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?