The Washington Post’s eminent columnist Dana Milbank turns his rapier-like wit on Colorado’s most outrageous Republican freshman member of Congress ever, Rep. Lauren “Q*Bert” Boebert, and Milbank’s conclusion in his latest column is similar to what we’ve been warning about for some months now. Boebert, despite a willingness to say absolutely any wacky thing that comes to mind if it keeps her in the headlines, is losing the charisma competition to the more experienced or, failing that, just plain more outrageously crazy conservative fringe luminaries she shares the congressional spotlight with:
[S]he has languished as a poor man’s Sarah Palin and a third-rate Josh Hawley, [Pols emphasis] as others seize the spotlight with superior antics. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.), another QAnon aficionado, inflamed the House with her antisemitic talk of Jewish “space lasers” and likening public health guidelines to the . Rep. Louie Gohmert at a confab of QAnon types where the violent overthrow of the U.S. government was contemplated. Rep. Andrew Clyde (R-Ga.) compared the Jan. 6 insurrection to a “normal tourist visit.”
Boebert had to raise her game. And on Wednesday, she gave it her best shot. She assembled 10 colleagues in the House TV studio to announce her new resolution to censure Biden — a reprimand that a chamber of Congress has delivered only once in U.S. history, to Andrew Jackson — over Biden’s border policy. “The Biden regime has punched our Border Patrol agents in the face!” she shouted, after calling Vice President Harris “Cackling Kamala.”
Not bad. But Boebert was immediately overshadowed by her colleagues, who put on a clinic in crazy talk…
Like fellow freshman low-info bombthrower Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, Lauren Boebert is constantly in a race to eclipse her last controversy by instigating a fresh one–the classic Donald Trump strategy by which individual events that could become major political catastrophes are continuously subsumed by the next jaw-dropper, thus reducing the harm done by any of them. This constant drumbeat of partisan hyperbole also in theory is what keeps the campaign coffers full of grassroots cash, but as we’ve seen so far this year Boebert has not been able to turn her fringe-right persona into cash with nearly the efficiency of MTG or Rep. Madison Cawthorn.
And why is that? Well, Dana Milbank thinks Boebert just isn’t as good at staying in control of her message:
Fox News’s Chad Pergram asked Boebert — twice — to contrast her Biden censure with the Jackson censure, in 1834. Both times, Boebert’s answer betrayed no indication that she knew who Andrew Jackson was.
While Boebert struggled, Greene used the questions to deliver unrelated rants about socialism, Fauci, antifa, BLM and defund the police. “This is systematic destruction to our country,” she said. “We have many members in the Democrat Party that you could definitely look at … and you could call them communist.”
Boebert stood silently, hands clasped. She was in the presence of a master.
It’s not that MTG knows more about American history or any other subject than Boebert. The difference is that MTG makes no attempt to respond to questions she does not understand, pivoting seamlessly her own list of talking points that need have nothing to do with the question. Boebert on the other hand doesn’t have the self-awareness to know when she’s providing a clueless answer, and doesn’t have the stage presence to bridge the obvious gaps in her comprehension of the issues.
At a certain level, it’s not about the politics, fringe or otherwise. This is about stagecraft, charisma, and the ability to stay on message under pressure. There are public figures who do this well, and others who despite their initial buzz simply do not.
“Boring Boebert” made a splash in Colorado’s hinterlands, but she’s not keeping up in the big pond.