Liz Cheney is right: We're electing idiots — and she's a more dangerous idiot than most

Former GOP congresswoman goes viral with snappy comeback — but if America falls for her act, we're the real idiots

By Brian Karem


Published June 29, 2023 9:08AM (EDT)

Liz Cheney and Donald Trump | The Maricopa County audit (Photo illustration by Salon/Getty Images)
Liz Cheney and Donald Trump | The Maricopa County audit (Photo illustration by Salon/Getty Images)

Longtime White House correspondent Brian Karem writes a weekly column for Salon.

Apparently the world has gone crazy. 

Blame it on that idiot Donald Trump if you want, but in fact our world's bad craziness predates that nattering nabob of narcissism. 

When your first memories of life include John F. Kennedy's assassination and a neighbor who built a bomb shelter under his vegetable garden, craziness is the rule. Mature, rational thinking? I've rarely seen it.

Many have difficulty dealing with the craziness. Few handle it as well as National Security Council spokesman John Kirby. This week in the White House briefing room, Kirby took an idiotic question from a reporter who asked what label we should apply to the weekend melodrama in Russia. His answer has already turned into a meme. "We're not slapping a bumper sticker on it, Ed," Kirby replied.

It takes a special brand of crazy to cut through the clutter of idiocy you see on a daily basis, especially since Trump usually has crazy on sale at half price – and if you buy now you'll get a T-shirt. After all, as he told a Fox News Digital interviewer this week, he doesn't do things wrong. He does them right.

How we got this crazy is up for debate: Maybe it's bad parenting, poor education, lead in the water or eating too much macaroni and cheese. Maybe there's a bran muffin involved. Who knows? But each day Mike Judge's film "Idiocracy" looks more like a documentary and less like satire. 

Don't believe me? Listen to former Rep. Liz Cheney, who said this week: "What we've done in our politics is create a situation where we're electing idiots." Mind you, she has run for office and been elected (until she turned on Trump). But that particular idiot has a point.

And it is the idiocy of our political world that dominates news coverage. It is so endemic that Donald Trump, on a visit to  New Hampshire, called himself a "legitimate person." I'm sure all  his QAnon fans thought he was actually a lizard with a bad skin job. 

But that's just the beginning. If excremental emanations are your forte, then look no further than Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, the idiot who tweeted out Monday morning, "I'm very happy" and "I just love my country," but in the same tweet suggested that the previous night her television had turned itself on and was spying on her. 

But, wait, there's more. Before you use the Way-Back Machine to buy your favorite Ronco Veg-O-Matic that dices, slices and makes julienne fries (whatever in the hell those are) let's visit our next political idiot — Ron DeSantis.

Last week the governor of Florida and presidential aspirant traveled to San Francisco, to tell us within 20 minutes of his arrival that "leftist policies" had caused the city's collapse and that he ran into fentanyl users near boarded-up downtown businesses. He didn't explain why he had to travel across the country to see what he could far more easily see in his home state but, as it turned out, his idiocy was just getting warmed up. 

Monday, hot on the campaign trail and attempting to squeeze into the extreme-right lane previously dominated by Trump, DeSantis showed up in the border city of Eagle Pass, Texas, to talk more about the fentanyl he's so obsessed with This time he went after drug dealers, saying that if the cartel members are "cutting through the border wall" — which doesn't exist, so drug cartels can't circumvent it — "they're going to end up stone-cold dead." There's a whole lot of crazy going on in that sentence. He's talking about a wall that hasn't been built, ignores the fact that cartels use the ports of entry like everyone else and then claims that people are "cutting holes" in the wall  that doesn't exist. That's before you get to the whole "stone-cold dead" part.

DeSantis also said he wants to "end birthright citizenship" if he becomes president. To most of us that sounds like a blatant violation of the Constitution,  but I guess the upside is that we could end DeSantis's citizenship if we wanted to. 

But I'm sorry to say that DeSantis is not the most batshit crazy idiot out there in the world of politics.

Nor is Robert F. Kennedy Jr., who at age 69 says he's preparing for primary debates with Joe Biden by taking his shirt off and doing nine pushups for the camera. He is, of course, more flotsam and jetsam in the idiot stew — preparing for debates that won't happen by doing things that don't matter while speaking in a voice that sounds like he's been gargling razor blades. But as Alan Rickman said in "Galaxy Quest," "I see you managed to get your shirt off." There are some things you just can't unsee. But apparently there's no truth to the rumor that RFK Jr. is going to change his name to Dwayne Elizondo Mountain Dew Herbert Camacho.

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Meanwhile, there are reports that idiot savant Rudy Giuliani is hemorrhaging hair dye, terrified that at any moment he's going to be indicted. But even he isn't the biggest idiot on the political stage.

Some want to claim it is so-called House Speaker Kevin McCarthy who owns the crazy crown. He owes his political life to Donald Trump, yet while he claims to believe that Trump can defeat both Biden and DeSantis to reclaim the presidency next year, he said on Sunday that he's not sure Trump is the best choice for the Republican Party. Crazy, right? Not so. The crazy part is that McCarthy was forced to spend the next two days contorting himself into knots as he apologized for that comment.

This problem isn't  just in the United States. You can point to just about any world leader and find an idiot. The Idiot Zen master of disaster with the complexion of alabaster is Vlad "The Impaler" Putin. His actions in Ukraine led to one of his closest allies, Yevgeny Prigozhin — another idiot, and the head of the criminal mercenary outfit called the Wagner Group —  to complain about his 50,000-man private army being used as cannon fodder. So Prigozhin turned his army around and marched toward Moscow, collecting Russian booty, shooting down Russian planes and taking over a city in the process. Then, just as suddenly, it was over.

Putin apparently made a deal that sends Prigozhin to Belarus for a first-round draft choice, while Prigozhin's army gets a pass on charges of treason. Everyone ends up happy! For the moment. That deal was cut by Aleksandr Lukashenko, the leader of Belarus, a country known as the North Korea of Europe. Another idiot.

Closer to home, our reigning champion idiot, Trump, can't seem to get much attention any more. His recent appearance in New Hampshire looked like an Amway convention. His antics on stage, although crazy enough, are wearing thin for most Americans as the toll from two impeachments, two felony indictments and two more criminal investigations continues to eat away at him.

But his loyal idiots, those benighted Americans who continue to worship him, have not given up. They continue to attack Joe Biden, the actual president, accusing him of suffering from dementia while also promoting the theory that he's an evil genius working with the CIA to encourage the Wagner Group's brief rebellion — all in order to hide Hunter Biden's alleged crimes. Idiots.

You can't expect anything better from a group of people who believe Trump's claims that the classified documents he held at Mar-a-Lago and claimed he didn't have, before saying they were planted by the FBI — and then admitting he had them, while claiming he had declassified them with his mind – were safely stored in a bunch of cardboard boxes scattered around the place, including in a bathroom and on an open stage. 

Liz Cheney is right. What a bunch of idiots. 

She's also right in saying that Donald Trump must be indicted for the actions he took, not only at Mar-a-Lago but on and before Jan. 6, 2021. 

But listen: Cheney is no hero. She voted with Trump more than 93 percent of the time when he was president. She supported the idiot she now condemns. She is a danger.

Cheney's danger is that she has crossover appeal. As the idiotic Trump continues his slow implosion in public, along with his minions like MTG and his opponents like DeSantis, there is a growing infatuation with Cheney because she stood up to Trump and helped lead the Jan. 6 hearings.

She couldn't get elected today as a Republican. But the election isn't today. It is next November. Republicans are notorious for their "win at any cost" mentality. If they ever figure out that Cheney has enormous crossover appeal, and if they understand that if she gets elected Republicans could permanently flip a lot of voters — by becoming the first party to elect a woman as president — then Biden and the Democrats could be doomed.

But the truth is, even in that unlikely but dire scenario, Cheney would still be right: We just keep electing idiots.  

By Brian Karem

Brian Karem is the former senior White House correspondent for Playboy. He has covered every presidential administration since Ronald Reagan, sued Donald Trump three times successfully to keep his press pass, spent time in jail to protect a confidential source, covered wars in the Middle East and is the author of seven books. His latest is "Free the Press."

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Commentary Donald Trump Elections Joe Biden Kevin Mccarthy Liz Cheney Republicans Ron Desantis