M.T.G. (Full Of Sound And Fury) Promises M.T.V.

[ Posted Wednesday, May 1st, 2024 – 16:01 UTC ]

So here we go again. Is the threat real, or it is just some furious grandstanding? When dealing with the likes of Marjorie Taylor Greene, it's always impossible to tell....

Representative Greene gave a little press conference this morning where she threatened to make good on her "motion to vacate the chair"... next week. In case you haven't been following this particular soap opera, here's where things stand as of now:

M.T.G. has been threatening to force the House of Representatives to hold a no-confidence vote on Speaker Mike Johnson, pretty much ever since he took office. Johnson, upon taking the speakership, was in far too weak of a position within his own caucus to demand a change to the rule that the previous Republican speaker (Kevin McCarthy) had rashly agreed to -- which states that any one member can force the House to hold such an "M.T.V." vote at any time. As we saw last year, when McCarthy was ousted (the first speaker in U.S. history to ever be deposed), this is no idle threat. Greene has used this threat as her own personal Sword of Damocles to threaten Johnson not to do anything she didn't want him to do. Which is mostly: "getting anything at all actually done in the House -- especially if it involves Democrats." Johnson has actually bowed to reality (or, to put it another way: "done a responsible leadership job in a divided Congress") several times now, to avoid disaster on must-pass bills. He has incurred the wrath of Greene each time. A month and a half ago, when Johnson passed the budget bills with Democratic help, Greene actually did file a motion-to-vacate measure. But she did so in a parliamentary way that didn't actually force the vote. So it has just sat there dormant until now.

Johnson recently passed a huge foreign aid bill (in four parts) that, once again, had to pass with a large number of Democratic votes. He had dithered on this bill for half a year, but things were getting critical in Ukraine so Johnson was finally forced to act. Once again, this enraged M.T.G.

Since then, the House has been on vacation and has just returned this week. So all eyes were on M.T.G. to see what she'd do -- would she pull the trigger and file the motion as "privileged" (which means it must be voted on within two days), or would she essentially back down? In today's presser, Greene promised she will indeed be forging ahead and forcing the vote at some point next week. She explained the further wait the same way she explained why she didn't force the vote before the vacation -- she's giving Johnson plenty of time to decide to fall on his own sword and resign his speakership voluntarily. But what might be playing into her timing is the fact that a Democrat just won a House special election and will be sworn in next week -- which will reduce the Republican majority to only a one-vote margin once again. Greene already has two other GOP members who are backing her M.T.V., so this would normally be enough to depose Johnson.

This is where things get truly weird. Johnson is brushing off the threat and essentially ignoring M.T.G., which is sure to annoy her even more. He even gave a very Southern (Johnson is from Louisiana) insult today when asked about M.T.G.'s presser: "Bless her heart" (if you don't understand how scathing a putdown this is for a Southerner, ask someone from the South to explain it to you). Johnson has the luxury of doing so for a rather unprecedented reason.

In the previous ouster of McCarthy, some Republicans tried to (quite laughably) assign all the blame for the fiasco to Democrats. They had a stock line for this spin: "Only eight Republicans voted to depose McCarthy, but all the Democrats voted for it!" Um, well, yeah... opposition party members never vote to support a speaker not from their party, so this wasn't unusual in any way -- and the full amount of blame did indeed belong to the dysfunctional GOP caucus.

But this time around, Democrats (enough of them, at any rate) have already stated that they will vote to allow Johnson to keep his job. This is simply unprecedented, but then again so was deposing the first speaker in history. Democrats will be voting to "table the motion," which is a fancy way of saying: "Eh... let's not even hold an official vote on this nonsense... we've got better things to do with our time." With Democrats providing this backstop, it simply doesn't matter how many Republicans actually vote to move the M.T.V. forward -- it will fail before it even gets a real floor vote, because a greater number of Democrats will vote to table the motion.

This may sound odd, especially considering that most of the must-pass bills have already passed and Congress could really just sort of coast along until the end of the year without doing much of anything. So why wouldn't Democrats sit back and allow yet another circular firing squad to happen in the Republican majority? It took them almost a month to choose a new speaker last time, and chances are it would be just as drawn-out and bitter of a fight this time around. With an election looming, why wouldn't Democrats just point out to the voters: "See? This is what you get when you put Republicans in charge of anything -- absolute chaos!" and use the whole thing as a political blunt object?

In this case, the Democrats are making a political calculation that the devil they know is probably going to be better than any replacement devil the GOP elects (so to speak). Johnson is an incredibly hardcore conservative (make no mistake about it), but he has indeed grown into the job in a way very few expected. He has given free rein to the crazies within his own party... but only up to a point. When he reaches that point, however -- which might be defined as "the absolute last possible moment imaginable" -- then he does indeed bow to the reality that both the Senate and the Oval Office are in Democratic hands. He allows the bills which must pass to go through, even when he has to heavily rely on Democratic votes to do so. Because he needs the Democrats, he doesn't lard up these bills with conservative poison-pill deal-killers. And he (usually) isn't a total jerk to Democrats in general (something that sets him apart from how McCarthy regularly operated). In other words, no matter how conservative he may be, Johnson is actually an opposition speaker Democrats can work with (up to a point).

If Johnson is deposed, who would replace him? Remember the last intraparty free-for-all no-holds-barred cage match to elect Johnson? Out of that chaos, anyone could emerge. And they'd probably wind up being worse than Johnson. So some Democrats are going to reluctantly hold their noses and vote to allow Johnson to stay where he is.

Hakeem Jeffries, by announcing this yesterday, absolutely stole M.T.G.'s thunder. He rained all over her parade (for some reason we seem to be stuck on weather metaphors, sorry...). With Democratic backing, it does not matter what Greene now does -- it is guaranteed to fail. All she can do is add bitterness and resentment to the leader of her own party's caucus in her chamber, which weakens not only him but also House Republicans in general. Which is all fine with Democrats, it should be noted. Which is why we'll end our review of Marjorie Taylor Greene's actions with a much more professional metaphor, straight from Shakespeare's Macbeth:

Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow,

Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,

To the last syllable of recorded time;

And all our yesterdays have lighted fools

The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!

Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player,

That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,

And then is heard no more. It is a tale

Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,

Signifying nothing.

-- Chris Weigant


Follow Chris on Twitter: @ChrisWeigant


6 Comments on “M.T.G. (Full Of Sound And Fury) Promises M.T.V.”

  1. [1] 
    dsws wrote:

    There are no neo-Nazi units in the US Army, but there probably would be if we had to mobilize against an invasion by an enemy with more than twice our population.

  2. [2] 
    dsws wrote:

    Democrats in the House absolutely should vote to let Johnson keep the gavel. I think they can do it on a procedural vote: MTG can move to vacate the chair, but the House can vote on whether to take up the motion. Of course the entire Democratic caucus would prefer to have Jeffries as speaker over Johnson, but they at least ought to prefer Johnson (for the moment, anyway) over having the chamber go through another round of electile dysfunction.

  3. [3] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:

    I think Johnson has been channeling his inner Mitch McConnell and he is far better at being Speaker than I expected.

    Dems helping out in this matter marginalizes the Repug Chaos Caucus and that’s important.

  4. [4] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:

    Elizabeth wrote,

    He [Biden]made a public statement that Ukraine's eventual membership in NATO was off the negotiating table in the months before the invasion and, in so doing, made sure we would never find out if the invasion could have been prevented if Ukraine's neutrality had been up for negotiation, as even Zelensky was willing to do, early on.

    Do you believe that Joe doing the opposite — NOT taking NATO membership off the table is what Joe did wrong?

  5. [5] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    You've gone to plaid

  6. [6] 
    Kick wrote:


    You've gone to plaid

    Ludicrous speed :)

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