Sen. Mike Lee and the Chinese spy balloon are both full of hot air | Private Eye | Salt Lake City Weekly

Sen. Mike Lee and the Chinese spy balloon are both full of hot air 

Private Eye

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This evening, while I'm leapfrogging between episodes of The White Lotus (late to the game) and Poker Face (up to speed), President Biden will deliver his State of the Union address to Congress.

The only reason I may tune in would be to catch a glimpse of the Republican Party leadership—Lauren Boebert, Marjorie Taylor Greene, Matt Gaetz, Paul Gosar and the lot—defile what remains of their burnt souls once again on national television. I'd look through the speech attendees to see if anyone—perhaps a bold, America-first consort such as Utah Reps. Chris Stewart and Burgess Owens or Sen. Mike Lee—might rise to condemn their clownish antics.

But they won't.

It isn't required that the president deliver such a speech to Congress, let alone during prime TV viewing time. As you may know, I'm no constitutional scholar, so just ask the only living man who was present when the Constitution was written, Sen. Mike Lee, if you doubt me.

Lee can thus be trusted when he says he knows the intent of the authors and signatories of the Constitution, when no one else can. Lee knows the president is only required to deliver an update of our country's well-being and "from time to time give to Congress information of the State of the Union and recommend to their Consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient."

Lee is only a strict constitutionalist when he sees fit. On one day he is a conniving, Constitution back-stabbing coach of Team Insurrection but, on other days, he is a blind-eyed pragmatist siding with the likes of duplicitous First Amendment protectors like Elon Musk, climate change deniers, fake health science promulgators and Chinese balloon-theory floaters.

Mike Lee is a creep. I've shared many a cocktail with creeps. I know creeps. My problem with Lee isn't that he's a creep. It's that he never picks up the tab.

This past week, a giant balloon of Chinese origin crossed over our country at an elevation of more than 60,000 feet above sea level—higher than our jet fighter craft typically fly. Lee was quick to insert his foot in his mouth this past week by tweeting—in all caps for effect—for President Biden to SHOOT DOWN THE BALLOON.

But how, Mike Lee? His insurrectionist sister-in-arms, Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, extolled her followers to just shoot it down themselves, presumably with their personal stockpile of arms. Like that, Mike?

It seemed like such a good idea at the time for Republicans and their supplicants in right-wing media to rally around the idiotic notion that because Biden didn't pull the trigger within minutes of the balloon discovery, he was unfit to lead (not like, say, former President Trump, whom they claimed would have taken swift action against the giant white thingy). But since the balloon was brought down without incident other than silly carping from the PR wing of the Chinese Communist Party, and since it was revealed that there were similar balloon flyovers during Trump's presidency, Lee has gradually moderated his tone.

Indeed, his most recent tweet reads, "President Biden, I'm sorry for being an opportunist asshat. You had more information, and you reasonably wanted our military to glean any and all useful data from it before it fell. You even considered that rash actions might hurt innocent Americans on the ground. I laud your decision and await your call to arms against our common enemy, the wind."

Nah, he didn't say that—but he should have. His @BasedMikeLee Twitter feed the past two days has moved on to subjects like his smarmy, tongue-in-the-ear affection for Elon Musk. New day, new fake crisis.

That's how Mike Lee doesn't pay the tab. He just keeps ordering drinks, even stupid umbrella drinks and waits until people forget who owns the bill. Trump was a master at that. It's like the entire Republican party has embraced the Trump model. Just talk lots of shit talk to keep everyone up in arms.

In time, even Republicans realize they've been had. But they can't admit it, so they marvel at the con and conflate it as strength, vision and leadership. In time, people even forget that over a million of our fellow citizens died of COVID, job growth died and that the national debt grew to, yes, the heights of a Chinese spy balloon and, all the while, Mike Lee was a U.S. senator pledged to serve for the benefit of all Americans.

But not all of us forget so easily. I was only 3 years old in 1957 when Russia launched its Sputnik satellite. One night, my dad took me outside to look up into the night sky and sure enough, at the appointed time, about 200 miles above earth, Sputnik transited over Utah and the crystal-clear skies of Bingham Canyon. Blip. Blip. Blip.

America was transfixed—or rather, terrified. Our nation's reaction wasn't mockery; it was to advance our own goals and within 10 years, we walked on the moon.

Who in America was similarly scared last week? Anyone? The balloon, for all the hullabaloo, became just one more shouting point, one more pile of slop at the pig trough. Once it's gone, it's gone.

For Utah politicians, the timing couldn't have been better. Last week, most Wasatch Front residents couldn't see their own rooftops, let alone a balloon 15 miles high. Did I miss the part where someone actually took real action regarding our foul air?

If the balloon had floated over Utah, we likely would never have seen it. Just like every other problem in Mike Lee's America: It's easier to imagine a problem and raise hell about that than to actually do something about the ones that really exist.

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About The Author

John Saltas

John Saltas

John Saltas is a lamb eating, Bingham Canyon native, City Weekly feller who'd rather be in Greece.

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