Dingus of the Week: Nancy Mace
And her enablers
Every week, I crown a Dingus of the Week. This week, because I broke my wrist, my friend Elon Green offered to write the dingus email. Elon is a journalist whose book Last Call: A True Story of Love, Lust, and Murder in Queer New York will be published on March 9. David Grann calls the book an “astonishing and powerful work of nonfiction,” and who can disagree with Grann?
To be a politics reporter in America is to convince yourself that the people you cover are not, to varying degrees, mendacious monsters. Otherwise, how do you justify getting out of bed in the morning? The job is only possible, I assume, through a healthy dollop of denial.
I bring this up because the day after conservative activists (generously rebranded by media outlets as “Trump supporters”) attempted to overthrow a presidential election and murder lawmakers, Politico shined a friendly spotlight on Nancy Mace, South Carolina’s freshman congresswoman.
“I’m disappointed right now,” she told the reporter. “I’m distraught. We’ve got to rebuild our nation, and we’ve got to rebuild our party. This is not who we are. It’s extremely distressing. And it’s saddening. It’s heartbreaking.” Furthermore, she said of the outgoing president, “everything that he’s worked for… all of that—his entire legacy—was wiped out yesterday.”
It should go without saying that the substance of her quote, save for “extremely distressing,” is false.
The Republican Party does not, in fact, have to be rebuilt. It should not exist, I would argue, and it is unfortunately quite healthy.
This [gestures at everything] is indeed who we are.
Donald Trump’s legacy will never be wiped out. If only that weren’t so!
“New Republican SC Rep Nancy Mace on @msnbc doesn’t close the door on impeachment or the 25th amendment,” tweeted Katy Tur.
“I'm going to be missing @JoeCunninghamSC every time I see Nancy Mace's vote on the roll call. But my one scrap of consolation is, she seems very conscious of the shoes she's filling,” tweeted Matthew Chapman of the progressive Raw Story.
“NEW: Trump demanded loyalty. South Carolina Republican Nancy Mace won’t give it to him anymore,” tweeted Caitlin Byrd, a South Carolina reporter who interviewed Mace.
Politico then went back to the well a week later and applauded Mace as “the most outspoken critic of Trump and the ‘QAnon wing’ in her class” and gushed that she “excoriated some Republicans for their potential roles in inciting the violent mob[.]”
And now to take a big sip from an Etsy mug emblazoned with NANCY MACE IS A RESISTANCE HERO…
A week later, given the opportunity to impeach the insurrectionist president, Mace—along with every one of her colleagues but 10—declined. She blamed the Dems, arguing that “the way the House went about impeachment totally erased any due process for anyone no matter how guilty you feel somebody is.”
A truly pathetic display.
Mace, Daniel Nichanian memorably observed, is “already a powerful symbol for the farce that the GOP’s “concerned” faction has been for the past 4 years: grab headlines for feeling some wise & thoughtful concern, then walk away the moment there’s talk of concrete accountability.”
So: on the biggest vote of her brief career, Mace whiffed. Perhaps she could redeem herself?
On Monday, Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said on Instagram Live that she was a survivor of sexual assault. The disclosure came amid Ocasio-Cortez’s recollections of her own experience during the insurrection, during which she hid in a bathroom. When the bathroom door opened, she said, “I thought I was going to die.”
Mace ended the day by voting to keep Marjorie Taylor Greene, a congresswoman known chiefly for her belief in Jewish space lasers and the QAnon conspiracy, on the education and budget committees.
A true profile in courage for the “outspoken critic” of QAnon.
Mace is not any more or less disappointing than her colleagues. There’s a reason that she, in such polarized times, chooses to be a member of the Republican Party.
So why mention this at all? Because reporters, but especially politics reporters, should hesitate before declaring a lawmaker (of any party, but particularly one openly disdainful of democracy itself) the next big thing. But they don’t. Remember that golden boy, Jeff Flake? The endless encomia for replacement-level John McCain could fill a terrible anthology.
At best, politicians live to disappoint. And Mace, for her part, revealed herself as grotesque and not nearly as divergent from her colleagues as she, and the Fourth Estate, might like to think.
Dingus of the Week is normally for paid subscribers only. This is a sneak peek.