Louie tested positive for the Coronavirus. When you write your story, can you include the fact that Louie requires full staff to be in the office, including three interns, so that ‘we could be an example to America on how to open up safely.’ When probing the office, you might want to ask how often were people berated for wearing masks.”
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When the time came to inform the staff that Gohmert had tested positive, the congressman did it himself … by gathering everyone in a room to deliver the bad news. Let’s all say a prayer for Mr. Gohmert, and say a few more for his staff as well as the unfortunate cafeteria and janitorial workers who have served him as he’s gone about flipping the double bird at the medical experts’ advice regarding COVID. It’s an unfortunate business. More unfortunate because just a few weeks ago Gohmert had appeared set to provide a genuine public service for perhaps the first time in his colorful career. In an unexpected plot twist, Gohmert had come up with a way to move past our unfortunate mask impasse.
At hearings, when most of his colleagues were diligently wearing masks, Gohmert took to wearing a blue-patterned bandanna folded in half, covering his nose and mouth, tied behind his head. The bandanna was almost certainly not as effective as a proper mask; it was made of a light, breathable fabric, and he frequently let it hang from his neck, a good look for Louie but hardly protective against the ’rona. In a strange way it looked downright cool. It was as if he and his posse—the Gohmert Gang, or Louie’s Boys—were holed up with their horses in an arroyo outside Amarillo, waiting to rob the stagecoach from Tucumcari.
Do you know how certain dads buy “tactical” baby gear—with camouflage prints and military themes? (“Ditch the girly diaper bag,” says one brand’s website. “Your diaper bag isn’t your child’s accessory—it’s yours,” which rather seems to imply the dad is wearing diapers.) Gohmert’s bandanna suggested a Clintonian third way to the mask problem. Many men seem reluctant to wear masks because they perceive them as effeminate, or submissive.
Perhaps role-playing was the answer. They could be bandits, like Gohmert. Or Navy SEALs. Imagine Punisher masks, or whole-face Master Chief masks, from Halo. Masks you stuff in your belt holster. Liberals wouldn’t want you to wear these masks, per se, but that’s kinda the point. By letting certain Americans feel cool and rebellious while wearing protective equipment, perhaps, the public health crisis could be mitigated.
But Gohmert let his bandanna slip and then he caught the ’rona. Now we’ll never know if he could have helped save America. The stagecoach is safe, for a couple weeks at least, while Gohmert goes in for a full course of hydroxychloroquine.
Does he regret not wearing a mask? No, of course not. He told East Texas news station KETK that he thought the bandanna was probably responsible for him getting sick in the first place—the reason being that he spent so much time touching the mask, and thus his face. Gohmert cannot fail; he can only be failed. This is the first rule of Gohmert.
In unrelated news: Italy, which had the worst coronavirus crisis in the world until fairly recently, reported three COVID-19 deaths today.