Timeline: Early Saturday morning
The House Republicans appear to be intent on proving they couldn’t run a two-vehicle parade and they are doing a great job of it to date!
As of this writing more than ten days ago the House Republicans ousted their Speaker of the House, Kevin McCarthy of California. The next week – hey, why work a weekend – they held a caucus secret ballot and designated Steve Scalise of Louisiana as their nominee. In the secret ballot he beat out Trump endorsed Jim Jordan of Ohio 113-99 on Wednesday. By Thursday evening Scalise dropped out of the race when it was obvious that he was well short of securing the 217 votes he needed when his nomination came to the full House. So much for the Hastert Rule the radicals (they are the true RINOs!) love to talk about, and ousted McCarthy over violating, that basically states that nothing goes to the floor when the Republicans control the House that isn’t previously approved by the majority of the majority and then they will stick together. The Trump influence (and make no mistake, it is huge in this mess!) shows – if you don’t like the results of a democratic election just ignore them.
When Scalise dropped out the Republicans, in the finest of Trump desires, did a rerun. Jordan narrowly won the second secret ballot 124-81 over a basically unknown backbencher Austin Scott of Georgia. (I’m a political junkie and I still couldn’t pick Austin out of a lineup.) Afterwards a straw ballot was run as to commitment to voting for Jordan; 55 members voted “No” and one voted “Present”. Obviously because Jordan lacked the votes the Republicans decided to adjourn for the weekend rather than hold a vote. A war in Ukraine, a government nearing a shutdown and a war in Israel; what’s the hurry?
Scalise was not a McCarthy guy. He was more of an attempt at party unification. Something like JFK picking LBJ as his running mate in 1960; except that worked. They didn’t even like each other. That statement holds true for both parings.
I don’t see Jordan getting the required number of votes. None will come from the Democrats and at least 18 Republicans would all but be committing political suicide if they voted for him considering they are running for reelection in 2024 in “Biden districts”. That doesn’t take into consideration any other Republican who might go “off the reservation” for some whacky reason(s).
There still is the afraid to defy Trump factor among the House Republicans. Remember Liz Cheney initially kept her leadership post in a secret ballot but lost it in a public one. The main reason was the lack of courage to defy Trump among her fellow Republicans. Will enough Republicans choose self-preservation and democracy over Trump? My guess – and only because of the self-preservation factor – is yes. I don’t know how this will end but I don’t think it will end with Speaker Jim Jordan. I certainly hope I am correct!
Jordan openly defied a House subpoena and now wants to lead that chamber. Based on publically available information he appears to be up to his neck (well, it’s not really that far off the ground) in January 6th. Can the House function with a speaker who is or has been indicted, incarcerated and/or convicted? If Jordan is elected speaker, will he still continue to chair his whitewash Trump and pursue long debunked conspiracy theories committee?
A move from McCarthy to Scalise (self-described as David Duke without the baggage and a friend of the old Tea Party) would have been a shift to the right. Moving to Jordan would be a seismic shift in the same direction.
To date at least, it appears the Republicans have learned their lesson from the 15 round fiasco that culminated in McCarthy being elected speaker. The optics are a bit better but the result is all the Republicans have ever been able to produce: chaos. Better on optics; worse on policy. In any case the process will most likely be more interesting than the results.
As a final thought remember that McCarthy was always just a temporary occupant of the Speaker’s office as I predict his successor will be anyway. What a mess!
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