*Angrily easel-fingers the cmd key and A button. Slams delete with three—not just one!—fingers, wiping away half a column on Rep. Jamaal Bowman’s ignorance of fire alarms and why inept stupidity is a better political heuristic than malevolence.*
Bah! The news cycle giveth and taketh. Or, in this new case, it Gaetzith and taketh.
So long multiple sprouting stories about Democratic chicanery, including the President’s son’s arraignment on a felony firearm rap. Just when things were getting good for the GOP, a preening prick with a pompadour just had to stretch his collagen-puffed lips around the spotlight. It’s not like we’re in election season or anything.
Rep. Matt Gaetz, caustic congressman of the feisty Florida panhandle, took personal political spite to a whole new level, kamikaze-ing a motion-to-vacate ornithopter right at Kevin McCarthy’s speakership. (Cowardly ejecting before impact, natch.)
Rep. Gaetz and seven other dim-bulbed dwarves—each a mix of Grumpy and Dopey—took the plunge, booting McCarthy from the Speaker lectern without so much as an audible option. Who needs contingencies when you’re mad as hell and definitely, for sure, no doubt about it, not going to take it anymore, except for a giddy flash of one-time, low-dollar donations?
Now the disparate factions of the raucous House Republicans have to settle on another speaker, even after the agonizing dozen-plus votes it took to elevate keister-kissing Kev back in January.
OR DO THEY?? *DUH* *DUH* *DUH*.
Reps. Jim Jordan, who has a sweaty stripling problem, and Steve Scalise, who has David Duke-pally problem, are vying for the gavel. It’s a jump ball at the latest report. (The war in Israel may hasten the picking procedure.) No doubt each gunner’s respective staffers are burning the lines, furiously dialing their counterparts across the Capitol, offering every possible concession, from junkets, to sponsored fundraisers, to email-name usage, to authorized stock photos for direct-mail usage, to brief appearances at the first-born’s wedding, so they can possibly command one more “aye” in the hunt for 218.
Never one to pass on free publicity, President Trump is throwing his MAGA hat in the ring for Speaker, albeit for the interim, while facing just as many criminal charges as needed votes. Oh, he’s also running for President, if you didn’t know. Who says he can’t manage half of Congress between court appearances, campaign rallies, Truth Social screeds, and Diet Coke binges?
But as the horse race, and all the headline pumping palace intrigue, continues apace, the House of Representatives, the great, calamitous body of barking American factions, hums along thanks to the greatest bureaucratic invention since carried interest: the boundless pro tem position. Rep. Patrick McHenry, a mousy operator who could be a ringer for Murray Rothbard’s son, has assumed a sort of shadow gavel, appointed by outgoing McCarthy as Speaker Pro Tempore.
So raises the question: If Rep. McHenry wields the power, why does the lower chamber need to hold a successor vote? Can’t the bespectacled temp just pass the reins to another empty suit when he tires of them? Most of the federal monstrosity we call the government is on auto-pilot already, our elected officials having ceded control to unelected, nameless, faceless bureaucrats who operate with impunity. Congress willingly relinquished its main prerogative—overseeing the executive branch—a long time ago. Why not apply the same lack of motivation to itself? It would save all involved the trouble of a messy leadership bout.
Even the presidential race has been swallowed by a grim predetermination. We’re inexorably sliding toward a geriatric rematch, with rambling barbs traded before blue-plate supper time. No young upstart challengers are capable of altering the dynamic, even as voters consistently maintain they want fresh-faced, non-liver spotted candidates. The Bradly effect colliding with Fenno’s paradox results in po-mo America’s preferred recourse: settling.
Think I doubt and diminish the creative capacity of the great U.S. of A., the country that whipped world powers, colonized the moon, and gave us six “Die Hard” movies? Well take one look at our most profitable, cutting-edge, and valued companies. Do they also not operate largely by an unseen, intangible algorithm? Our financial system functions mostly through split-second trades calculated by ever-adjusting formulas. Hollywood put film production on reboot churning years ago. (Does “Good Burger” really need a sequel?) Silicon Valley is actively trying to circumvent human volition, migrating anything that moves to the cloud for seamless automation.
A sentient being has to occupy the decked-out Speaker’s office, and its primo vista of the Mall. Why can’t it just be a round-robin baton of stand-ins, each giving “official” imprimatur to the House’s daily business of naming post offices and blowing wads of freshly printed dollars patchworking a creaking empire?
To ask the question pulls back the spangled curtain on our republic’s governing institutions: that its most inefficient but humane functions remain operative because of adherence to tradition. Pesky things like leadership races and committee votes, full of bickering, vain aspirations, Machiavellian scheming, trivial revenge, and last-minute bargains, can easily be wiped away, all given over to a cold, fine-tuned process, freed from what Alexander Pope called the “glory, jest and riddle of the world,” otherwise known as humanity.
The techno-algorithmic state sounds both boring and frightfully effective. Better to keep its important operations in human hands, assigning statecraft to bumbling, error-prone, venal men who’d sell their mothers out for plush seating on the Water, Wildlife, and Fisheries subcommittee.
Human drama keeps the state limited in its own fashion. The blob is harder to change than any individual mind. The potential to turn a politician from any given course of action is worth the droolingly stupid Politico scoops.