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Speaker Malfunction

One hopes Kevin McCarthy saved the receipt, from selling his soul. The poor man sure isn’t getting what he bargained for.

But he certainly is getting exactly what anybody could see coming, including yours truly in this very blog. Ever since Newt Gingrich’s speakership imploded under the weight of his own hypocrisy, every Republican who has occupied that position has come to a miserable end, hounded to death by his own party’s Crackpot Caucus. John Boehner famously celebrated his retirement. No matter how hard right the Republican speaker tacks, it’s never hard enough for the Tea Party or MAGA or whatever the next incarnation of far-right craziness calls itself. Their object, it has become increasingly clear, is the destruction of the federal government by paralyzing and defunding all its functions, whereupon they intend to rebuild it on Christianist/fascist lines. The initial stages of this plot, which amounts to an open conspiracy, can seemingly be accomplished with relative ease, by refusing to pass a federal budget and thereby shutting down most of the government indefinitely, and even better by refusing to raise the so-called debt limit, thereby causing the United States to default on its national debt.

That either scenario and especially the second would cause an economic panic is all to the good, as far as fascists who expect to benefit from the chaos are concerned. Yet at the last minute, every Republican speaker and every Republican Congress has always stopped short of going over the brink. This, to the Crackpot Caucus, is an unforgiveable series of betrayals. Hence the current standoff.

We would be fools to attempt to predict the immediate outcome of this political disaster in the making. The story goes that in 1924, with the Democratic National Convention hopelessly deadlocked, the great journalist and cultural icon H.L. Mencken wrote a dispatch for the Baltimore Sun in which he concluded that that whatever happened, the compromise candidate John W. Davis would not be nominated. When that happened on the very next ballot, Mencken is supposed to have exclaimed, “I hope those idiots in Baltimore had enough sense to take out the negative!” When I say that what is unfolding now is a disaster, though, I don’t mean solely for McCarthy and the Republican Party, both of which deserve to be kicked in the teeth for their cowardice, shamelessness, and mendacity. The trouble is that the likes of Lauren Boebert and Paul Gosar are in a position to hold America itself hostage for at least the next two years, whichever quisling they finally agree to let assume the speakership.


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