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Beyond Mercy and Grace
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Beyond Mercy and Grace

Rep. Lauren Boebert tends to make everything about the least important issue in America—herself.

Rep. Lauren Boebert at the U.S. Capitol on October 25, 2023, in Washington. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Dear Rep. Boebert,

You and I have a couple of things in common—not much, but something. First: I too have been thrown out of a theater, and it was in all the papers, though in my case it was good for my (nonexistent) political career, while your shenanigans seem to be hurting yours. Second: I was, for a time, a resident of the House district you represent—not in ritzy Aspen, but in the relatively hardscrabble town of Craig, known as the elk-hunting capital of the world where the main businesses (in my time there) were coal and a gas-pipeline project. 

While the very real possibility that you will lose your House seat—either to a primary challenger or in the general as Colorado trends Democratic—sinks in, you have been speaking hopefully of “a lot of mercy and a lot of grace,” as though being deprived of these were your problem. 

That isn’t your problem. 

But while we are on that subject, you might ask yourself: If the tables were turned, and a political rival had behaved in the way you have behaved, how much mercy and grace would you be extending toward that person? If it were a Democrat, you’d be vicious. And if it were a Republican, you’d be even worse. You are due for some penance and contrition, and half-assed self-aggrandizing nonsense (“I was a little too eccentric … I’m on the edge of a lot of things”) isn’t going to do it. Your opening crisis-control strategy—lying about what had happened—did not help much. But you lie about a lot of things, and everybody knows that about you. God’s mercy may be a free gift, but if you want to earn back the good graces of the people you represent, you’re going to have to do some work. 

It probably would be better for everybody, including you, if you went and did something else in life and let someone more capable represent the people of your district. 

Let’s focus on the word represent for a second. Ultimately, you are in Congress on behalf of others, but you have a tendency to make everything about the least important issue in America—you. The people you represent may decide, at some point, that they wish to be represented instead of being used as a platform for whatever daft pseudo-celebrity ambitions you have for yourself. 

Probably the House of Representatives is not the best place for you. The temptations of the office are too great for a weak character such as yours. You haven’t conducted yourself like a legislator; you have conducted yourself like a performance artist. But if you are going to stay in the House, or try, then you probably ought to think about starting to do your job. Because if you are going to lose your seat, it isn’t because the easygoing people of your district have branded you with a scarlet letter. It is because you are a terrible representative in both senses of the word: bad at the job of being in the House and bad at personally carrying forward the interests and the values of the people on whose behalf you serve, or on whose behalf you are supposed to be serving. 

One of your problems—and I don’t think you quite understand this—is that you aren’t on a legislative career path. You are on a reality television career path, a kind of Real Housewives with real consequences. 

The fall from grace and ritual humiliation is a pretty common (damn near universal) part of the reality television story arc, and that is where you are right now. No doubt you are looking forward to the triumphal celebrity comeback and giving that big speech in which you consider with false humility “everything I’ve been through” (any halfway decent writer could have the script down cold a year or more in advance), but not every entertainment figure gets that story arc. Sometimes, you’re Robert Downey Jr., sometimes, you’re DMX. But in spite of their disparate outcomes, those two had something important in common: real talent. You don’t have that—do you feel very much like Iron Man? You have a kind of low talent for self-promotion, and that has carried you to where you find yourself. 

I am all for grace and mercy for people who go through terrible things, including rich and powerful people who go through terrible self-inflicted things in public. As I once wrote about troubled basketball star Allen Iverson, if you had given me his money and his fame at the age he got them, I’d have turned out a lot worse than he did (and I had a lot of advantages in life that he didn’t). I do not enjoy seeing people humiliated, even when they have it coming. (And we all have it coming.) 

And while I believe—as I assume all right-thinking people believe—that you are an absolute cancer on American politics, one who somehow manages to be beneath the standards of the God-forsaken Republican Party, I do not especially want to see you humiliated. One way to reduce that humiliation—one you should probably think about—would be returning to private life. 

That decision might get made for you. 

Because for all your talk about “mercy” and “grace,” the question facing the people of your district isn’t really a moral one. In the greater scheme of things, it doesn’t matter very much that you behave like … whatever it is you are. The question for the people of your district is a prudential one: Does having Lauren Boebert as our representative serve our interests? 

I can’t imagine that many of them—aside from your fellow QAnon cultists and nuts of that kind—really believe that it does. I don’t know your district all that well, but I can think of a half a dozen people who live there who would do a better job for Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District than you do. I am sure that there are people who live there who can think of 50. William F. Buckley Jr. once joked that he’d prefer to be governed by the first 2,000 names in the Boston phone book than by the 2,000 faculty of Harvard; I don’t know how big the Grand Junction phone book is, but I am confident it contains someone who can do your job with more skill and dedication—and less shame and drama—than you. You talk about this as though it were personal, but it isn’t personal: It’s business. And you are bad for pretty much every business except TMZ. 

I am all for mercy and grace, but that has nothing to do with whether you belong in the House of Representatives. This isn’t about you, Rep. Boebert. And your problem is that you still haven’t figured that out. 

Kevin D. Williamson is national correspondent at The Dispatch and is based in Virginia. Prior to joining the company in 2022, he spent 15 years as a writer and editor at National Review, worked as the theater critic at the New Criterion, and had a long career in local newspapers. He is also a writer in residence at the Competitive Enterprise Institute. When Kevin is not reporting on the world outside Washington for his Wanderland newsletter, you can find him at the rifle range or reading a book about literally almost anything other than politics.