OPEN THREAD: MAGA and Dems Remove Speaker Kevin McCarthy

For the first time ever, a majority party in the House of Representatives has voted to remove its own Speaker from office. Democrats voted to remove Kevin McCarthy — taking a really stupid risk, in my view, but one consistent with their prioritizing of form (non-cooperation) over content (avoiding disaster) — and enough MAGA Republicans joined them for a 216-210 vote. The Majority Leader, Patrick McHenry will take over as Acting Speaker with limited powers: the ability to preside over Speaker elections.

(All the Democrats had to do was to have six of them abstain — and the motion to remove would have failed on a 210-210 vote. Democrats would have then had their own sword hanging over McCarthy’s head.)

Until McCarthy is replaced, no bills can come to the House floor. I hope, but do not know, that work can still proceed in committees; I could imagine a Republican boycott of such work — leading to an inevitable government shutdown that no new Speaker (unless coming from a Democratic + moderate Republican coalition) will be able to delay or resolve. And, of course, the budget bills are coming due.

Why are they doing this? Well, your big clue is that Donald Trump was against the House agreeing to a Continuing Resolution to extend the current budget by 45 days. In other words, he wants a shutdown.

Pundits’ initial thinking was that Trump wanted to stop the federal trials against him in their tracks. But it turns out that trials will go forward even in the event of the shutdown. Maybe he didn’t know that — but, either way, he likely had a deeper reason in mind as well.

Right now, although the public doesn’t seem to get it yet, the overall economy is doing pretty well under President Biden. That is a big problem for Candidate Trump.

A government shutdown, especially a long one, will likely tank the U.S. economy. (At best, it will not “tank” it, but it will create a lot of misery and some terrible economic numbers.

Next fall, one would think that logically the voters would blame the actions of the House of Reps from 13 months before. But people are not logical.

They tend to blame the President for the state of the economy. People blamed Obama for the state of the economy based on a recession that began with a deregulation-fueled crash a few months before he took office.

This is especially true because the Republicans have some tremendous advantages at PR — ones that the Democrats lack — which will lead a large part of the public to lay blame on Biden.

First, they have about a third of the public that will literally believe anything that Trump tells them, just like sports fans will so often view a questionable penalty or foul in a way that benefits their team.

Second, they have the media and social networks to spread their take on the news, through repetition, to inculcate it in voters. The takeaway from today that will be drilled into the public mind when things go bas is that 96.3% of the votes to Remove Kevin McCarthy from the Speakership — without knowing whether, when, or by whom he would be replaced — came from Democrats.

Third, the MAGAs among them truly don’t care if this company (and much of the rest of the world) takes an economic hit. They’re against NATO, they’re against international economic cooperation, they’d like to end efforts to fight climate change, and they frankly admire tough and cruel “strongman” leaders and governments (so long as they aren’t communist.) Putin they see as more of a brutal dictator (with a reasonable grievance) rather than as a “commie.”

Fourth, they care most about winning and less about collateral damage. They will rationalize that most of those harmed by a global economic collapse will be poor people at home, minorities abroad, and that in any event they have guns to protect them and, if all else fails, a god who will grant them eternal salvation no matter what so long as the declare fealty.

Fifth, in the sort of damage we could see, President BIden will be in a series of (probably worsening) “no-win situations.” Inevitably, he will make mistakes — or sometimes things that just look like mistakes because his response was the best of terrible options. (Think of Jimmy Carter’s trying to deal with the hostage crisis.) So Biden would be more vulnerable than ever to unprincipled and simplistic attacks from MAGA and the rest of the right wing.

The cost of chaos and upheaval might seem unreasonably high to some people — but hey, Donald Trump REALLY does not want to go to prison, and this is the only way he can stop it! So WE the ones who want “vengeance” (actually, law and order, but potayto-potahto) more than we want to keep MAGA from releasing the Kraken!

The only solution here, given that gerrymandering has given Republicans this majority, is for a Republican to become Speaker with unified Democratic votes and Democratic votes. Hakeen Jeffries will NEVER become Speaker in this Congress because Republicans seriously don’t mind seeing the baby cut in half. It has to be the most moderate republican available, one who needs to attract no more than seven people’s votes besides his or her own.

The obvious choice, who says he doesn’t want it (but who would probably choose it over catastrophe and chaos) is Rep. Don Bacon of Nebraska, head of the Problem Solvers Caucus. That’s the one that Lou Correa is part of. They’re generally useless at anything except watering down progressive (or even traditionally liberal) legislation — but rallying Democrats to vote in a Reasonable Republican as Speaker to avoid disaster is finally a useful task for them.

(My guess is that they won’t do it.)

Meanwhile, Kamala Harris ought to take point on making these arguments. It’s time for her to work up on her skills — including sarcasm and disdain — to be a badass ninja in order to save the world. The President doesn’t have the sharp tongue to do it. Kamala had better find it in herself.

And: California Democratic Party that will want to censure anyone who votes for a Republican for Speaker? Just pipe down and fuck off until this is over — and thanks!

About Greg Diamond

Somewhat verbose attorney, semi-disabled and semi-retired, residing in northwest Brea. Occasionally ran for office against jerks who otherwise would have gonr unopposed. Got 45% of the vote against Bob Huff for State Senate in 2012; Josh Newman then won the seat in 2016. In 2014 became the first attorney to challenge OCDA Tony Rackauckas since 2002; Todd Spitzer then won that seat in 2018. Every time he's run against some rotten incumbent, the *next* person to challenge them wins! He's OK with that. Corrupt party hacks hate him. He's OK with that too. He does advise some local campaigns informally and (so far) without compensation. (If that last bit changes, he will declare the interest.) His daughter is a professional campaign treasurer. He doesn't usually know whom she and her firm represent. Whether they do so never influences his endorsements or coverage. (He does have his own strong opinions.) But when he does check campaign finance forms, he is often happily surprised to learn that good candidates he respects often DO hire her firm. (Maybe bad ones are scared off by his relationship with her, but they needn't be.)