What’s worse than chaos? How about a power vacuum? All the beautiful people are bewailing the ouster of Kevin McCarthy as speaker of the House yesterday because it is supposedly “thrusting the House into chaos.”
Right on cue we have the New York Times skirling that “Far-Right GOP Faction Throws House Into Chaos.” Cant watchers: notice the deployment of the term “far-right” as an intensifier. Not only chaos but chaos from a source the Times can get away with castigating as far right. (Extra credit: would the Times describe a dramatic action by the Squad as “far left”? If not, why not?)
On November 2, 1963, a CIA-instigated coup sparked the assassination of Vietnam president Ngô Đình Diệm. The trouble was, they had no one with whom to replace Diem. The results were not edifying.
How about Matt Gaetz and his seven Republicans who joined with 208 Democrats to vote to vacate the speakership? It was an unprecedented action. Never before had the Speakership been vacated by vote (though there have been a few attempts). Have they a successor in mind? House Majority Leader Steve Scalise is said to be angling for the job — and good on him if he succeeds.
If we’re talking about chaos, however, my favorite candidates whose names have been mentioned so far are Donald Trump and former House Intelligence Committee chair Devin Nunes. One needn’t be a representative to qualify for the job, and the ensuing spectacle should either be tapped would certainly be entertaining.
But let’s leave that delicious if improbable fantasy to one side. What hath Matt Gaetz wrought by tipping over the apple cart of House “leadership” and “stability?” His chief complaints were that McCarthy was making “secret side deals” with the Biden administration to fund the Ukrainian war and, more generally, that McCarthy perpetuated an irresponsible funding regime whereby the House conducted its business by “omnibus” continuing resolutions rather than formulating a budget in which legislators could say yea or nay to specific line items. (Fun fact, Congress hasn’t passed a budget in twenty-seven years.)
I think there is a lot to what Gaetz had to say.
Yes, the specifics of his complaints against McCarthy are getting little play, which tells you something.