Florida Republican congressman Matt Gaetz insisted Thursday that had he joined the vast majority of his colleagues in standing and applauding Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky before his speech to lawmakers Wednesday, it would have been a “North Korea-style” act.
Appearing on Tucker Carlson’s show, the right-wing representative was introduced as “one of the very few” lawmakers “who didn’t follow the rules and stand up and applaud like a seal as a foreign leader in a sweatshirt lectured our country.” Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO) also remained seated beside Gaetz, while Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) skipped the event altogether.
Carslon, who has made a habit of harping on the war-time leader’s attire, further set the tone for the interview by saying what Gaetz did has been viewed as a “thought-crime” — as if there haven’t been enough references to the novel 1984 lately.
“How much do you love Putin that you didn’t applaud last night,” asked the Fox News host facetiously. (Carlson himself once said that he was rooting for Russia amid its tensions with Ukraine — a comment that he later claimed was a joke.)
“I feel no compunction to go out and applaud some foreign leader from a historically corrupt country who is begging for more than the hundred billion dollars that the Congress has already set to send them,” Gaetz said. Earlier on Thursday, the Senate approved an omnibus spending bill which included nearly $50 billion in aid to the country.
“Now, when President Trump said that America would never be a socialist country, you saw Democrats sit on their hands,” Gaetz continued, referencing a line in the former president’s 2019 State of the Union address. “But when we say you shouldn’t send endless amounts of money to this place where we’re exacerbating death and conflict, it’s like we’re traitors to the movement because Lauren Boebert and I didn’t stand up in some sort of North Korea-style performance.”
Carlson picked up where Gaetz’s ‘America-first’ spiel left off, criticizing Zelenky’s requests for aid.
“This guy has nothing to do with our country. Get what he can. I get it. I’m not even mad at him,” Carlson said. “I’m mad at the people who instinctively bow before some uppity foreigner demanding money that we don’t have.”
Gaetz closed the interview with what he must have thought was a zinger, in light of Zelensky having unfurled a Ukrainian flag signed by front-line soldiers. “At least we found a flag the Democrats were willing to stand for on the floor of the United States Congress,” Gaetz said, making Carlson crack up.