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Scalise vs. Jordan vs... Trump?
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Catching up: It’s Steve Scalise vs Jim Jordan vs… Donald Trump?
It’s unclear if McCarthy himself has sanctioned their work. One source familiar with their efforts described the staff as “consulting and providing guidance” to Jordan’s operation, which they distinguished from an endorsement. Jordan’s top competition is Majority Leader Steve Scalise, a longtime McCarthy deputy.
Those who’ve covered McCarthy and Scalise know there’s no love lost between the two men — or their staffs, for that matter. Their rivalry dates back to at least 2018, when Scalise expressed interest in succeeding PAUL RYAN as speaker if McCarthy couldn’t get the votes. The relationship never fully recovered.
To be clear, we’re skeptical that either Jordan or his main rival, House Majority Leader Steve Scalise, can garner the 218 votes necessary to become speaker. That doesn’t mean they won’t; it just means it’ll be very difficult. We also think that the speaker election could stretch beyond next Wednesday’s current deadline.
Republicans now use powerful procedural weapons — impeachment, removal of the speaker and election certification — to thwart majority rule and disrupt democratic institutions.
The former Trump adviser has helped create the spectacle of G.O.P. dysfunction, using it to build his own following and those of the right-wing House rebels who took down Kevin McCarthy.
Expectations are at rock-bottom among House Republicans that their civil war will be resolved by the speaker vote on Wednesday…. There are way too many potential blowup points for this leadership vacuum to be easily resolved, thanks to a rump caucus of Republicans who proved they'll break with the overwhelming majority of their colleagues.
And then there’s the fan fic about The Orange Speaker in waiting: “Donald Trump to Be Nominated for Next Speaker of the House.” MTG thinks it’s fabulous idea:
Trump Himself seems to sort of like the idea too. Via Mediaite: “Trump Shares Posts Pitching Himself as Speaker and Calling Kevin McCarthy a Traitor.”
There’s. Just. One. Problem. Here is the GOP’s own Rule 26:
Rule 26—Temporary Step Aside of a Member of Leadership who is Indicted
(a) A member of the Republican Leadership shall step aside if indicted for a felony for which a sentence of two or more years imprisonment may be imposed.
(b) If a member of the Republican Elected Leadership is indicted, the Republican Conference shall meet and elect a Member to temporarily serve in that position.
To be sure the GOP could always change the rule if they really want Trump. But that would be… awkward. But, as we’ve seen, rules are malleable things these days.
Let’s start with the basic facts:
The overwhelming majority of House Republicans were satisfied with the status quo under McCarthy, but the Crazed Slavering Jackal Caucus (CSJC) has enough votes to prevent the majority of Republicans from doing as they please.
The CSJC is not of fixed size. It fluctuated in size back in January and stood at eight at the time of McCarthy’s ouster. It will grow and shrink depending on the issue and the person nominated as speaker.
The Democrats do not have a blocking majority on their own, but they have shown extreme discipline and thus do have a blocking majority in combination with the CSJC. They can be expected, absent some inducement or other extraordinary circumstances, to vote against any Republican nominee for speaker.
Nobody can become speaker without either satisfying some portion of the CSJC or attracting Democratic support.
It is unclear how anyone elected speaker with Republican votes alone can expect to remain speaker after he or she makes the concessions necessary to keep the government open in mid-November, as the CSJC regards all such concessions as anathema.
Anyone elected speaker with Democratic votes will be expected to make significant concessions of some kind to Democratic policy and organizational priorities.
Exit take: It can always get worse. But you knew that.
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How about some more shots?
In case you hadn’t noticed, we’ve launched a YouTube version of the Shots. At this point, I’m not sure if we’ll be doing this very day, but I have to say, it’s kind of fun. Here’s yesterday’s shot:
And here’s Tuesday’s:
And last week’s inaugural shot:
Want even more? Make sure you check out another new offering — Tim’s Takes on YouTube.
Tim O’Brien: the Hollow Men
You can listen to the whole thing here. Or watch it if you’re a video person.
1. The Republicans Who Are Treating Ukraine as Their Hostage
On Friday, McCarthy warned that the House might reject the Senate’s CR—resulting in a government shutdown—if the Senate were to put “Ukraine over America” by including aid for Kyiv. And on Saturday, after the House passed its Ukraine-free CR, McCarthy took another shot at the Senate and Ukraine. “What the Senate wanted to do was focus on Ukraine in front of America,” he asserted. “I understand our responsibilities, but I’m going to put America first.”
MCCARTHY’S ATTACKS SIGNIFIED a new stage of the GOP’s turn against Reaganism. The party has always had an isolationist wing. But now Republican leaders are yielding to, and in some cases exploiting, the spread of isolationism in the Republican base.
2. Kevin McCarthy’s legacy as House speaker is a damaged House and office
McCarthy’s leadership — if you can call it leadership — was notably rudderless and chaotic. On his watch, the country came to the brink of what could have been a catastrophic default on its debt. His hard-right members regularly humiliated him by blocking vital GOP-backed measures from even coming to a vote on the House floor — among them, recently, one to fund the Pentagon. It was only with the help of Democrats that he managed to muster enough votes Saturday to prevent a government shutdown.
And yet, he continued to try to appease the hard-liners, including by unilaterally opening an impeachment inquiry into President Biden based on allegations — but no evidence — that the president had benefited from the business dealings of his son Hunter.
In a grievance-filled news conference after he announced his decision not to try to get his job back, McCarthy said, with dark humor: “I made history, didn’t I?” Indeed, he has left a mark — a scar on the institution and the office — that will be hard to erase.
3. The Gaping Hole in the Center of the Electorate
As late as January 1, 2008, the percentage of Democrats exceeded that of independents as well as Republicans, but since then, the percentage of independents has been growing at the expense of both parties.
In March 2023, it hit an all-time high (since Gallup has been asking the question in 1988) of 49 percent. Republicans and Democrats were tied at 25 percent. Of course, when these independents are asked what party they lean to, Democrats and Republicans split the vote, but that's not the point.
The point is that growing percentages of the electorate are alienated from both parties. They might "lean" to one rather than the other, but that is not the same as being hardline partisans that are culturally identified with one party rather than the other. If anything, the cultural identification with the parties is diminishing.