Today, you’ll witness a spectacle in Washington that once upon a time would have been the usual transition of power between two essentially normal political parties doing everyday political party things. The winning side would declare a mandate for a suite of policies and programs. The losing side would grumble and promise to return to power. The Constitutional operating system would ensure no one won everything they wanted, and we’d drive on as a big, messy republic.
The House Majority would elect a new Speaker with little fuss and almost no notoriety. We didn’t know it then, but the peaceful and crisp transitions of power we once found almost boring were a political luxury good in a mature republic. Those days are over.
Today’s disaster and the coming chaos exemplify the contemporary MAGA Republican party's most corrosive and crapulous aspects.
The Terrorists Have Taken The Plane
Kevin McCarthy is a bro. A back-slapping frat-rat guy with a ready smile and a superlobbyist named Jeff Miller on his wing at all times. They’re smooth, comfortable, and gracious in boardrooms, on the golf course, and on the endless round of donor calls that fuel the Republican machine. Corporate America loves Kevin and Jeff, regardless of how woke those companies may appear. They hire Jeff’s lobbying firm and fund Kevin’s campaigns. Just like old times, right?
The reality of the Republican caucus is radically different from that comfy K-Street illusion McCarthy sells to both major donors and the DC political press.
Generational GOP successes at redistricting America into redder and redder seats underpins this crisis, combined with the alt-universe social and political media infrastructure on the right. The negative incentive structure of today’s GOP means the crazier you are in a GOP district, the more electable to the House you become.
The GOP caucus is full to the gunwales with MAGA political terrorists, replete with trolling skills but with no real governing agenda or philosophy beyond owning the libs and their next Fox News hit. Their destructive nihilism will shock America, even though they’ve told us every aspect of their playbook for 2023 and 2024.
Kevin can barely scrape up a winning majority for the title of Speaker; the loudmouths, loonbuckets, and bomb-vest types are most certainly not going to let him govern. The list of things Kevin bargained away to win is much longer than the list of things the MAGAs will let him accomplish as Speaker.
The nihilist MAGA majority in the House will crash the economy by refusing to let McCarthy pass a debt ceiling increase and will most certainly shut down any cooperation with the Senate.
He’ll Always Have a Gun To His Head
McCarthy is a particular flavor of political masochist. The endless series of mistakes he’s made in pursuit of the title of Speaker led to the adulteration of the powers of the Speakership, if he lands it. He agreed to an absurd no-confidence agreement with the MAGA terrorists, bought into their plan for endless, vengeful stunt hearings, and elevated the worst of the worst (looking at you, Marge) to positions of power.
His self-inflicted political castration means he holds no cards. He can neither incentivize nor threaten any wayward member credibly. He is forced to accept even a fabulist con artist like George Santos (if that’s his real name) as a peer.
The other threat to his Speakership is more subtle, dangerous, and focused. Elise Stefanik (R-Megalomania) is eagerly scheming to take his job and has been for over a year. Her credibility may be shot with elites, but is rocketing skyward in the Bedlam of today’s House GOP. Steve Scalise, more in sorrow than anger, would also happily shank McCarthy in the front if the moment came.
Spectacle Is All They Have
What’s coming? Two years of tiresome 2024 battlespace preparation, MAGA agitprop mythmaking, and the return of the Jim Jordan Inquisition. Get ready for Republican revanchism very thinly disguised as legislative oversight.
Hearings on Antifa, Big Tech, Anthony Fauci, the FBI, and of course the border, the border, the border, and the border will feed the Trump/MAGA agenda for 2024 with loud, crude japery meant only as boob-bait for the Fox and Facebook audience.
And, of course, the centerpiece of their show: obsessive Hunter Biden hearings, based on the notorious fantasy that his laptop is full of devastating secrets, when in fact, it’s a chronicle of a man struggling with his demons, chemical and personal.
They’ll also throw in a few impeachments just for fun.
I’ve said it before; spectacle matters, and by and large, Democrats suck at producing it. The January 6th hearings were an outlier, but Republicans know how to start a self-sustaining cycle of political media fuckery like no others.
McCarthy’s humiliation and shame have only just begun. His moment in history, long sought and long fought, will always come with an asterisk, a footnote, and an eye roll. He may be the Speaker, but the lunatics are most certainly in charge of the asylum, and their greatest pleasure beyond owning the proverbial libs in the coming two years will be owning Kevin.