18 MONTEREY COUNTY WEEKLY october 26-November 1, 2023 www.montereycountyweekly.com House of Chaos Three weeks after Kevin McCarthy’s ouster as Speaker of the House, chaos ensues. By Chris Lehmann FORUM No, not Jim Jordan either. A chaos-ridden House Republican caucus tried to pull itself together to elect the shouty, coup-plotting chair of the Judiciary Committee its new speaker after he came up 20 votes short. The net result of their efforts was that Jordan got two more “no” votes from Republican House members. If he was banking on the second vote to showcase his knack for persuasion, legislative bargaining, and vote counting—all indispensable skills for a House speaker—Jordan can be deemed a failure. This was a rare step back from the abyss for House Republicans, given that Jordan is the moral equivalent of a Superfund site. The Ohio congressman not only was in close strategic contact with Trump administration Chief of Staff Mark Meadows in the calamitous countdown to the MAGA insurrection on January 6; he has also defied his subpoena from the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack for over a year. He’s been an obliging outlet for high-conspiratorial Trumpist outrage. Putting Jordan in a position to dictate the nation’s budgets, policy priorities and committee assignments—all while being second in line, after the vice president, to the presidency—would be an act of extreme nihilism. But as his second failed vote demonstrated, Jordan’s saving grace is his utter ineffectualness. During his 16-year tenure in the House, he’s failed to get a single bill ratified. His behind-the-scenes efforts to flip detractors underlined his trademark bullying-and-berating MO. Iowa GOP Representative Marinette Miller-Meeks issued a statement reporting that after she’d joined the nays on Jordan’s second speakership vote, casting a ballot for Appropriations Chair Kay Granger of Texas when it was clear Jordan wasn’t going to win a majority within the caucus, she “received credible death threats and a barrage of threatening calls,” which she duly reported to “the proper authorities.” Meanwhile the government is rapidly careening toward the next deadline for a budget deal, and it’s far from clear at the moment who might have the authority to reach another such accord. (McCarthy, in his desperation to keep his job, sought to blame Democrats for the raging dysfunction of his caucus in September’s budget negotiations, which proved to be no small factor in his implosion—it’s a safe bet that a GOP caucus unable to identify a viable McCarthy successor won’t be able to float that alibi again.) The latest nominee to emerge from the chaotic field, Rep. Tom Emmer of Minnesota, backed out of the running on Oct. 24. It seems McCarthy’s endorsement was doing him no favors. Meanwhile, Republicans had floated temporary speaker Patrick McHenry of North Carolina as an option. McHenry does have one undeniable qualification to lead the House Republican Party: He’s been bitten by a rabid fox and lived to tell the tale. Chris Lehmann is the D.C. Bureau chief for The Nation and a contributing editor at The Baffler. OPINION [Jim] Jordan’s saving grace is his utter ineffectualness. PRESENTED BY