Are Spurned Speakers Now Able to Turn the Tables?


            Pearl River      I’ll admit it.  I find the Republican anarchy in the House fascinating, not because I’m a chaos monkey, but because their antics now are case stories in political maneuvering and backroom knife fights.  Some of this wildness speaks to classic, almost universal organizing truths.  In short, what follows is my highly speculative guess at what is really the drama and wheeling-and-dealing.  I’m betting this will not be over that soon, and that there are more surprises in store.  I could be dead-ass wrong, but I’m still ready to offer a shot at what is the likely scenario currently at play.

In organizing campaigns, as well as many other pursuits, it’s always easier to attack and demand, than it is to protect and defend.  I could give hundreds of examples, but this is almost a basic law in organizing, so without burdening more than is necessary, don’t trust me on this, but at least keep it in mind.

The tables have now turned.  We now have one deposed Speaker, McCarthy, one almost Speaker, Scalise, and another wannabe Speaker, Jordan.  The somewhat misogynist line that “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned,” applies to this situation, so substitute woman for man.  I would argue both of them are obstacles facing Jordan and the hardcore, rightwing Republicans in the caucus.  Eight right radicals were able to bring down McCarthy.  Although Scalise narrowly beat Jordan to be the caucus nominee for Speaker, Jordan’s limp support for him and the fact that many of his followers refused to side with the majority, torpedoed his bid.  McCarthy has floated the idea that he would take a draft in a stalemate.  The no-name candidate that Jordan bested for his try at this gold ring is a McCarthy ally.

The scene is set.  The question is clear:  why would McCarthy or Scalise help Jordan win their prize?  The second question is also clear, because this is about politics, not principles really:  what price would Jordan have to offer to win their support and their followers?  The third question becomes, if he offered a deal, would the radicals stay with him any more than they did with McCarthy or Scalise?  Also remember, this is a “game of thrones” for a crown that may not last long on the winner or be worth it.

My bet is that McCarthy is the key player here, and even though Jordan had cozied up to him in recent years, he has absolutely no incentive to reward the radicals or Jordan’s obsequious caterwauling to them.  Tell me he can’t hold out not just eight, but twenty, thirty or more.  That gives him more than leverage, that now makes him kingmaker, if not king.  If Scalise also has a dozen or more adherents, this is a non-starter for Jordan, making the coming days mainly about finding a compromise candidate that McCarthy and Scalise believe doesn’t have blood on the hands.  All of which, they would hope, eventually forces the radicals to get in line and produces a majority in their caucus that takes away the simple one-over-half vote that booted McCarthy to the curb.

As I say, I could be totally wrong, so don’t put money on this, but if this or some version emerges in the coming days, then remember, “I told you so!”