Marble Falls You could see this coming from miles away, as I had predicted in several irresistible “I told you so” moments as hardline, right wing conservative Ohio Republican Jim Jordan’s campaign for Speaker of the US House of Representatives crashed and then burned. In the end, it wasn’t even close, but was so ignominious, that anyone else made of flesh and bone, rather than raw ego and righteous ambition, would realize that their political career was totally toast.
Losing the first vote, the writing was on the wall clearly enough that all of us could see it. The gang that came together to oust Speaker McCarthy did so with only eight votes. Louisiana Congressman Scalise won the Republican caucus vote over Jordan to contend for the Speaker’s job, but after long stints as the Republican’s whip and a short term as majority leader, he knew how to count the votes, couldn’t break Jordan’s block, and withdrew from the race, hoping to continue being majority leader. Jordan, the election denier, the disrupter, bring shut the place downer, then took his turn losing on the first vote by not eight, but twenty. On the second vote, he lost by twenty-two, underlining falling support. Then in a bizarre set of moves, which should have proven to anyone standing on two-legs that he wasn’t qualified to even lead an elementary school fire drill, he first said he was open to there being an interim speaker for several months to get business done, and presumably to give him a chance to win votes, then after some whining from his firebreathers, whipsawed around and scheduled a third vote. At this point, there wasn’t blood in the water, it was gushing, and he lost by twenty-five votes. Not able to count, he still didn’t quit, until a secret ballot vote gutted him at 112-86, revealing the real level of his core support and the full extent of his hubris. Finally, conceding, he reportedly got a standing ovation from the caucus who were probably thanking God and Greyhound that he was gone. That’s a beatdown, sports fans.
Admittedly, much of this was his own doing. First because he couldn’t escape his past antics, the bruises he had left on other members in many scuffles, and his continued evasive refusal to admit Trump’s election defeat. Secondly, he couldn’t run from his inability to control the tactics of this radical right followers and their attacks on holdouts, bullying, and direct threats, even as he disavowed some of the more extreme. Finally, the spurned speakers in this game of thrones couldn’t and wouldn’t let him win. Although both McCarthy and Scalise hid their hands while throwing the rock and voted for him all three times, both of them got enough votes among the holdout supporters of their candidacies on different votes to block Jordan. For example, Scalise picked up eight votes on the 3rd round. For those keeping score, Jordan couldn’t afford to lose more than four votes, and there were four freshmen that never voted for him any on any round.
It all got so pathetic at the end that Florida’s Matt Gaetz, who triggered McCarthy’s defeat said his cabal of eight would accept discipline from the Republican caucus if the rest would pretty please vote for Jordan. Ha, no way! This is politics, not pitty-patty. What goes around, comes around.
For the country, we have to wonder at this point if the Republicans can find anyone left with clean enough hands and no permanent enemies to bridge the chasms separating the Five Families in their caucus. That won’t be easy. Among the bunch of no-names throwing their hats in the ring, only one voted to certify Biden for example, and that’s still a big issue for some of the families. Who knows? I have no predictions.
What is clear is that for every day this continues to go on with the 2024 election hardly a year off, I would bet now that there’s going to be payback from the voters. Right, left, or in-between, the deep conservatism of the general electorate is still united on Congress actually doing business more than it is in internecine conflict. Having backed Jordan as a super loser, despite being the acknowledged leader of the party, the Trump brand just took a big hit as well. His base loves his kind of chaos, but they do so in the hopes that when it matters, he will get ‘er done. The old saw that “if you broke it, you have to fix it” applies here, and Trump just proved that he couldn’t fix it, and, equally bad, it wasn’t clear he even wanted to do so.