A Parliament Of Badgers

[ Posted Monday, January 9th, 2023 – 17:51 UTC ]

After an excruciatingly-long battle, newly-anointed Speaker Kevin McCarthy began business in the Republican House of Representatives today. He's already reportedly having problems with the first order of business -- voting for a package of rules the House will operate under for the next two years. Some (especially on the left) are making bets on how long McCarthy will even be able to keep his gavel, since one of the new rules will allow any one House member to call what is essentially a "no confidence" vote to oust McCarthy at any time. Or to sum all of this up, the rollercoaster ride we all went through last week doesn't look like it's about to end any time soon.

McCarthy is an extraordinarily weak party leader. Here's how one conservative columnist for the New York Times put it today: "A few honorable exceptions aside, the G.O.P. is basically split between reptiles and invertebrates. McCarthy is the ultimate invertebrate." Not exactly a ringing endorsement, and that's from a conservative writer. Which is why my guess is that most of the House Republicans -- even the frothing-at-the-mouth lunatics -- will probably be happy enough to keep McCarthy where he is, at least for the next few months. McCarthy has proven that he will accede to any demand from the extremists, so why bother removing him? I would be surprised, in fact, if anyone does call for a motion to "vacate the chair" any time soon -- say, before this summer, at the earliest.

The outgoing 117th Congress gave McCarthy (and the rest of the country) this breathing room, after all. The budget is settled for the year, meaning the big budget fights won't really begin to happen until we get a lot closer to October (the start of the federal fiscal year). The debt ceiling is adequate enough to keep the money flowing until at least midyear as well.

In the meantime, we're going to have what might be called a "parliament of badgers" (I know, I know... that's supposed to be "owls" -- I even looked it up and the correct term is "a cete of badgers"... who knew?). Allow me to explain. What is the main priority of the incoming Republican majority? To "own the libs." That's really it, in a nutshell. They want to score cheap political points and get their faces on television as much as possible. This means there will simultaneously be an explosion of "messaging" bills (that have precisely zero chance of even being considered by the Democratic Senate) and a whole slew of investigations opened into anything any of the hotheads feels like investigating. Little will get done, but of course that's not the point. House Republicans are not interested in the slightest in getting anything done, instead they want some payback. They want to vent their collective spleens. And the easiest way to accomplish this will be to call anyone connected to President Joe Biden in any way in front of a committee -- to badger them mercilessly. That's what we're in for, for the foreseeable future: badger, badger, badger.

My prediction is that this House will be known more for Jim Jordan than Kevin McCarthy. McCarthy's going to be an afterthought, a footnote. The real center of Republican attention is going to be on Jordan, as he chairs a powerful committee and a newly-formed powerful subcommittee -- both with the singular purpose of investigating the rest of the government. Which, to Jordan, means the freedom to yell at anyone he feels should be yelled at. And I have to give credit where it is due, Jordan is unsurpassed in his ability to yell at people testifying before him. His jackassery absolutely takes the prize, hands down (at least in the House -- in the Senate, Rand Paul is Jordan's equal, in this regard).

Jordan will pose questions based on pure moonbeams. He will air all the conspiracy theories out there floating around in the conservative media space. He will refuse to accept any truths which contradict all these flights of fantasy. He will insinuate the worst possible reads of any answers he is given. He will browbeat, he will talk all over his witnesses' attempts to speak, and he is a fast-talker -- he can get 20 words in edgewise when most people could only mange maybe two. He will easily become the champion "say something outrageous to get the clip on the evening news" guy, even with the stiff competition he will have from the other hardliners in his caucus. Which is why I say we're all going to feel like it is Jordan's House much more than McCarthy's, once these hearings get rolling.

My guess is that the go-to phrase the media will be repeating ad nauseam about the speaker will be: "McCarthy can only lose four votes." This is how his tenure began -- with the endless procession of speaker votes, and now the rules package -- and it is how his tenure will continue. McCarthy needs the backing of almost all of his party's caucus, and they are not exactly notable for being able to play nice together.

There are things that Congress must do, but most of them will be pushed out until the absolute deadline. The first half of this year is going to mostly be consumed with performance art, for lack of a better term. Success in the Republican Party in the Trumpian era comes from how loud and outrageous you can be, after all, and that's what we're going to witness in the coming months -- an endless contest between Republicans to see who can throw the biggest tantrum. The culture wars will be front and center, followed closely by a monumental and concerted effort to tear down Joe Biden -- all he stands for, all he has accomplished, and all he plans to do in the future. Remember the endless Benghazi hearings? They were merely a prelude for what we're about to be subjected to.

It won't matter in the slightest if nothing nefarious is uncovered by any of this badger-fest. Again, that's not the point. Cabinet members may be impeached for the "high crime and misdemeanor" of not being a Republican. The conspiracies are already baked into the cake -- no amount of proof to the contrary for any of them will matter in the slightest. Few minds will be changed by any of this, but it will be just what the red-meat Trumpian base is cheering for, so that'll be good enough.

House Republicans know deep down that none of their wildest ideas will ever be signed into law by President Biden. They've got a Democratic Senate and a veto pen standing in the way of that ever happening. So making lots of noise and screaming and throwing tantrums will really be all they've got. Which doesn't worry them in the slightest, because that's what they're really itching to do anyway. Badgering any and all who don't hew to their orthodoxy is what they seem to be best at, and now that they've got the weakest speaker in 100 years, there will be no constraints on their actions. McCarthy is terrified of being deposed, so he certainly isn't even going to attempt to impose any sort of discipline at all. As I said, keep those seatbelts on because this rollercoaster is just getting started.

-- Chris Weigant


Follow Chris on Twitter: @ChrisWeigant


20 Comments on “A Parliament Of Badgers”

  1. [1] 
    ListenWhenYouHear wrote:

    From Jennifer Ruben at the Washington Post:

    Democratic Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) got off to a flying start in the 118th Congress with what will forever be known as the “alphabet speech,” including this bit of acrostic poetry:

    We will never compromise our principles. House Democrats will always put American values over autocracy. Benevolence over bigotry. The Constitution over the cult. Democracy over demagogues. Economic opportunity over extremism. Freedom over fascism. Governing over gaslighting. Hopefulness over hatred. Inclusion over isolation. Justice over judicial overreach. Knowledge over kangaroo courts. Liberty over limitation. Maturity over Mar-a-Lago. Normalcy over negativity. Opportunity over obstruction. People over politics. Quality-of-life issues over QAnon. Reason over racism. Substance over slander. Triumph over tyranny. Understanding over ugliness. Voting rights over voter suppression. Working families over the well connected. Xenial [hospitality] over xenophobia. ‘Yes, we can’ over ‘you can’t do it,’ and zealous representation over zero-sum confrontation.

    All the more impressive for speaking without notes or a teleprompter, Jeffries set a tone for Democrats that was both contemporary and high-minded, fun and sophisticated. With the cadence of a preacher and erudite vocabulary of a professor, he perfectly encapsulated the difference between his party’s optimism and accomplishment and his opponents’ bitterness even in victory.

  2. [2] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:

    It won’t matter in the slightest if nothing nefarious is uncovered…

    To Repugs, of course not. But after three decent election cycles and 81 million Americans voting for Joe Biden/against the insanity…

    More insanity WILL, however, make a difference to at least some independents and some people who don’t generally vote.

    I’m sad that it’s come to this, but I am otherwise okay with watching the GOP clown show along with some Trump-DoJ action during this 118th Congress. Nothing but good news for Dems heading into 2024, I say

  3. [3] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Did someone say they have some rose-coloured glasses?

  4. [4] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    When do the investigations begin!?

  5. [5] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Clinton, Trump and Biden ... the three amigos. Heh.

  6. [6] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Actually, it's all beyond hilarious.

  7. [7] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:


    You have to give the Repugs more time to get their act together (see race, Speaker) before we even get a whiff of investigations.

  8. [8] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Are ya sure about that?

  9. [9] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    I've been waiting forever for Biden to be the POTUS but I'm beginning to think that that is the worst thing that could ever have happened to him.

    I don't believe very much in the "promise of America" anymore ... :(

  10. [10] 
    Speak2 wrote:

    MC [2]
    Being a professional clown requires hard work and training. It's not easy. You insult them when you compare the GOP to clowns. Please be more considerate

    Obviously, that sounds like a joke, but it really isn't.

  11. [11] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    Mushroom, mushroom
    Snake, ohh, it's a snake

  12. [12] 
    John From Censornati wrote:

    [9] I'm beginning to think that that is the worst thing that could ever have happened to him.

    It's difficult to understand why anybody wants the job. Fat Donny could've continued his crime wave untouched for the rest of his life had he not invited such scrutiny.

    I don't believe very much in the "promise of America" anymore ...

    A wise choice.

    Maybe Joe's new document scandal will convince him to go away.

  13. [13] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:


    Yo, clown show joins shit show and dumpster fire as phrases describing our new Republican House majority …that I did NOT invent.In fact I started seeing all of them across various media platforms going back to when the Repugs were still sweating out their House majority right after the election..

    I wasn’t joking, I was merely using clown show as a descriptor of the [pick from the above list] Republicans. And I assure you that no clown was harmed in the posting of [2].

  14. [14] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:


    It depends on something that we don’t know — the security classifications of the comparatively small number of doc(s) found at Joe’s think tank. Trump had highest classification TS/SCI docs among literally hundreds of classified docs and repeatedly refused to give them up. In contrast, Joe’s attorneys immediately called the National Archives and surrendered all the docs when the NA showed up the very next morning to take custody. So unless Joe’s docs have higher classifications rather than lower Joe’s docs is a big nothingburger.

  15. [15] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:

    Okaaay. Reporting says there were TS/SCI docs among those that Joe’s lawyers turned over upon discovery. Not remotely as willful as Trump but still, it’s not a good look.

  16. [16] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:


    I saw that comment of mine this morning and seriously don't remember tapping it out. Not really sure what that means ...

  17. [17] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:


    And, the docs were in an envelope marked 'VP Personal'.
    My thoughts are that there are three versions of this movie - Clinton, Trump and Biden - and my guy comes out on top, any which way you slice it! :)

  18. [18] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    And, there is the General, Petraeus - the guy CNN touts as their military analyst. Heh.

  19. [19] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    So unless Joe’s docs have higher classifications rather than lower Joe’s docs is a big nothingburger.

    While the differences are stark and striking, I don't think diminishing the seriousness of it is the right political move.

  20. [20] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    i'm still on about badgers.

    Badger, badger, badger, badger, badger
    Badger, badger, badger, badger, badger
    Mushroom, mushroom, a-
    Badger, badger, badger, badger, badger
    Badger, badger, badger, badger, badger
    Mushroom, mushroom, a-
    Badger, badger, badger, badger, badger
    Badger, badger, badger, badger, badger
    Mush-mushroom, a
    Badger, badger, badger, badger, badger
    Badger, badger, badger, badger, badger
    Argh! Snake, a snake!
    Snaaake! A snaaaake, oooh its a snake!
    It's a badger, badger, badger, badger
    Bbadger, badger, badger, badger, badger, badger
    Mushroom, mushroom, a-

    ~Jonti Picking, the badger song

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