America is about to embark on two years of legislative chaos–introduced by the embarrassing spectacle of Kevin McCarthy’s total surrender to the craziest MAGA members of the Republican caucus. His eventual “victory”–if you can call securing a title via total emasculation a victory–was facilitated by the remaining caucus members who were too spineless and/or venal to object.
One of the best descriptions of the House Republicans came from Bret Stephens, in his weekly back and forth with Gail Collins in the New York Times.
A few honorable exceptions aside, the G.O.P. is basically split between reptiles and invertebrates. McCarthy is the ultimate invertebrate. He went to Mar-a-Lago just a short while after Jan. 6 to kiss the ring of the guy who incited the mob that, by McCarthy’s own admission, wanted to kill him. He hated Liz Cheney because of her backbone. But he quailed before Marjorie Taylor Greene because she has a forked tongue. He gave away the powers and prerogatives of the office of speaker in order to gain the office, which is like a slug abandoning its shell and thinking it won’t be stepped on. A better man would have told the Freedom Caucus holdouts to shove it. Instead, as a friend of mine put it, McCarthy decided to become the squeaker of the House.
Among McCarthy’s numerous concessions were promises to put some of the most prominent members of the lunatic caucus in charge of committees and “investigations.” It’s hard to choose the most appalling. Jim Jordan at Judiciary is certainly a contender, but for sheer shamelessness, Scott Perry is hard to beat.
Rep. Scott Perry said that being under investigation shouldn’t disqualify him from taking part in any examination of federal investigators conducted by newly empowered House Republicans.
Speaking on ABC’s “This Week,” the Pennsylvania Republican said: “Why should I be limited, why should anybody be limited, just because someone has made an accusation? Everybody in America is innocent until proven otherwise. I would say this, the American people are really, really tired of the persecution and instruments of federal power being used against them.”
Perry pooh-poohed the notion that allowing him to investigate the investigators poses a conflict of interest, suggesting that all elected officials get accused of things, and implying that accusations against him fall within the “it’s just politics” category. As the linked article notes, however,
Perry, the head of the House Freedom Caucus, has been under investigation in relation to the Jan. 6 Capitol riots and other efforts to keep former President Donald Trump in office after he lost the 2020 election; the House select committee on Jan. 6 referred Perry for a review by the House Ethics Committee. His phone has been seized by the Justice Department.
He doesn’t have to worry about the House Ethics Committee–the GOP intends to abolish it.
Following the 15 votes that finally installed McCarthy,and his merry band of reptiles and invertebrates, Jennifer Rubin reflected on the evening’s speeches, observing that “Jeffries governs in poetry, Biden in grace — and the GOP in thuggishness.”
After quoting from Hakeem Jeffries lyrical speech (if you haven’t listened to it, you really should–it was inspiring), Rubin wrote:
All the more impressive for speaking without notes or a teleprompter, Jeffries set a tone for Democrats that was both contemporary and high-minded, fun and sophisticated. With the cadence of a preacher and erudite vocabulary of a professor, he perfectly encapsulated the difference between his party’s optimism and accomplishment and his opponents’ bitterness even in victory.
As she said, in a Congress that is likely to see very little legislating thanks to an unhinged and chaotic majority, Jeffries filled the void with inspirational words and a values-based message.
As Rubin notes, there is an enormous difference between the very human and compassionate vision consistently displayed by President Biden and now echoed by Hakeem Jeffries and that of today’s Republican Party.
Violence (whether inside the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, or inside the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2023) and toxic masculinity seem to be endemic to a party that scorns the police who defended them two years ago and minimizes the brutality of the mob.
This is a crowd that delights in mocking the vulnerable and bullying the defenseless, persecuting refugees, elevating their selfish aims over the needs of others and fanning bitterness and vengefulness….
The Republican Party aim is to define America as a White Christian nation, bolstered by an apocalyptic fear of the Great Replacement conspiracy and a perpetual sense of victimhood….
One doesn’t even need to know the two parties’ policy positions to know there is a world of difference in their vision and character. Poetry and grace on one side, thuggishness and fury on the other. Americans cannot say they lack a stark choice.