Friday Talking Points -- Republicans Get Their 'Poop In A Group'

[ Posted Friday, October 27th, 2023 – 18:05 UTC ]

After three weeks of junior-high-school levels of adolescent slap-fighting, Republicans in the House of Representatives finally (!) chose a speaker. Was this largely due to fatigue at how tawdry the whole clown show was, or was it the fear that some moderate members were actually considering working with Democrats to come up with a solution? We'll never know, but we certainly are glad it's over. For now, that is. The rule on the "motion to vacate" hasn't changed, so while Speaker Mike Johnson seems to be enjoying something of a honeymoon period with even the furthest-right of his caucus, things could always go south for him, since all it would take would be five disgruntled Republicans to kick him out too. And disgruntled is what MAGA extremists do best, so we'll have to see whether this comes to pass or not in the weeks ahead.

Feelings ran high throughout all of this, of course. Think that "junior-high-school" comment was too much? Well, maybe so -- we may be giving Republicans too much credit. This seems worthy of an elementary school playground, actually:

[Former Speaker Kevin] McCarthy told reporters on Tuesday that he didn't think the House Republicans could move on until [Representative Matt] Gaetz and the other seven Republicans who voted to eject him from the speakership faced "consequences" -- but Gaetz said he wasn't worried about facing punishment.

"Sounds like loser crybaby talk to me," Gaetz said.

See what we mean? No? How about this one then:

"Let's get our poop in a group, people. We've got to figure this out," Rep. Bill Huizenga (Mich.) admonished his GOP colleagues in a closed-door caucus meeting on Tuesday. (The remarks, naturally, were immediately leaked to reporters.) "I don't want us to go out there and, in front of the entire world, puke on our shoes again. That's what we've been doing."

. . .

The evening before, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.), asked the panel of nine men then running for speaker whether they would impeach or otherwise harass various Biden administration officials. "I want to know which one of you have the balls to hold them accountable," she said, as relayed to the indispensable Olivia Beavers of Politico.

This was the second time in a week that a woman in the GOP caucus had raised doubts about her colleagues' testicles. Rep. Nancy Mace (R-S.C.), irritated that Rep. Greg Murphy (R-N.C.) blocked her on social media, posted: "This is exactly what's wrong with this place -- too many men here with no balls."

Playground insults (and scatological comments) aside, the Republicans have now wasted the better part of a month -- and not during some lull period in congressional activity, but instead with a ticking government-shutdown clock. Congress has until November 17th -- just before Thanksgiving -- to produce some sort of budget legislation and get it signed by President Joe Biden, or else the government will shut down.

This could be a full budget for the next (current, actually) fiscal year, or it could be yet another "supplemental" that kicks the can down the road a bit more. Johnson has been floating the idea of kicking the can all the way to mid-January or even March, which would certainly give Congress oodles of time to resolve everything, but we'll have to see. To pass both the House and the Senate is going to require Democratic votes, and the only thing Democrats are going to vote for is a "clean" continuing resolution (in other words, one not larded up with extremist rightwing "poison pills"). But passing such a clean budget supplement was what brought down Kevin McCarthy, so we'll have to see if Johnson can actually pass such a measure -- and whether he will survive any backlash from within his own ranks if he does. Johnson is pretty far rightwing himself, even if he doesn't have as odious a personality as Jim Jordan, so this may buy him some goodwill from the Chaos Caucus. Matt Gaetz -- the Republican who pulled the trigger on deposing McCarthy -- is already calling Johnson "MAGA Mike," which seems to be a sign of goodwill.

Johnson certainly spoke the language of moderation when he accepted the speakership, at least rhetorically reaching a hand out to Democrats and promising to work with them, telling them: "I know that in your heart you love and care about this country and you want to do what's right, and so we're going to find common ground there." We'll see whether he ever follows through on this promise, though.

Johnson comes in as an unknown to most people -- even most people in Congress. "Who?" was a common reaction upon hearing he had been nominated by the House Republicans (emphasis in original):

During Wednesday's roll-call vote on the House floor, Kay Granger (R-Tex.), chair of the Appropriations Committee, rose and mistakenly voted for "Mike Rogers" -- the chairman of the Armed Services committee -- before correcting herself to Mike Johnson. Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.), in a statement congratulating the new speaker, called him Jim Johnson. Susan Collins of Maine, top Republican on the Senate Appropriations Committee, told CNN's Lauren Fox Wednesday morning that she'd have to Google him.

He doesn't exactly have a lot of name recognition, in other words. Or much legislative accomplishment, for that matter. As one Republican put it:

"He is the leader the conference deserves," said one Republican lawmaker, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to speak candidly. "His record is not stellar."

But at least he wasn't Kevin McCarthy or Jim Jordan! That seems to be his one strength -- he hasn't seriously annoyed too many of his fellow Republicans in any way. McCarthy being deposed and Jordan being refused the gavel was both personal, to put this another way. It was: "We don't like you!" writ large, plain and simple. Johnson hasn't sparked that kind of opposition... yet, at least.

His win was a big one for the rightwing faction of Republicans. Behind his mild-mannered appearance and demeanor is a pretty extreme political personality:

In the new speaker, the hard right got a leader of efforts to overturn the 2020 election based on false claims of malfeasance. It got someone very conservative on the issues of abortion and gay rights at a time when the country has moved in the opposite direction -- and Republicans worry about how such views play with swing voters. It got someone who has regularly voted against Ukraine funding, despite a majority of House Republicans supporting it. It got someone who has been a leader, alongside Jordan, in spouting conspiratorial allegations, including those about rigged voting machines and the "weaponization" of the federal government.

We'll have to see how all of this translates into his leadership of the House. Will he push his own pet issues, or will he be influenced by what a majority of his conference agrees with? We'll have to wait and see.

Already Johnson is being forced into a contentious tit-for-tat of censure resolutions, but we'll have more on this in a bit, down in the awards section. To his credit, Johnson has already passed one of the 12 appropriations bills that make up the federal budget (four had previously passed, one passed yesterday, and there are seven more that haven't passed yet) and passed a "sense of the House" resolution supporting Israel. That's pretty good for his first couple of days, even we have to admit. The House will be on a break until next Wednesday, when we'll all see what happens next.

In election news, two Republicans you were not aware were running have now ended their presidential campaigns, as Perry Johnson and Larry Elder both bowed out. And the moderators were chosen for the next presidential debate (which will take place on November 8th): Lester Holt, Kristen Welker, and Hugh Hewitt. This means it'll be the first debate not hosted by rightwing media, so the questions should be a lot more interesting.

On the Democratic side, Joe Biden will not have his name on the New Hampshire primary ballot. Biden tried to singlehandedly muscle New Hampshire out of the "first in the nation" primary slot, but the Granite State is going to go first anyway. So the Democratic National Committee may strip them of their delegates to the nominating convention and Biden won't be on their ballot (which would give their primary official credence). Instead, there will be a write-in campaign in the state for Biden.

But there will also be a new name on the New Hampshire Democratic primary ballot: Representative Dean Phillips has filed his paperwork to run. Our reaction was the same as yours: "Who?" Phillips is running for some sort of protest reason against Biden, and will likely make about as much impact as Marianne Williamson, the other Democrat on the ballot.

Robert F. Kennedy Junior will not be on Democratic primary ballots, since he has gone rogue and will be running an independent campaign in the general election. His name recognition will get him some votes, as will his anti-vaccine stance. But he may wind up pulling more votes from Trump than from Biden. Kennedy's also got a boatload of money -- his campaign raised $8.7 million last quarter, which was more money than Nikki Haley or Tim Scott managed to raise. It was more than Mike Pence and Chris Christie raised combined. It was more than any other presidential candidate except Donald Trump, Joe Biden, and Ron DeSantis, in fact. So his third-party candidacy will indeed be a force to be reckoned with.

Donald Trump is out there campaigning (as well as being in court, which we'll get to in a moment), and saying some head-scratching things, as usual. He mixed up the leader of Turkey and the leader of Hungary, marvelled at his own brilliance in realizing that "U.S." can actually be read as "us" (something he thinks nobody has ever noticed before), unconstitutionally promised to keep out immigrants who "don't like our religion," and compared himself to Nelson Mandela. He also had some advice for his supporters -- don't worry about voting, watch the other voters instead. No, really! Here's the quote: "You don't have to vote, don't worry about voting. The voting, we got plenty of votes."

There was a lot of Trump legal news this week, so we're just going to whip through it all as quickly as possible....

In Trump's January 6th federal case, Team Trump filed a number of motions at the last possible minute, in which his lawyers argue that he shouldn't have to face any charges at all. Good luck with that one, guys!

The judge in the case temporarily lifted Trump's limited gag order, and Trump went right back to spouting abuse at all and sundry in the case. Because of course he did.

It has been reported (but not fully confirmed by his legal representative) that Mark Meadows has already flipped on Trump and testified to the January 6th federal grand jury. This is obviously a worrisome development for Trump.

In Georgia's January 6th case, the number of Trump's former lawyers who have flipped on him is now up to three. Earlier, Trump tried to distance himself from Sidney Powell, saying she was never his lawyer, but (as with most things Trump) "there's a tweet for that," of him welcoming her to his legal team. This week, it was Jenna Ellis who pleaded guilty and flipped on Trump. She read a tearful statement in court where she essentially threw Rudy Giuliani under the bus:

I relied on others, including lawyers with many more years of experience than I, to provide me with true and reliable information, especially since my role involved speaking to the media and to legislators in various states. What I did not do, but should have done, your honor, was to make sure that the facts the other lawyers alleged to be true were, in fact, true. In the frenetic pace of attempting to raise challenges to the election in several states including Georgia, I failed to do my due diligence.

The internet was not impressed with her crocodile tears, it should be noted.

Ellis was involved in the whole "fake electors" scheme, right along with Rudy. She played a central role and will likely have all sorts of interesting things to say when we see her on the witness stand, since she attended many of the key meetings with Trump.

It was also reported that the prosecutor in the Georgia case is in discussions with six other Trump co-defendants for possible plea deals. For those keeping score at home, we now stand at: 4 flipped, 14 left to go. The only real question is: "Which Trump lawyer will flip next?", which we have to say is an enjoyable game to play.

In Trump's New York fraud trial, we finally got the big showdown between Trump and Michael Cohen. Cohen was Trump's "fixer" and they've both long since thrown each other under their respective buses. This was the first time in five years the two have been in the same room, and Trump was as petulant as ever. First he made some snarky comments to reporters in the hall, then the judge hauled Trump onto the witness stand himself to explain them (since they were interpreted as Trump ripping into the court clerk again). Trump swore he was actually talking about Cohen, the judge flat-out did not buy it, and promptly fined Trump another $10,000 for violating his gag order, again.

Soon after this, Trump got especially worked up about something Cohen testified to, stood up and stormed out of the courtroom so fast the Secret Service agents had to run after him.

Today's development in the case: Ivanka Trump will be compelled to testify.

The most ironic development in the case came earlier in the week, however, when Trump's lawyers tried to get the trial delayed because some people in the prosecutor's office had come down with COVID. The lawyer making the complaint said he was sitting further away from the prosecution table in fear -- but as the judge noted no one on Trump's team was wearing a mask, even though the court had made them available.

And finally, hearings are soon going to begin in both Colorado and Minnesota in cases where people are challenging (on Fourteenth Amendment grounds) Trump's right to be on the presidential ballot. It is good to see this happening this early, because one of these cases is almost guaranteed to wind up before the Supreme Court -- and the sooner the better, no matter how the court rules. This is an issue that really needs to be worked out long before the voting begins.

In other news, the war in Israel and Gaza is stepping up, and a gunman killed 18 people in Maine, making it the deadliest mass shooting of the year (to date). Also, the United Auto Workers seems to have reached an agreement with Ford to end the strike, so that's a positive development.

And we saved some other good news for the end. In Ohio, there are two ballot measures being voted on this year, one that would legalize abortion (restoring the protections of Roe) and one that would legalize recreational marijuana. Perhaps because of this, early voting returns in Democratic areas seem to be way up. This isn't a perfect measure of the outcome of the vote of course, but it is certainly a positive sign.


Most Impressive Democrat Of The Week

Right out of the chute in the House of Representatives, several motions have been filed that (due to parliamentary rules) will come up for a vote whether the new speaker approves or not. There's one trying to expel Representative George Santos from the House (for being a con man) that was introduced by his fellow New York Republicans. This'll be fun for Democrats to vote on, but the bar's pretty high -- it would need a two-thirds vote of the House to kick him out. And while most Republicans are completely embarrassed by Santos they still need his vote because of their razor-thin margin.

Then there's a motion to censure Representative Rashida Tlaib for "antisemitic activity, sympathizing with terrorist organizations and leading an insurrection at the United States Capitol Complex." This was in response to Tlaib's comments on the Israel-Hamas war, but the motion was filed by none other than Marjorie "Jewish Space Lasers" Taylor Greene.

So Democrats filed their own motion to censure Greene, since Greene is hardly on the moral high road when it comes to hateful comments.

The resolution was read by Representative Becca Balint of Vermont and it is almost twelve minutes of a scathing list of all the times when Greene has "repeatedly fanned the flames of racism, antisemitism, L.G.B.T.Q. hate speech, Islamophobia, anti-Asian hate, xenophobia, and other forms of hatred."

Watching all 11 minutes and 40 seconds of it is exhausting, but it is also pretty riveting. Balint reads all the "Whereas" clauses with barely-controlled contempt in her voice, which struck us as exactly the right tone for listing all the bile Greene has spilled in her short time on the national stage. We strongly encourage everyone to at least listen to any random 30 seconds of her censure resolution, just to remind everyone precisely how vile Marjorie Taylor Greene truly is.

For compiling this exhaustive list of "receipts," for writing it out as a censure resolution, and most especially for reading it out with naked contempt, Representative Becca Balint is without a doubt our Most Impressive Democrat Of The Week this week.

[Congratulate Representative Becca Balint on her House contact page, to let her know you appreciate her efforts.]


Most Disappointing Democrat Of The Week

Representative Jamaal Bowman pleaded guilty this week to a misdemeanor for pulling a fire alarm during the last government shutdown fight. He'll pay a $1,000 fine and do three months of probation. But this really only rises to the level of a (Dis-)Honorable Mention this week.

Because Representative Dean Phillips ("Dean Who?") has now filed paperwork to run in the Democratic presidential primary in New Hampshire. Why? We have no idea. Does he think he has a chance of winning the nomination? No, he does not. Is this a vanity project or some sort of political theater? Probably.

Whatever his reasons, one thing is clear: Dean Phillips is the Most Disappointing Democrat Of The Week for challenging a sitting president that he's voted with 100 percent of the time.

[Contact Representative Dean Phillips on his House contact page, to let him know what you think of his actions.]


Friday Talking Points

Volume 728 (10/27/23)

It was mostly a one-subject week, so most of these are parting shots at the whole speaker circus in the House. Enjoy, and as always, use responsibly!


   So is it poop or puke? I'm confused.

When Republicans actually admit how dysfunctional they are, feel free to repeat it.

"During the whole mean-girls slap-fight over which Republican will be speaker of the House, Representative Bill Huizenga probably had the most colorful way of describing the madness. He urged his fellow House Republicans to, 'get our poop in a group, people,' and then went on to beg them: 'I don't want us to go out there and, in front of the entire world, puke on our shoes again.' So my question for Huizenga, now that they have elected a speaker -- is Mike Johnson a pile of poop or just some puke on your shoes? I'm a little confused, sorry...."


   Sports metaphors, anyone?

Of course, some Republicans fell back on sports to explain what was going on.

"During the speaker election chaos, some Republicans went for sports metaphors. Dan Crenshaw, who hails from the Houston area, concluded: 'I told people there would be problems if the Rangers won, and that's exactly what happened.' Mike Gallagher of Wisconsin had his own down-home metaphor: 'As the Republican representative from Green Bay, it pains me to ask this question, but I'm not sure who sucks at team sports more right now -- the Packers or the House Republicans.' At this point it's only a matter of time before some New York Republican chimes in with a comment about the 1962 Mets, which would seem to fit better."


   MAGA Mike

This is one of those things that both sides are using for their own political purposes. Matt Gaetz and other Republicans have embraced the term, but so has the Biden campaign:

MAGA Mike Johnson's ascension to the speakership cements the extreme MAGA takeover of the House Republican Conference. Now, Donald Trump has his loyal foot soldier to ban abortion nationwide, lead efforts to deny free and fair election results, gut Social Security and Medicare, and advance the extreme MAGA agenda at the expense of middle-class families.


   More polite, but just as bad

Johnson's mild-mannered Clark Kent persona needs some context.

"The only positive thing I can say about Mike Johnson is that he is not Jim Jordan. Having Jordan be speaker would have been excruciating all around, and Johnson isn't anywhere near as personally obnoxious. But make no mistake, he's just as far out on the rightwing fringe as Jordan and all the rest of the Chaos Caucus. He's still fighting the battle against gay marriage, for instance. He was at the center of the effort to overturn the 2020 election in the House. He is in favor of banning all abortions nationwide. He has voted against funding Ukraine's war effort. His positions are somewhere to the right of Attila the Hun, in fact. Just because he doesn't speak in an unending rapid-fire stream of biliousness doesn't make him any sort of establishment Republican. He's more polite than Jordan, that is true, but he is equally as dangerous in his ideology."


   Bets? Anyone?

This is just rubbing salt in the wound, but hey, why not?

"I really think someone should start a betting pool on how long Mike Johnson will last as speaker. How long can he last in his caucus of 2-year-olds throwing tantrums for the rightwing media? Until the end of the year? Whenever the budget gets passed? Maybe before Thanksgiving? Someone really should be taking bets...."


   No recession in sight

The media really needs to end this nonsense.

"For roughly the past year, the media has been endlessly trying to scare Americans by predicting an imminent recession -- probably right around the corner! Ahhh! Everybody run!!! This has proven to be abject nonsense, and I am waiting for the media to issue a gigantic apology, but I am not holding my breath. Last quarter, the economy grew by a whopping 4.9 percent and unemployment remains at historic lows. Joe Biden has seen over 14 million jobs created during his term -- more than any other American president ever. So like I said, I am still waiting for an apology from the media for constantly engaging in all the 'When will the recession start?' fearmongering for the past year."


   This just in...

(With, as always, a nod to the dawn of "Weekend Update" on Saturday Night Live.)

"This just in... Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas is still corrupt. A friend essentially gave him a quarter-million-dollar recreational vehicle for free, and Thomas somehow forgot to report it either on his ethics statement and/or possibly on his income taxes. One of the highest judges in the land is blatantly for sale to the highest bidder, and yet the Supreme Court still hasn't done a thing about it. They refuse to institute their own ethics code even though they have a problem as big as a luxury bus-sized R.V. How many more revelations is it going to take? How many more times are we going to get the news: 'This just in... Supreme Court Clarence Thomas is corrupt'?"

-- Chris Weigant


Follow Chris on Twitter: @ChrisWeigant

Cross-posted at: Democratic Underground


3 Comments on “Friday Talking Points -- Republicans Get Their 'Poop In A Group'”

  1. [1] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:

    [TP 5]

    This is just rubbing salt in the wound, but hey, why not?
    "I really think someone should start a betting pool on how long Mike Johnson will last as speaker. How long can he last in his caucus of 2-year-olds throwing tantrums for the rightwing media? Until the end of the year? Whenever the budget gets passed? Maybe before Thanksgiving? Someone really should be taking bets...."

    I’m your Huckleberry. That is, I’m taking bets! McPuss —er, McCarthy lasted 269 days as Speaker and I’ll bet a $100 contribution to CW that this Christofacist troglodyte won’t last 268 days as Speaker. C’mon folks y’all should jump on this, right?

  2. [2] 
    dsws wrote:

    I'm not into betting qua betting. But if I were running a business that needed to lobby Congress, I would go on the assumption that he'll be there indefinitely.

  3. [3] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    I'm with Dan on this one. The maga crowd got one of their own installed as speaker, while the rest probably won't be embarrassed by open Mike's demeanor, so it's unlikely anyone in the Republican conference believes another dumpster fire will yield something they like better.

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