I was speaking to a friend of mine recently about the preposterous nonsense going on with House Republicans and their inability to elect a speaker. “They need to find someone who only has six months to live. They will get the sympathy vote, and they’ll have an out when that person dies,” he joked.
“They already tried that, to a degree,” I answered, in a more serious tone. “Steve Scalise is being treated for blood cancer, and he didn’t get an ounce of sympathy, so he pulled out of the speaker’s race instead of making himself sicker.” (As a side note of concern, Scalise isn’t dying, and I hope he makes a speedy recovery.).
Former Speaker Kevin McCarthy failed 14 times in January, winning — or losing, if you really think about it — on the 15th try. When the extremists dumped McCarthy, Scalise put his name up and won the chance to run, but didn’t even bother to try since he knew he was doomed.
That allowed the horridly obtuse Rep. Jim Jordan to put his name forward. He lost three times — I think all those years of wrestling, boxed ears, and abuse allegations, made him immune to the word “no.”
If anyone would know the meaning of “no,” or “NO,” in this case, it would be Jordan. Former Republican House Speaker John Boehner called him a “legislative terrorist,” meaning that he said no to legislation instead of trying to find compromise and agreement. In fact, during his over 10-year tenure in the House, he’s never had one bill signed into law. How do you even consider someone as speaker who has zero, none, zilch success legislating?
And soaring rhetoric, like Jimmy Stewart’s in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, is not Jordan’s forte. His diatribes are deliriously diabolical. More like Chief Bromden in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. As a matter of fact, the whole caucus is cuckoo.
I spoke to California Rep. Zoe Lofgren last week, and she told me that one Republican told her if Jordan were to become speaker, there would only be 165 Republican votes in the next Congress. It’s hard to see, with no speaker and no results except shutdowns, and letting terrorists and tyrants win, how the party could even reach 165.
Call them whatever you want, lugheads, knuckleheads, dysfunctional, morons, numbskulls, or as Sen. John Fetterman, a Democrat, told me during a recent Zoom call, dopes and jagoffs (that latter being a Pittsburgh vernacular). House Republicans defy explanation, defy description, and are defying every conceivable sense of reasoning.
I hear people liken their insanity, and the Republicans’ inability to govern, to the films Groundhog Day, Dumber and Dumber, No Way Out, and Idiocracy. But none of them are sufficient. It’s more like Godzilla. Donald Trump, a.k.a. Godzilla, like everything else he touches, turned the House into a scary torture chamber, with bullying threats and “F*CK OFF’s” not toward Democrats, but among Republicans themselves. They are from the Hatfields & McCoys – a comparable television show — who are battling each within the Republican caucus.
Godzilla is also analogous because there have been 29 sequels in that franchise. The House Republican horror movie, if you count the speaker votes and near-miss government shutdown, is at 19, with more two-thumbs-down installments ahead by these bumbling idiots.
What will this mean for the House Republicans’ new, albeit most likely brief, Speaker Louisiana Rep. Mike Johnson? Who is Mike Johnson? Exactly! He was the former chairman of the Republican Study Committee, the largest conservative caucus in the House. He was on Trump’s legal team during one of his impeachments. He voted not to certify the 2020 election. The New York Times called him one of the leading architects of the phony electoral college scheme.
He is rabidly pro-life. He is against funding for Ukraine. And antigay. He’s the House’s version of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, sponsoring a bill to deny funding for educational institutions that “say gay” to children under 10. He is an evangelical Christian — nothing wrong with that until there is.
When the media tried questioning Johnson last night about some of these issues where he’s been an “extremist,” North Carolina Rep. Virginia Foxx kept yelling “shut up,” like telling kids to stay out of her yard. She was particularly harsh to ABC News reporter Rachel Scott who was asking some of the questions. On Good Morning America Wednesday morning when Scott wrapped up her report, anchor Robin Roberts added an unusual commentary, telling Scott, “You had every right to ask your questions.”
The fact people don’t know Johnson is why moderates supported him. Jordan was too much of a firebrand. Nobody except political wonks knew who Johnson was, so the middle-of-the-roaders climbed on board, despite the fact that he is an extremist like Jordan. The moderates won’t be able to hide their support for a man who shuns democracy, feels President Joe Biden should be impeached, and won’t admit that Trump lost the election. Long-time Republican consultant Stuart Stevens said that Johnson was Jordan with a suit coat. In other words, he’s a wolf in sheep’s clothing.
The House agreeing to Johnson was a Miracle on 34th Street, but it stops there. Johnson, the victor — or more aptly put, a victim — has an unknown background and an unknown future. What do we really know about this guy? What hope does Johnson have for lasting more than one month? Because now that he’s ascended to the chair, all hell is going to break loose.
The new speaker will immediately be hit with having to make a deal with the devil, in this case Democrats, to pass a 2024 budget or risk a government shutdown. Republican moderates will again be put on the spot and will now be careful not to support anything that looks too extreme.
Johnson will need to pass a motion even to consider President Biden’s emergency request to fund support for Ukraine and Israel, and humanitarian aid — which he has opposed at time in the case of Ukraine, so there’s a quagmire of epic portions in waiting. All three bills that face the House are humongous pieces of legislation that are doomed from the get-go. If the new speaker cannot get his caucus to agree amongst themselves, agreeing with Democrats is the only remaining option, but an impossibility. Mission: Impossible, without all the thrilling stunts.
It won’t be the least bit thrilling. It will be an epic failure, and we will all pay the consequences. Indeed, there really is No Way Out for the Republican Party and the improbable new speaker, Johnson. And you know what?
If you think for a minute that a government shutdown will be avoided and that Biden will get his foreign aid funds, you would be sadly mistaken. I hope I’m wrong, but that will all be tangled up in a big mess, and once again, Republicans will be tagged as do nothing.
Frustrated Americans have already had enough of the game Republicans are playing with their inability to elect a speaker. They are fed up, and if a government shutdown occurs, there may be no turning back in the eyes of the electorate. Simply put, House Republicans have used up all of America’s patience on their whack-a-mole Speaker game, so there’s no room for error moving forward, which they won’t be able to do.
And you can then forget about a Speaker Johnson lasting until the end of the year. If he makes a deal with Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries to pass a budget, he will be shot down. If he makes a deal to pass Biden’s emergency support for Ukraine and Israel, he will be shot down for that too. Can you imagine House Republicans supporting anything that Biden supports? The new speaker wants Biden impeached, for God’s sake! Republicans don’t care that a vast majority of Americans support Biden’s foreign policy. They just don’t care about anything.
The new, albeit short-lived speaker will be vacated immediately — remember, it only takes one member, or Matt Gaetz, to bring up the motion. And Gaetz could care less that he’s being told to “F**K OFF!” When those klieg lights emanating from television cameras shine on Gaetz, it’s like a drug. He can’t get enough of seeing his name in the headlines — his colleagues be damned!
After the new speaker is vacated, the search for a new Republican speaker will start all over again. A House caucus, divided amongst itself, and leaderless, is impossible to stand. It will sink, in a Poseidon Adventure-esque way. The party will drown in its ineptitude.
Democratic campaign ads about the Republicans descending into a hell pit are already in the can; however, Democratic strategists are going to have to go back and update them, with the extremist Johnson being second in line for the presidency, and with all the travesties that lie ahead.
Which all raises the question, are we watching, in real time, the Armageddon of the Republican Party?