Dateline: Saturday morning.
In my mind the biggest political story of the week just passed (and possibly the next) is the vacancy of the Speakership of the House of Representatives. My challenge is how do you write an intelligent opinion piece about a topic where there are so many variables and unknowns that you don’t have a conclusion. My “solution” is to present a plethora of observations and possible outcomes.
In order to be elected Speaker a candidate must win a majority of the House members voting. That is carefully worded because the actual number voting may well come into play changing the “magic number”. Particularly if this goes past two ballots, (which is very much a question mark at this writing), the numbers game could be determinative.
Up to this point Donald Trump has been calling the shots with the House GOP. Some are his sycophants, and the rest who are just afraid of him, simply obey. Trump has endorsed Jim Jordan of Ohio. I could write volumes as to Jordan’s faults but today I’ll just simply remind my readers that he appears to have been complicit in January 6th.
One of the first things I’ll be watching for is to see if any Republicans are willing to defy Trump. If everyone votes, it only takes 5 Republicans to defect and Jordan simply won’t have the votes. It is an unknown, but I am assuming Democratic Leader, Hakeem Jeffries, can (as he has to this point) keep all his Democrats solid.
I see the possibility that Democrats might join a group of Republicans in an effort to elect a “compromise” Speaker but that person will certainly not be named Jim Jordan. One of the things that killed Kevin McCarthy is that nobody trusted him, including most Republicans. The word most often used to describe McCarthy is, “Liar”. Think about just how bad that is when fellow politicians call you a liar.
Democrats will also want to extract some concessions – like not shutting the government down – from any compromise candidate. Otherwise, they will simply keep voting for Jeffries and let the Republicans make fools of themselves live on national TV. I can see the Democratic compromise take the form of not voting and thereby lowering the “magic number” as opposed to actually voting for a Republican for Speaker. Politics at play; a vote for a Republican Speaker, especially if they turn out to be bad, would be difficult to defend on the campaign trail.
A new Republican Speaker, assuming it is not a Trump hardliner, will need continuing Democratic support to stay in office. Remember that the primary reason McCarthy was fired is that he made a deal with the Democrats to prevent an unnecessary government shutdown. That was an unforgivable sin in the eyes of the MAGA crowd and Trump.
This will be a real test of the strength of the Trump factor in the GOP House caucus. If Jordan is not elected on the first ballot, and worse yet if he is not elected at all, it will be another (and perhaps fatal blow) to the “power” of the Trump endorsement.
The Trump factor cannot be dismissed when viewing this entire situation. Remember Trump is interested in chaos which he thinks will made President Biden and the Democrats look bad as well as delay, if not kill, his federal prosecutions. Trump has never cared about governing nor the welfare of the American people.
We will find the answer to a lot of questions this coming week; principle among them is if there are enough Republicans in the House to save the Republican party. Remember, despite right wing mythology it is not the job of the House Democrats to save the GOP from its worse elements.
Here is my final word on the matter: If this goes beyond two ballots all bets are off and it will get really interesting!
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