The Party’s Over

Okay. I was waiting for the spectacle to conclude before commenting on the ongoing sh*t show in the House of Representatives, but I can no longer restrain myself. 

Let me begin with points made by observers more astute and informed than I am.

After day one, Robert Reich wrote that we are witnessing the “mindless hostility of a political party that’s lost any legitimate reason for being. For all practical purposes, the Republican party is over.”  

The party line became confused, its message garbled, its purpose unclear. It thereby created an opening for a third and far angrier phase, centering on resentment and authoritarianism…

Today’s Republican base is fueling hate. It is the epicenter of an emerging anti-democracy movement.

What we are seeing played out today in the contest for the speakership of the House involves all of these phases – what remains of the small-government establishment, the cultural warriors and the hate-filled authoritarians – engaged in hopeless, hapless combat with each other.

In the Washington Post, Matt Bai focused on McCarthy’s multiple deficits.

During the Boehner era, which now seems like some distant eon when woolly mammoths roamed the Earth, the future of the Republican Party was said to belong to three of his younger colleagues. They called themselves the “young guns,” but a better metaphor now would be the three little pigs.

The pigs were Cantor, Ryan and McCarthy. The first two left when the “MAGA wolf” blew their houses down.

Unlike the other two, who got by on guile and smarts, McCarthy’s gift was his easy charm. No one was going to mistake him for a Mensa candidate, but he was fun and flexible.

If McCarthy emerges with the title by ceding effective control to the crazies, he will  be neutered.  As Bai points out, appeasement of extremists never works . Acquiescence to irrational demands just encourages more irrational demands.

As McCarthy’s humiliation continued through day two, Reed Galen of the Lincoln Project wrote (no link)

This is not a clash of ideals on what kind of tax policy or health care is best for our country. It is a bare-knuckle brawl for power – and given Democratic control of the White House and Senate, all the GOP can do is cause chaos — it is a brawl that is not going to end well for America.

Do you, reading this email, think letting Lauren Boebert fire the Speaker on a whim is a good idea? What about letting MTG, Gaetz, and others have their own private lawsuit power? That’s what the crazies are asking for in their “negotiations.” Not policy. Not representing their constituents. Personal power to take this thing off a cliff and try to hang it around Joe Biden’s neck.

If there is any doubt about that desire to take America off a cliff, one holdout was  quoted as saying he wouldn’t vote for McCarthy without a commitment to shut the government down rather than raise the debt ceiling. He defined that commitment as “a non-negotiable item.”  If that isn’t insanity, it’s a close relative. 

Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo has observed that–while every Republican Congressperson isn’t the same as Jim Jordan or Matt Gaetz– virtually all of them rely on a coalition of voters that supports Jim Jordan and Matt Gaetz. Today’s GOP is a “balkanized party made up of elected officials who either are Jim Jordan or aren’t willing to cross Jim Jordan.”

As if the chaos, dysfunction and sheer insanity on display aren’t worrisome enough, Robert Hubbell has highlighted an even more ominous development

McCarthy made a smidgen of progress that may have secured an additional vote or two on Wednesday evening. But that progress came at a deeply disturbing cost that should concern every American. The details of the agreement negotiated by McCarthy are complicated and obscure—deliberately so because they involve a “treaty” between two dark money PACs that fund GOP candidates for the House. The fact that the election of a constitutional officer—the Speaker of the House—is being brokered by dark money PACs is an insult to the rule of law and an open wound on democracy…

To use a technical term, the agreement “stinks to high Heaven.” 

At the end of day three, it turned out that even this unprecedented intervention by the GOP’s dark money donors wasn’t enough to move the lunatic caucus. As I write this, there have been eleven votes, and the House still has no Speaker. 

Disarray is too mild a description. We are watching the death throes of an American political party. The question now is: what comes next?


  1. I see the chaos as an opportunity. If the Democrats could find a moderate Republican, one who did not vote to oppose the election results and could work for all Americans to legislate and make progress toward a better world, all they would need is a handful of like-minded Republicans to join them and there would be a Speaker they could work with. It is going to be a Republican in any case, so now is a chance to put someone in place who is not part of the crazy caucus.
    This would accomplish several things: it would (again) deny McCarthy his coveted Speakership. It would be another step in wiping away the sh*t stain of MAGA and Tr*mp from government, and it would help move the GOP back towards the center.
    I’m sure there is a Republican who fits the bill. This is an opportunity and I hope someone in the House can recognize it and take effective action.

  2. Or perhaps a few sane Republicans will vote for Hakeem Jeffries and we could get back to a more normal path. He does not need very many votes to get over the top. It will only take a few sane Republicans. One can hope.

  3. It is as if the side show is taking over the carnival while the opposition party stands in unison with abundant popcorn enjoying the demolition derby. The freaks from the side show have escaped from their cages and seized the microphone from the presumed and sidelined carnival barker. Some 18th Century soul is taking notes to write what portends to be the 21st Century’s greatest tragic novel with all the classic literature characters from the darkest dens of human depravity.

  4. A few of the worst of the worst republicans have foolishly tried to talk some of the Dems they have viciously attacked into voting for one of the crazy R speaker hopefuls, but the Dems are steering clear of this republican sh&t show.

    Maybe all this craziness will give one of the investigators of Santos’ campaign finance disclosures enough time to uncover the lies that would prevent him from being sworn in.

  5. @ James Todd –
    A few days ago, I mentioned this very idea – here, and on some other places. I’ve had to endure some ridicule for mentioning Liz Cheney as a possibility. I wholeheartedly disagree with Ms. Cheney– and Adam Kinzinger as well – on almost every policy issue, except that they were the only Republicans who stood up publicly in defense of democracy. It all doesn’t seem so crazy now, it actually makes a lot of sense. Let’s hope that sanity will prevail. Not holding my breath though.

  6. Robert Hubbell apparently can’t see the obvious when he says, “The fact that the election of a constitutional officer—the Speaker of the House—is being brokered by dark money PACs is an insult to the rule of law and an open wound on democracy….”

    Really, two oligarchy-controlled (dark money) PACs do not equate to a democracy!

    Because the Democrat-controlled 1/6 Committee refused to confront the money behind the GOP – specifically the “Freedom Caucus,” the root of the dysfunction in Washington remains.

    For God’s sake, they will take turns firing the Speaker if McCarthy sells out – mainly for media attention. It’s all performative at this point.

    Governing for the American citizen is nowhere a consideration within the GOP or Washington.

  7. The fact that McCarthy has signaled willingness to allow even just one R member to quash his speakership shows clearly that all he wants is to go to his grave with a brief speakership on his resume. Because under such a scheme he would never be able to wield power or lead.

  8. Before congress tried to convene, I read an editorial about the speaker for the house. The speaker does not need to be a member of congress. The speculation was that when the constitution was written the speaker would be some unifying person that would bring multiple coalitions together for unified leadership of the legislative body for the good of the whole country. That idea died with the emergence of the two party system. They then mentioned that some high profile Republicans that might have fit this bill in the past, like Colin Powell, who could win a majority of Republicans votes, and some Democratic votes.

    I was dreaming about these unicorn farts rights up until day two, when I listened to an interview from a more senior Republican member of congress on NPR. It quickly become apparent to me that nobody calling themselves a Republican would ever consider any kind of compromise with somebody from the opposite party. At that point my view shifted and the Republicans would devolve into the chaos until they had voted on a speaker so radical that they actually got person elected, but the whole body would be completely dysfunctional. The other thing that help dispel my wishful thinking, is that Trump actually got a vote yesterday.

    James Todd has given me new hope that if this drags out long enough, that the Democrats will propose a person that they can work with, and will win a few republican votes.

    It is starting to look like that even if Republicans do elect a MAGA speaker, and we end up in crazytown, under the compromise rules, we still might get an opportunity to force a re-election and Dems can propose somebody that will win a few Republican votes.

    I wonder if there is a enough unity in the Democratic party that we will see a vote where somebody like Liz Cheney gets 200 votes FROM the Democrats!

  9. It is also interesting to note that that last time the election for speaker went for more then one vote was 100 years ago. It only went 9 votes then. Before that, and this just before the civil war in 1859, that it took two months and 133 votes to elect a speaker. Then what split the parties was the issue of slavery.

    Today the issue is who gets to tear down the government more. That still gives me hope if this drags long enough, that Democrats might find a candidate that wins a few sane Republican votes.

  10. We on this blog, one way or another, have predicted this idiocy for many months. The most telling symptom of GOP failure, decay and self-immolation is when they had Lauren Boebert actually open that sewer she calls a mouth and nominate somebody. When a “caucus” presents an utter imbecile as a speaking member, you know they’re looking up to see the bottom of their talent barrel.

    Yes, the only rational solution would be for six rational, patriotic Republicans to switch their votes to Jefferies. Okay. Okay. Pass the mushrooms. The Republicans don’t have even six such members. Not even one. Kinzinger was right about one thing: “We’re surrounded by cowards.”

  11. First, let me just say that calling for a no confidence vote and voting the Speaker out are two different things. At worst, the House would spend way too much time voting on this nonsensical BS. I’m not sure that would be worse than what the Rs have planned. The likelihood of endless investigations into any and all things Biden is the real s..t show we have to contemplate for the next two year.

    What this country really needs is some form of punishment for those who took the oath to defend and protect the Constitution, and subsequently violated some part of that Constitution. Perhaps removal from office and disbarment from holding office in the future.

  12. You know, for all the times the Republicans have pulled the football away from the hapless democrats Lucy style, it’s kind of fun to watch them finally doing it to themselves.

  13. What great entertainment for the media and us political gawkers. Unfortunately, the show just radically underlines what the general thinks about Washington: “It is all about THEM, money and power”. The ultimate result is even less trust in government and, even less voting. BTW – tracking of the ’22 election showed that Congressional incumbents (House and Senate) won their races 98% of the time – gerrymandering and partisanship work. The country and people rot…

  14. James Todd & Alphons. That idea isn’t at all crazy. It makes perfect sense. Will that doom it? Staying tuned.

  15. I tried to find the current member list for the Freedom Caucus and it DISABLED my computer; had a hell of a time getting back on line. We aren’t even safe from these people even in our homes.

    No idea how many times I have complained here and on other sources that there is no law or ordinance and no one in charge of forcing any elected political official to adhere to their Oath of Office and do their jobs. IMPEACHMENT DOESN’T WORK WITH TRUMP’S PARTY. Trump was the most dangerous and the few holding up any action by the entire House of Representatives are his supporters. THIS MINORITY IN CONTROL IS FAR MORE DANGEROUS THAN THE MINORITY IN THE SENATE LED BY McCONNELL. We can’t function with them in office and can’t shoot them…which I see is the only solution.

  16. I like Dan’s first comment. McC is nought but a waste of protoplasm.
    What we have here is “The Lord of the Flies,” in real time!

  17. The Democrats should entice six or more of the least nutty Republican to shift to being independents and elect Jeffries as Speaker. Offer to not oppose their re-election and/or vote for them in their primaries if possible. Offer them chairmanships of committees, and make the number required to vacate the Speakership at least 10.

  18. “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.” Whether or not
    this quote is properly attributable to Albert Einstein or not is immaterial; it accurately describes what we have been witnessing for the last 3 days in the House chamber.

    There is a core of freshman Republican congressmen-elect (about 10 or so) who won House seats in districts which President Biden won in 2020. It would not be so far fetched (as Tom String suggests) to envision some tiny coalition of such newly elected House members coming together as independents to elect Jeffries the House speaker and end this stalemate. One has to be thinking that this debacle is going to reach a breaking point soon. Such a Republican coalition would have a credible stance with their electorate for breaking this logjam in this way to protect the institution of the House of Representatives and democracy as well as better their chances for re-election in 2024 in districts that are not solidly Republican. What such a maneuver would require is extraordinary courage on the part of these individuals. Perhaps that is too much to expect, but it is not beyond the realm of possibility.

  19. Anyone who has worked anywhere has occasionally run into wastes of space who live by blaming others rather than solving problems. That’s what those who now call themselves conservatives and those who vote them into office do in politics. Create problems, blame them on others, tear down the ability to solve problems, profit and gain entitlement personally from from the chaos.

    It’s as far from the enlightenment that birthed our form of government as can be.

    It seems that the Democrats in the House, those who we pay to solve problems, have a two year interruption of their ability to do that being forced on them while Republicans blame Hunter Biden’s laptop and work on ways to avoid Republican accountability for high crimes and misdemeanors.

    It seems like it’s a great time to set up the 2024 election stage and work on succession planning.

    Let Republicans graduate from blaming Democrats and hobgoblins to blaming each other while feckless Kevin roasts over the coals. Let Biden, the Senate, Antony Blinken and Merrick Garland maintain our global and domestic interests, function and status and keep the accountability needle pegged.

  20. And WHEN McCarthy is handed that Speaker’s gavel, will we ever learn what he gave up to Trump’s MAGA party for those votes?

  21. JoAnn – you don’t want to know. It will be “behind the curtains” and may only come out when something awful happens…

  22. For those who fervently wish that we had more than two political parties, look at the House. Now imagine this: A party of AOC Progressives; a Party of Biden Democrats; a “third way” pro-Wall Street socially neutral party; an old school small government GOP; and the “Glorious Leader was sent by God to rule the country” party. The current mess would look like kinderspiel (child’s play).

    As for today’s GOP – I remember reading an article on the history of the early 20th century GOP. Whether it was personal, or a true fear of the crazy TR “Progressives”, Taft was faced with the choice of turning the party over to the Progressives, or keeping control and losing the election to Wilson. He chose the latter. Today’s GOP chose the former and continues to choose that.

    “Let the Chaos Caucus rule, but I’ll never vote for a ‘D’. I’d rather the country go down in flames.”

    Thank you, “sane” members of the GOP who decided to stay and hope that the GOP maintains and/or regains power.

    For all the wishful thinking of finding an “R” that would do anything with the Dems, it’s not “slim and none”, it’s “none and none”. The Republican members-elect wouldn’t dare make a deal with the devil Democrats, but with a devil fellow Republican, that’s a different matter.

    As for McCarthy, Steve nailed it. He only wants his picture as Speaker on the wall, even if his term in office is 24 hours. I heard some Republicans mention a desire for term limits. McCarthy’s may be the epitome of term limits.

  23. Why haven’t the reasonable Republicans pulled out to start their own party? It might take a while, but Red voters might find the sanity appealing.

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