Nihilists Gotta Nihil

[ Posted Thursday, January 5th, 2023 – 16:47 UTC ]

To sum up today's proceedings in the House of Representatives, we turn to the esteemed and well-respected political thinkers Monty Python's Flying Circus:

[One man waits behind door with a large mallet... the door opens and second man enters the room.]

"I want to compl..."

[Second man is immediately hit in the head with the mallet.]


"Hold your head like this and then go: 'Waaah!' Try it again...."

[Hits second man on head again with mallet.]


"Better, better, but: 'Waah! Waah!' Hold your hands here." [holds hands to head]


[Hits second man on head again with mallet.]


"That's it! That's it! Good!"

[Moves to strike again.]

"Stop hitting me!"


"Stop hitting me."

"Stop hitting you?


"Oh, uh... what did you come here for?"

"I came here to complain."

"Oh, I'm sorry, that's next door -- it's Being Hit On The Head lessons in here."

"What a stupid concept!"

This is all a scene from the classic "Argument Clinic" sketch, of course. And for the life of me I can't think of a more appropriate commentary on the spectacle that Republicans are continuing to put the entire country through. Except in this new version, they just keep at it over and over again. Nobody has the common sense to call an end to what is nothing short of slapstick/physical and very dark comedy. It's like the Three Stooges trying to run a chamber of Congress, to use an American example. Or maybe Laurel and Hardy is closer, with their tagline: "Now look what you made me do!"

The tragicomedy continues, in other words, for a third straight day with no end in sight. As I write this, the tenth vote is being called. Nothing has functionally changed. There are 20 Republicans -- what even some Republicans are calling the "Taliban 20" -- who are just never going to vote for Kevin McCarthy to be speaker, period. One woman votes "present" as well, assumably to keep her options open for an upcoming Senate run. And McCarthy only gets 201 votes while Democrat Hakeem Jeffries continues to get the same 212 votes (as the Democratic Party remains unified). Helpfully, McCarthy loses his fifth and sixth vote at the very start of the alphabet, meaning the interested viewer can walk away at that point and do something else, already knowing he's going to lose this round, too.

At this point, McCarthy has given the Chaos Caucus every single thing they've demanded. And he hasn't picked up a single vote by caving to their demands. So this is either going to continue until McCarthy has some sort of "come to Jesus moment" and decides to withdraw his candidacy, or possibly until Hell freezes over.

Perhaps that is being too negative, but then again perhaps not. What the Chaos Caucus wants is... nothing. Lots and lots of nothing. They want the House to accomplish nothing at all. No bills passing other than ones that they personally approve of -- which means no bills that the Democratic Senate is even going to consider. They want no budget bills to pass, period. They want to gut Social Security and Medicare/Medicaid and they're willing to torpedo the entire American economy to do so. They are, in a word, nihilists. They stand -- strongly! -- for nothing. Lots and lots and lots of nothing.

You have to wonder, given those facts, who in their right mind would even accept the job anymore. If McCarthy bows out, who else is going to volunteer for what is guaranteed to be an absolutely frustrating and downright-impossible job? Any Republican has to know that the only way anything is going to happen in the 118th Congress is to put together a coalition with enough Democrats to overcome the Chaos Caucus, who will refuse to accept anything. Which is precisely what the Chaos Caucus is so upset about in the first place -- the fact that a budget just got passed for most of the rest of this year, with bipartisan support. This enrages them, but it will still be the only way to get anything done, no matter how intense their rage is. All of this is patently obvious. So who would put their own neck on that chopping block? The last two Republican speakers left Congress in disgust over their own members, after all. The next one seems almost predestined to take the same route, sooner or later. It seems like political suicide is baked in to the job of any Republican speaker these days. Only a committed masochist would even be interested, to put it another way.

This could all be a forgotten sideshow, a footnote in the history books, if they find some sort of way out of the morass they themselves have created. But then again it could wind up being more significant. This could be the end of the Republican Party, as it irreconcilably splits into two factions. At this point, anything seems possible. Or we could wind up with some sort of power-sharing arrangement, with possibly some Democrats chairing a few key committees. This sort of parliamentary alliance (with a moderate, sane, and reasonable Republican as speaker) could work and could serve to defuse the radical extremists in the Republican Party. But I have no idea what the chances for any of these scenarios coming true even is, at this point.

What seems much more possible is a whole lotta nothin' going on. Maybe the key bills (budget, debt ceiling hike) will somehow manage to pass the lower chamber. But little else will be accomplished other than Republicans venting their collective spleens in pointless political investigations into all their myriad conspiracy theories.

The Chaos Caucus truly does stand for nothing. This is why it has been impossible for McCarthy to satisfy them ideologically, because even they have no real idea what they want. This could be a preamble to two long years of nothing (much) getting done. No matter what hapless Republican is given the titular job of "leading," the lunatics will truly be in charge of the asylum. Which means we can all look forward to a whole lot of nothing. Because what it all seems to be coming down to is: nihilists gotta nihil.

-- Chris Weigant


Follow Chris on Twitter: @ChrisWeigant


13 Comments on “Nihilists Gotta Nihil”

  1. [1] 
    BashiBazouk wrote:

    Record! Record! Go for the Record!

    The previous record is just shy of two months and 133 votes. Let's do this thing!

  2. [2] 
    andygaus wrote:

    ...while merrily singing
    I got plenty of nuttin',
    And nuttin's plenty for me...

  3. [3] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:

    The last handful of Republican Speakers have been defenestrated by their own.

    (Wait for it)

    Apparently, Republicans like their Speakers well founded!


  4. [4] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:

    …well GROUNDED.

  5. [5] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:

    A repeated “eff you” from the Taliban 20 might lead the Sane 200 — not wanting to be unnecessarily associated with the bomb throwers — to be less inclined to go along with at least some of the most objectively pointless and politically damaging probes of Hunter’s Alleged Laptop or whatever.

    Beau has fleshed out my McCarthy strategy (of pulling ALL the concessions OFF the table, FPC) to include Democratic participation (that benefits them even more.) (7:43)

    The skinny:

    It would end this foolishness and further humiliation for McCarthy. The first failed vote tomorrow will make my Kevin McCarthy’s Twelve Stations of the Cross a slam dunk column title, no?

    But it’ll have a short shelf life, as I fear that the Sane 200 lacks the imagination to do anything besides trying to bash the Taliban 20 into submission by further votes. I see no signs of either side budging.

  6. [6] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Congratulations, Chris on achieving yet another fundraising goal!!! (Did you check your mail box?)

  7. [7] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    gotta hand it to them, from their perspective the nihilists are in a win-win situation. if their insane demands are met, it'll further damage the government. if they're not met, the ensuing chaos from their refusal will damage the government. either way, they get what they want.

  8. [8] 
    Speak2 wrote:

    I've been trying to figure out the endgame of the Nih19; or, at least an out (face-saving?).

    I don't consider Donalds one of the Nih19. He voted for McCarthy on the first two ballots and then said, Hey, you had two months to close the deal and you didn't, you're not Speaker material (and I can't fault him for that thinking).

    I don't want to call them reasonable Republican so the Not Unreasonable Republican (NUR (tm)) have an in case of emergency option by forming some sort of coalition deal with Ds.

    So, the Nih19?
    What if the "consensus candidate" gives them nothing? Unfortunately, I'm wondering about RSC Chair Hern. Ryan had demands. What if Hern's demands were "all concessions and rules changes are off the table." He'll consider such things but not in exchange for votes. Sort of a Ryan-esque, I don't want it but I'll do it for the good of the Party, but without conditions?

    Does the Nih19 then respond that he's demonstrated that he's got the spine to take on Biden, McConnell, Schumer, Jeffries, and the Stephen King clown in It and give him their support? I bet Gaetz nominates him after such a speech (yes, I tasted a tiny bit of vomit in the back of my throat typing that name).

  9. [9] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:

    ”We never had this kind of chaos when I was Speaker."

    -George Santos

  10. [10] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:

    But seriously, if there’s any silver lining it’s the Repug improvement of today’s January 6th and the last January 6th that mattered:


  11. [11] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:

    A smidge more Yuletide Cheer…before I forget…,

    Tell your wife that I have her Yuletide log and ask her if she’d like me to bring it around the back.

    You have some Trump on your chin. Here, use this towel to wipe it off.

  12. [12] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:



    I like that.

  13. [13] 
    Speak2 wrote:

    Thanks, MC.

    Gotta admit, from an ego POV, I was pleased with myself for pulling that one from the hip as I was writing the comment.

Comments for this article are closed.