“Saturday Night Live” is hardly my go-to source for political commentary, but the satirical show nailed it last weekend when it skewered Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) for his epic failure to become the U.S. House speaker.
“How did I lose? This is chaos. Some of us are here to actually serve the American people,” the comedian playing Jordan lamented. “All I want to do is get Congress back to work so I can shut it down again.”
When the House GOP desperately tried to elect a speaker and nominated Judiciary Committee Chairman Jordan — who hasn’t passed a bill he’s introduced during his entire 16 years in Congress — it signaled some Republicans don’t care if the federal government crashes and burns. Maybe that’s their goal.
Under Republican leadership for less than a year, the House is a dysfunctional disaster, so decimated by party in-fighting it hasn’t been able to elect a leader in three weeks. It takes a presiding officer to function and vote on anything besides a new speaker, so the chamber is paralyzed.
Thanks to concessions former Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-California) made in January to get elected on the 15th ballot, it only took one far-right kook, Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Florida), to call for his head and seven other hardline Republicans to oust him. (Democrats in the House also voted for McCarthy’s removal.)
Anyone who truly thinks Jordan’s doomed quest was motivated by his desire to govern is delusional.
I don’t believe U.S. Rep. Harriet Hageman (R-Wyoming) falls into that category, though she cast three consecutive votes for Jordan and showed no sign of abandoning him.
Hageman knows exactly what Jordan brings to the table. As speaker, Jordan would have had complete control of the impeachment machinery. As disciples of former President Donald Trump, there is no one higher on Jordan and Hageman’s hit list than President Joe Biden.
Hageman told Breitbart News that Jordan is “laser-focused” on pushing the investigations of Biden, his son Hunter and other relatives. The probes, she added, are essential “to take our government back.” From whom? In these contentious times, the GOP is at war from within.
Since Trump hand-picked her to run against then-U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyoming), Hageman hasn’t wavered in her false claim that the 2020 presidential election was “rigged” against Trump.
The Judiciary’s Select Committee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government — a subcommittee set up by Republicans to probe claims that the Department of Justice and other federal agencies are biased against conservatives — hasn’t found any credible evidence of an impeachable offense by the president. But that doesn’t matter — it’s all just a show to help Trump’s election bid.
Jordan’s sole role in D.C. has been to agitate Democrats and unfriendly members of his own party, using any dirty tactics he can get away with. He’s like a hockey “goon” with few skills except fighting and intimidating opponents.
The totality of Jordan’s shady support of Trump’s attempt to overturn Biden’s legitimate victory has never been fully revealed, despite the efforts of the House Jan. 6 committee. But the panel called Jordan “a significant player,” noting his close contact with Trump and his cronies before, during, and after the failed coup. Jordan refused to honor the committee’s subpoena to appear.
After rioters trashed the Capitol and sent lawmakers running for their lives, Jordan returned that night and still voted to object to Biden’s win. Five days later, Trump presented Jordan with the Medal of Freedom. No other recipient, not even Rush Limbaugh, has done more to diminish that presidential honor.
In their book “I Alone Can Fix It,” two Washington Post reporters wrote about an exchange between Cheney and Jordan during the Jan. 6 melee. Cheney first recounted the incident to Mark Milley, the former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and has confirmed the account.
“When these maniacs are going through the place, I’m standing in the aisle and [Jordan] said, ‘We need to get the ladies away from the aisle. Let me help you,’” she told Milley. “I smacked his hand away and told him, ‘Get away from me. You f—ing did this.’”
Hageman is an unabashed fan of Jordan, serving with him on Judiciary and the “weaponization” committees. She’s been an aggressive inquisitor in Jordan’s mold, using the same bullying of witnesses that’s become his trademark.
But often what Hageman says is plain silly. During a May hearing, she referenced the piercing evil eye from J.R. R. Tolkien’s “The Lord of the Rings” series to describe the FBI.
“The Eye of Sauron has turned inward, and it is operating with a white-hot intensity that seeks to destroy everything in its path,” she said. Even Jordan should laugh at that one.
Speaking of destruction, Jordan’s failure to become speaker means the terrible possibility he’d lead the House to shut down the federal government has been avoided. But the issue will be in the hands of a new speaker, provided one is chosen before the Nov. 17 expiration of a stopgap continuing resolution to keep the government open.
Jordan, who claimed he had a compromise plan, couldn’t be trusted to implement it. Mainstream Republicans, including some of the 25 who voted against him, didn’t believe it, in part because Jordan voted against McCarthy’s bipartisan deal with the Senate and Biden in September.
Jordan was an architect of the 2013 shutdown over former President Barack Obama’s Medicare reforms, and he backed the 2018 shutdown over lack of funding for Trump’s border wall.
Hageman followed Jordan’s lead by voting against the compromise. Her mentor’s power is greatly diminished, but Trump is still salivating over a shut down to hurt Biden. She won’t antagonize Trump, no matter how much he’s spiraling out of control. But she knows closing federal agencies in the state would harm Wyoming.
“Keeping the government open is the right thing to do for Wyoming,” Wyoming’s U.S. Sens. John Barrasso and Cynthia Lummis said in a joint statement earlier this fall. “This legislation bridges the gap to pay for our troops and keeps our national parks open.”
The parks provide significant tourism dollars. A Sept. 25 White House report estimated nearly 7,500 Wyomingites who rely on food stamps could be at risk of losing their benefits. Hageman should care.
Hageman claims she wants to “rein in this bloated government.” But increasing the national debt is never something the GOP worries about when it’s in control of the White House.
Last Friday, the U.S. Treasury Department reported the national debt increased $10 trillion from tax cuts for corporations and the extremely wealthy during former President George W. Bush’s and Trump’s administrations. Where’s the Republican outrage?
It didn’t help Jordan’s cause that some supporters made death threats against several GOP holdouts who blocked his speakership. Jordan condemned the “abhorrent” behavior, but it continued. Rep. Don Bacon (R-Nebraska), a centrist, told the Associated Press the barrage of profane text messages and phone calls led his wife to sleep with a loaded gun near her bedside.
If the GOP elects a speaker who is up to the job, averts a government shutdown and actually has a political agenda besides impeaching Biden, it might close the books on this humiliating debacle and have a chance to maintain House control in the next election.
If not, Republicans’ best hope rests on the short memory of voters, who may well forget who caused this mess. If no one else reminds people who’s to blame, maybe the humor of “infotainment” shows can help set the record straight.
As SNL’s “Donald Trump” told Jordan, “You can’t give up, because this is America, the most beautiful country in the world, filled with some terrible people, some awful people, some of the worst people we’ve ever seen, but we love it.”