Bright sunshine and coolish temperatures just past the noon hour Friday here in California’s Central Valley — weekend ahead with nothing but shit on the news cycle.
Inside this inkling of what’s ahead, the keywords are cruel chaos.
Beyond Israel and Ukraine, America also has its own shitstorm to play through presented by the Republican party in full asshole regatta as it attempts to select a House speaker, an activity they’re finding really hard to accomplish, or even getting close to accomplishing. The GOP is really fucked, and in its gory backwash, the country and the world as well. This morning a conference to try and get some asshole nominated for speaker — Gym Jordan, and including now Austin Scott of Georgia — and then a vote on the dumbshit nominee this afternoon.
However, Republicans have no confidence in each other: ‘“There’s a lack of trust. There’s a lack of transparency,” said Representative Kat Cammack. “That’s what we need to address before we can even really get to the speaker.”‘
An apt illustration of the goings-on:
they don’t allow phones in but I’ve obtained exclusive footage from this morning’s House GOP caucus meeting pic.twitter.com/pbVxy35c3y
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) October 13, 2023
Once again Amanda Marcotte at Salon this morning hits the prickly Republican nail on the head:
Calling this a “clown show” really undersells the situation, and is unfair to the skill and training of actual clowns. All of this kicked off last January, when it took the smaller-than-expected Republican majority 15 ballots to elect Rep. Kevin McCarthy of California who had spent his entire career in politics aiming for that moment. It didn’t go well: McCarthy’s stint with the gavel lasted less than nine months, the shortest tenure for any speaker since Michael Kerr died in office in 1876. He was ousted, of course, by Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida and seven other renegade Republicans, motivated more by a desire for airtime on Fox News than any coherent grievance against McCarthy.
So it’s not a huge surprise that the House GOP’s efforts to elect another speaker are going poorly, even though there are officially only two candidates: Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana and Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio. It was announced Wednesday that Scalise, previously McCarthy’s No. 2 in House leadership, had won a secret ballot vote at the GOP caucus meeting. But the prospect that Scalise could actually win a floor vote for the speakership fell apart quickly, after some of the most camera-hungry members of the GOP have refused to go along with the party’s vote. By Thursday, Scalise had enough and dropped out of the race.
Adding to the tumult is the behavior of the alleged adults involved. Rep. George Santos, R-N.Y., is trying to leverage his vote for a promise that he won’t be expelled, despite his 23 felony indictments for various kinds of fraud. (His fellow New York Republicans have finally had enough and want him gone.) Then there’s Rep. Nancy Mace, R-S.C., who paraded around on Wednesday wearing a scarlet “A” on her shirt to make … some kind of point about how she’s the real victim in all this. (Her real point, clearly is, “Look at me” — and she definitely hasn’t read “The Scarlet Letter.”)
The reasons for this are multi-layered. The top layer is about personality. To put it bluntly, authoritarian movements valorize assholes, mistaking cruelty for strength and showboating for passion. Republicans have created and embraced a system in which being as toxic and mean-spirited as possible is the fastest route to political power. It shouldn’t be surprising that when you throw a bunch of nasty people together, they start taking out their aggression on each other.
But the issue runs even deeper than “these people are the worst.” These incomprehensible power struggles are a direct outgrowth of the internal logic — if you can call it that — of authoritarianism. At the risk of oversimplifying things slightly, authoritarianism is at heart a movement that rejects and despises the ideals of rationality and democratic power-sharing. Its adherents embrace an absolutist view of power, one where “truth” is handed down on high from authority, power is its own justification and any form of reasoned debate is a sign of weakness.
That’s why the shelf life of Republican House speakers has gotten shorter as the party has moved further toward the radical right. Consider Newt Gingrich, John Boehner, Paul Ryan and now Kevin McCarthy: All were ousted in some form of intra-party warfare, often by people who probably couldn’t have told you what the actual disagreement was about, in substantive political terms. (The other Republican speaker of those years was Dennis Hastert, who held the job for eight years — and later went to prison on federal charges relating to the sexual abuse of underage boys.) The GOP is an authoritarian party that discourages real debate and fetishizes domination. One way for pack animals to prove their power is to take out the top dog. Whoever finally gets the speaker’s gavel next will no doubt feel powerful in that moment — but he should also know that he just stuck a bullseye on his back.
And this quiet, backbencher Austin Scott spites him some fellow Reppubs as well as Dems:
So now the matchup is Austin Scott v Jim Jordan. pic.twitter.com/CVbdfY4t7m
— Ron Filipkowski (@RonFilipkowski) October 13, 2023
Expect no real governing or anything.
Toxic, or not, yet once again here we are…
(Image out front: ‘Art Critic’ by Norman Rockwell, found here.)