Coming Attractions at the House Circus

Some House Republicans appear to be making a semi-serious effort to make Trump the next Speaker. This is mostly about burnishing MAGA bona fides, I’m sure. Observers point out that (a) between Trump’s many trials and his campaign, he’d never have time for the job, which he wouldn’t know how to do anyway; and (b) there’s a GOP conference rule that says any leadership member indicted for a felony that carries a sentence of at least two years “shall step aside.” And nobody knows if Trump would accept the position, anyway. If he did, though, President Biden and Vice President Harris would need double security. The Speaker is next in line, you know.

Plus there is always the possibility that if a Trump speakership came up to a vote, Trump would lose. There must be a few Republicans in swing seats whose re-election chances require not being tied to Trump.

The eight Republicans who voted with the Democrats to oust McCarthy are pretty much all hard-right wackadoos from safe districts, I understand.

I have learned that everybody hates Matt Gaetz. There are headlines declaring such. And yesterday so many Republicans were fed up with Gaetz and his grandstanding they wouldn’t let him use the microphones on the Republican side of the room. Newt Gingrich, of all people, is calling for Gaetz to be expelled. Gingrich is from a time when the power of movement conservatism came from all Republicans dutifully marching in lockstep reciting the party’s approved talking points. Those days are mostly gone, although not quite gone enough for my taste.

Josh Marshall writes that Republicans in Congress are livid with Democrats for ousting McCarthy. So sure McCarthy went back on his word who knows how many times, allowed a bogus impeachment inquiry to go forward against President Biden, and lied in a Face the Nation interview that it was Democrats who were trying to shut down the government. The Dems shoulda helped out and voted to keep McCarthy so Republicans wouldn’t look bad, or something. Right. “McCarthy sought Democratic votes to save him from his own refractory members, and in return he offered nothing. Not even politeness,” David Frum writes at The Atlantic. Frum continued,

The only way to produce a stable majority in the House is for the next Republican leader to reach a working agreement with the Democrats to bypass the nihilists in the GOP caucus. But that agreement will have to be unspoken and even denied—because making agreements that show any respect for the other side will be seen by Republican partisans as betrayal. The price of GOP leadership is delivering delusions and fantasies: the delusion and fantasy that Trump won in 2020, the delusion and fantasy that the Republicans did not lose in 2022.

The bottom line is that neither party has a working majority. The Republicans could have such a majority with effective leadership and responsible members. Ain’t gonna happen.

Republicans are so angry about McCarthy that the little neofascist pissant acting as temp speaker, Patrick McHenry, ordered Speaker Emeritus Nancy Pelosi to give up her current hideaway office by today. Even though she’s been in San Francisco attending Dianne Feinstein’s funeral and didn’t have anything to do with yesterday’s vote.

Whoever they end up with won’t be an improvement, of course. Right now I understand the most serious contenders are Gym Jordan and Steve Scalise. Barf.

The best analysis I’ve seen about yesterday’s fiasco is by David Kurtz at TPM. Recommended.

In other news: I doubt you will be surprised to learn that Trump is fundraising off his gag order.

22 thoughts on “Coming Attractions at the House Circus

  1. McCarthy went back on his word who knows how many times, allowed a bogus impeachment inquiry to go forward against President Biden, and lied in a Face the Nation interview that it was Democrats who were trying to shut down the government. The Dems shoulda helped out and voted to keep McCarthy so Republicans wouldn’t look bad, or something. Right.

    The Dems should’ve thought farther ahead than the mere slights and lies coming from McCarthy. He helped broker the CR that kept the lights on, with most of the items Democrats wanted intact. Not once, but months earlier as well, to the consternation of the MAGAts. Do you think the Dems / the country will fare as well in 45 days?

    Had the Dems voted to save McCarthy, the extremists would’ve suffered a defeat. Their power would’ve been diminished. They are small in number but have power to stop everything, which is their goal. Now they’re emboldened: who will dare cross Matt Gaetz, after what he did to McCarthy?

    Gaetz and the MAGAts are a cancer that could’ve been routed early had the Democrats only swallowed hard and backed Kevin McCarthy, regardless of his duplicity. So now we’re staring at the abyss. Does anyone believe someone better will step forward?

    • "Gaetz and the MAGAts are a cancer"

      Yes and the patient (the GQP) aint worth saving. McCarthy is an extremist. I asked this yesterday how many dems should have voted for McCarthy, all of them, just enough, who exactly. You really think the democrats should have saved the guy who opened a bogus impeachment against President Biden, really? I believe it was Chris Christy who said "politics aint bean bag". The GQP got what they deserved. If they continue to burn down the house they will pay in 2024.

      • McCarthy isn't in the same league of extreme as Gaetz. He was willing to pass to pass the CR, twice, with most of the goodies the Dems wanted.

        McCarthy is just a spineless politician, blowing whichever way the wind blows. The only thing that magnetizes him is power.

        The bogus impeachment speaks for itself – it doesn't help Biden but it certain doesn't help the Republicans.

        I'm far more concerned about the damage to this country in 2023, and it's foolish to pin our hopes on 2024.  This country could be so far down the tubes by then, with MAGA stronger than ever. And it will be strong than ever because of the failure to keep Kevin around.

        • "I'm far more concerned about the damage to this country in 2023, and it's foolish to pin our hopes on 2024"

          I don't know, the GQP is going to attempt to damage this country no matter who is speaker, they have been since they won the house, taking back the house, holding the senate and re-election Biden in 2024 is our only way out. The problem with McCarthy is he is as he called Hillary "untrustable", he has absolutely no integrity, did you hear what he said on J6 and then within days was kissing Stumps ass. He said he wouldn’t open impeachment without a floor vote only to form an inquiry on his own less tha a month later. The fucking guy went on tee-vee less than 24 hours after the democras saved his ass on the shutdown and blamed them for the whole mess? Just because the democras prevented him from shutting down the government is no real reason to help him out, even the GQP knows a shut down will be a disaster for them (despite the tabloid media polls that say otherwise). I don't see how we could do any worse. If they put someone in who shuts down government then they will pay in 2024, at some point the propaganda will not hold. One thing that is an issue is the media and some liberals casting blame on the democrats for the dysfunction in the house. Don't take the bait, this is on the GQP, Stump and the magats. We couldn’t have saved Kevin even if we wanted to, any support from the democrats would have been spun as an endorsement of McCarthy and the GQP , then we would have a real issue opposing anything they dream up.

  2. Trump is their avatar and they are not capable of anything without him.

    I read the donors are now throwing money at the governor of virginia.

    They are desparate for leadership and have none. It appears Trump is losing his business, maybe the most damaging blow of all. Now his business is chaos and collecting money from MAGAs to keep himself afloat.

    Washington is high school and we are drowning in the hinterlands from christian nationalism.


  3. The RepubliKKKLAN Party's default excuse for any and every one of their failures:  "The Democrats are really the ones to blame!"

    The Dems wouldn't save Kev's bacon because he has lied every time he's said he'd do X.  Or Y.  Or Z.  Or star back at "A" and work forwards.

    Just last week, the Dems saved Kev's bacon on the CR, to help it pass. 

    But on the Sunday shows, Kev blamed the Dems for the near government shut-down.  CBS's Sunday host, Margaret Brennan, actually laughed in his face when he said it!

    McCarthy also never approached the Dems for help. But even if he had, I'm not sure they'd have helped.

    Why help him?

    He's lied about everything else.  Why wouldn't he lie about asking for help, or the terms negotiated for that help?

    So, no.  It's not the Dems fault he lost his Speakership.

    If he'd been a tad more honest – or at the very least not tried to blame them for the near shut-down of our government on the Sunday shows, knowing he might need their help in a day or two – he might still be the Speaker.

    As for the next Speaker being worse, that pretty much should go without saying.

    But how much worse could s/he be?

    Kev had already allowed his rabid lunatics to bring an "impeachment inquiry" about President Biden.

    And that, too, was only a few days or a week after saying he wouldn't allow impeachment hearings without House support.

    There is no doubt the next GQP Speaker will be bad.  Terrible, even.

    But here's the thing:  McCarthy is a likeable guy.  A lying,  spineless, likeable guy.  But a likeable guy nonetheless.

    Gym Jordan, who's thrown his shirt sleeves in the ring for the Speakership, is not a likeable guy.

    Neither is Steve "David Duke Without the Baggage" Scalise.

    Imo:  Having a non-likeable new Speaker, running a House chock full of RepubliKKKLAN nuts, might make it easier for Independents to pull the "D" lever in 2024.

    So, in short, good riddance, Kev!




  4. I don't claim to be able to read minds but did McCarthy strip aid to Ukraine out of the CR in the hope that enough democrats would vote AGAINST the CR that McCarthy could blame the shutdown on the Democrats? I'm finding it hard to understand that feature of the temporary delay to the government shutdown. And the bomb-throwers do want a shutdown.

    OK. After averting a government shutdown, 200+ Republicans in the House wanted to retain McCarthy. On the vote for the CR, 126 Republicans joined 209 Democrats to pass the CR. So more than half the Republicans in the House do NOT think negotiation by government shutdown is a good tactic. Gym Jordan would shut down the government and refuse to let the House vote on a budget to open the government for as long as possible. (My opinion.) Whether or not Scalise has a grip on reality, I'm not sure. The clue will be the way the hateful eight vote. If they like Scalise, they think they own Scalise. 

    If Democrats in the House nominate a moderate Republican, they only need to peel a half-dozen Republicans from the 126 who voted to keep the government open on Sept. 30. The bat-shit-crazy Freedom Caucus is sidelined and the Speaker will know that the only possible way to pass legislation that addresses some of the conservative issues is to include stuff that can appeal to some Democrats. (That's how the legislative process was designed.) I'm still hoping that the Democratic leadership in the House will take the gamble and castrate the wack-a-doodles and empower the members of the House who are there to practice good government. 

    In football terms, I'm proposing the equivalent of an onside kick. You don't go there except when conditions are so dire that you can bet the game on a lucky bounce.

  5. I suspect the first order of business under the leadership of the speaker pro tempore will be to discard McCarthy's rule that a single member can bring a motion to vacate the chair. Talk about a Sword of Damocles. Nobody is going to want to step into the speakership with a hair trigger mechanism designed to oust them. Especially with a faction of hardcore MAGA zealots bent on tearing the house down. The newfound speaker could be in a position to have to rely on democrats to save their speakership. 

  6. George Schultz once said "Trust is the coin of the realm".  About everyone has said "Politics makes strange bedfellows".  Yes folks, the Democrats went to bed with the nihilists.  They could have gone to bed with McCarthy, but he was bankrupt.  You could at least trust the nihilists to value nothing.  Nihilism is like minimalism on steroids.  I would guess nihilists pay money to go to galleries to stare at blank walls.  To quote Kimberly Wilkins aka Sweet Brown "Ain't nobody got time for that".

  7. IMO, Congressional Democrats were right to let McCarthy go down.  The GOP is the real danger to our country, and to Civilization in general. 

    The GOP is largely funded by the Fossil Fuel Zillionaires who spend $Millions on Climate Denial propaganda to avoid any risk to their $Billion profits.  This has doomed humanity to fighting over a shrinking pie for at least the rest of this century.

    The GOP is primarily responsible for preventing any move toward National Health Care (since Truman!).

    The GOP is primarily responsible for Tax Cuts for the Rich, Citizens United, and other political changes which have weakened the US Middle Class since Reagan.

    The GOP is largely responsible for installing the NeoCons into positions of power, and turning the USA into military Empire, no longer really a Republic.

    The GOP (and associated Institutes) are entirely responsible – via decades of vicious Culture War propaganda – for creating the Mob that now follows Trump.

    Why should Democrats do *anything* to save the GOP from the monster they created?

    Trump – and his Magats – are grotesque, ignorant loudmouths, incapable of creating or executing any long-term plans for *anything*.  The ugly circus in the House shows exactly what I mean: they can break things, but they have no core political framework and therefore no consistent policy agenda.  They are instantly distracted by whatever shiny bauble Trump poops out for them.

    Sure, they are annoying, and yes, they are potentially dangerous, but not while led by Trump (a disorganized narcissist concerned only with his own immediate gratification).  The real danger now is the possibility that the GOP will find a candidate who can take over that Mob when Trump is gone.  (Though it won't be easy for them to find – or train – someone crazy enough to do that, but still sane and malleable enough for them to trust).

    Please don't fall into the trap of supporting the GOP, just because they aren't as ugly as the Magat Mob they created. 

    Let the Golem devour its creator.

  8. Some more good news…. Judge Engoron ordered that Trump and any of the other criminals named in the civil fraud trial can't transfer or move any assests without notifying the court. It's the old cut 'em off at the pass maneuver. I don't know what they have managed to shield from liability already, but it does put a crimp in the criminal activity of the ones who weren't quick enough to anticipate their upcoming convictions.

  9. OT: Rudy's lawyers are asking to withdraw from the criminal GA trial because of unpaid bills. Likewise, lawyers for the pillow guy. I think both of these guys are gonna get wiped out and declare bankruptcy. While Trump claims he's sooooo rich. I'll contribute to the tattoo fund to ID both of these guys' foreheads with the word, "SUCKER."

    If they bo to prison, some inmates may misunderstand the meaning. Oh, well!

      • Rudy is fuckin' pickled. He needs to find a higher power,at least one that can get him to the step where he can take a fearless moral inventory. He's achieved wet brain status.

        I got a strong feeling that the time for tossing his coconspirators is fast approaching. He's claimed to have some sort of an insurance policy for all his neferious deeds relating to Trump's attempt to steal the 2020 election. I think the time is now for him to file that claim.

  10. Still doing OT news: Trump dismissed his suit against Michael Cohen today after delaying his deposition three times. Trump did not dare face Cohen's lawyers in a situation where he'd have to give sworn testimony (perjury). But he couldn't get the case in front of a judge without answering to Cohen's lawyers about the specifics of the complaint. (So you instructed Michael Cohen to pay off people to silence porn stars who alleged to have had sexual relations with you while you were married?) 

    I predict that Cohen's lawyers will file for Trump to pay Cohen's legal bills related to preparing for the case, and it won't be cheap. Trump paid for the suit he filed against HRC to the tune of almost a million. This is a hell of a strategy. 

    Also: Trump has endorsed Gym Jordan for speaker. This will be interesting. Some Republicans in the House who don't want to be associated with Trump couldn't have voted against Trump. (My opinion.) But the obligation to follow the people Trump endorses is not as binding. (Still opinion.) Jordan will take the GOP to an extended government shutdown and a fact-free impeachment of President Biden, both of which will be disastrous for the GOP in 2024. Scalise might not be much better. Will the Democrats pull a rabbit out of their hat next week and propose a non-Trumpist Republican for Speaker of the House?

    • Hi Doug,

      I'm not a political operative, but I suspect that for Dems to nominate a moderate Rep for speaker would be a high-stakes gamble. It would likely be a swing-district R rep, but as soon as Dems nominate that person, the cult will threaten to primary that person. Even if that moderate R became speaker, it could decrease Dem chances for retaking the house majority in 2024 (for multiple reasons around election dynamics).

      If that's true, would a moderate R speaker for the next 15 months be worth the trade-off? I dunno… maybe.  I also don't know how much power a rep with the title "Speaker of the House" has over a majority caucus that contains a renegade sub-faction. I doubt it is solely a matter of the character of the person with the gavel. To some extent (maybe close to 100%) it may be that the Speaker's power is dependent upon support from the individuals in the house.

      There are currently 9 more Republicans than democrats. Any moderate R that "switches sides" gives the plutocrat/soviet faction a slightly greater minority percentage of the R caucus.

      I'm afraid that the core problem is that the Rep party is anti-government. That means that shutting down the government and defunding everything is actually mission accomplished for them. ("I don't need the stupid government telling me what I can or can't do!")

      The only reasonable solution to the current mess would be some kind of "power-sharing" agreement, which some pundits are saying is possible because it has happened at the state level. I don't know if it's doable under the current condition of the two party system at the national level.

      I see the two-party system as the root cause here. We have a large country with a infinite number of differing political interests, but everybody has to pick one of the two parties or be doomed to irrelevance. So moderate R's are stuck with the plutocrat/soviet faction because they can't buy in to the entire Dem program. And vice versa.  We need ranked choice voting at all levels and congressional rules that are not driven by the assumption that there are only two viable parties.  And we need political parties that can accept that they will have varying levels of power and influence based on their policy responses to current conditions rather than taking the easy way out and counting on party "branding" and lifelong party loyalty.    

  11. Liz Cheney gave a thumbs down to Jim Jordon, indicating he was one of the closest to the 1/6 plan.  It is not surprising that Jordon is Trump's pick, these two birds seem to have been flocking together for quite some time.  I would give Liz the veto power on this one.  

    • At this point, we simply need Republican partners willing to break with MAGA extremism, reform the highly partisan House rules that were adopted at the beginning of this Congress and join us in finding common ground for the people.

      I wouldn't describe it as 'simply'. It goes more to the age old philosophical and theological question asked in the scriptures. Can corruption put on incorruption? Where do they draw the line on MAGA extremism? Hakeem Jeffries pointed out that over 95% of the repugs in the house have stated that Trump had the election stolen from him. Whether they are sincere in their belief or just following the party line it all qualifies in my mind as MAGA extremism. I don't claim to have any answer, but it seems like a reasonable assumption to believe that until Trump is completely destroyed and exposed for the self serving fraud that he is, the MAGA movement will continue to hold sway over the repugs in the house. Trump provides a cover for the repuglican antics.

      moonbat, I remember years ago when you made a comment about Mao's cultural revolution where all the fanatical believers were running around waving their little red books of Mao's thoughts and doing everything in their power to destroy intellectualism. We are basically in the same position with the Trump supporters except our fanatics are wearing red MAGA hats and other ridiculous MAGA couture. There are many external differences between our fanatics and Mao's, but at the core they're two peas in a pod.

  12. I agree that there are plenty of Rs in the House who really don't want to have to vote for Trump to be their speaker.  However, there are alternatives these Rs would find even worse, and I think that there is a reasonable probability that the speakership contest will develop from here in a way that presents these Rs with worse alternatives.

    My theory here starts from the conjecture that there are at least 5 House Rs who actually want the govt to shut down and to deny Ukraine funding.  Back in January, some combination of the hope that they had gotten McCarthy to promise to shut down the govt, and the fact that the annual appropriations bills wouldn't come due for another 8 months, led them to relent and allow McCarthy to become speaker.  Eight months was just too long for them to keep the House from being organized.

    Well, now the deadline for funding the govt is in 5 weeks.  Five weeks is doable.  They can, and I conjecture will, happily keep the speaker's chair empty for 5 weeks. They will relent and allow a speaker to be elected only if that speaker is Gaetz.  They might have accepted any of their number, the members who want to defund the govt, but now that Gaetz has taken the lead in humiliating the "moderates" and showing them their proper place as subservient to the 5, they are going to go with Speaker Gaetz as their demand.  Only getting the majority to vote for him would prove sufficiently that their will is broken.

    Speaker Trump looks a lot more attractive to the majority than Speaker Gaetz.  Trump is about the only candidate that the 5 would have trouble voting against. Trump will still be just as dicey a choice for many moderates as they try to win the next election, but if he is the only way forward, voting for him will look a lot less dicey than permanent govt shutdown.  (I think that you somewhat exaggerate how toxic Trump is for their chances at keeping their seats.  Will any of these Rs state publicly that they plan to vote against him for the presidency? Voting for him to be speaker is somehow more toxic than voting to make him president?).  

    Yes, it is true that no way is Trump going to do the work of actually being speaker, and managing the flow of legislation in the House.  That's a feature to these people, not a bug.  They all imagine that they will be the ones to get his ear, that Trump will rely on them to be his "detail man", the person or person who actually runs the House.  In particular, the moderates will convince themselves that they will be able to at least eventually bring Speaker Trump around on reopening the govt, and maybe even Ukraine funding.  Hardly assured on either count, but the odds are way better than with Speaker Gaetz.

    Of course, none of this will happen until and unless we go a few dozen ballots for speaker with no success.  Well, that's pretty much my premise, that at least 5 of them don't want a speaker, unless that speaker is one of their own, a person who will defund the govt.  The other element of my premise is that there are at least 5 of them who desperately want to fund the govt.  The theory is that these two 5s will keep the R caucus from electing a speaker indefinitely.  At some point the Rs go with their only possible unity candidate, Trump, or the their moderate 5 crosses the aisle to form a coalition with the Ds to organize the House. 

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