To the surprise of absolutely nobody with a functioning intellect, House Republicans have finally solved their leadership crisis by replacing an election-subverting Trump butt-kisser (Kevin McCarthy) with an election-subverting Trump butt-kissing Christian nationalist backbencher with no leadership experience who says that his abhorrent policy views in the secular realm are dictated by God in the religious realm.
Just what we need running the House: An evangelical fanatic who touts the blessing of a felonious criminal defendant who was fined $10,000 for contempt of court. A guy who formerly ranked 213th in House seniority is now second in line to the presidency. Every time we think we’ve hit bottom in this benighted nation, another cellar trap door creaks open.
Mike Johnson (who?), the new House Speaker (what?) sayeth this: “My faith informs everything I do,” everything from his desire for a national abortion ban to his lust for national criminalization of “inherently unnatural” gay sex. This farce is surely prompting Constitution author James Madison to spin 360 degrees – given his fervent support, in an 1819 letter, for “the total separation of the Church from the State,” and his 1788 statement defending the nation’s founding document: “There is not a shadow of right in the general government to intermeddle with religion. Its least interference with it would be a most flagrant usurpation.”
But what else should we have expected from the MAGA cultists and their fellow travelers? Even the so-called moderates who hail from blue districts fell into line for a theocrat who in a podcast last month put a topsy-turvy spin on our nation’s core principles and dissed Madison to the max: “The founders wanted to protect the church from an encroaching state, not the other way around. If anybody tries to convince you that your biblical beliefs or your religious viewpoint needs to separated from public affairs, you should politely remind them to review their history.”
I reviewed it. Johnson is wrong and dangerous. God has apparently texted unto him that “homosexual marriage is the dark harbinger of chaos and sexual anarchy that could doom even the strongest republic,” and therefore gay marriages as sanctioned by the Supreme Court and federal law shall thusly be overturned.
God has apparently texted unto him that the Supreme Court’s precedents separating church and state (rulings that go back 76 years) run afoul of the Bible. God also apparently believes that the fight for freedom in Ukraine isn’t worth financing with American bucks, because Johnson has twice voted no.
Oh, and you’ve heard about the latest mass shooting, this time in Maine? Johnson said “prayer is appropriate in a time like this,” because of course. That’s better than voting for gun safety laws, which Johnson won’t do.
God has also apparently decreed unto him that he shall continue to preach the fascist lie that the 2020 election was stolen. Indeed he was a key saboteur, goading 125 of his House colleagues to sign an amicus brief to the Supreme Court, supporting a baseless lawsuit that sought to throw out the election results in Pennsylvania and other key battleground states. He said that his refusal to certify Joe Biden’s victory was based on “God’s discernment.” And besides, God had apparently informed him that Venezuela elected Biden, because he recited that lunatic lie in a radio interview: “When you have (fraud) on a grand scale, when you have, you know, a software system that is used all around the country that is suspect because it came from Hugo Chavez’s Venezuela…it begs to be investigated.”
Bottom line: This guy is basically Jim Jordan in a suit coat – a seditionist with a smile and a splash of biblical fervor.
The big question, of course, is whether God’s humble servant will wreck the House and make us even more of a laughingstock on the world stage at a time when our allies need us most – and render us even more ineffectual at home, with another government shutdown on the horizon. Granted, Johnson is checked and balanced by a Democratic president, a Democratic Senate, and his House majority is tiny thanks to the non-existent red wave in the ’22 midterms, but one lunatic chamber can wreak great havoc thanks to the separation of powers.
Rich Lowry, a veteran conservative commentator, says that Johnson’s tenure (assuming it lasts) might be rocky: “How to hold together the various factions that are inevitably part of a majority coalition? This isn’t easy, and gets much harder if members care more about their primetime cable hit than making any responsible contribution, even in opposition to the leadership… The chaos of the last few weeks may make it a little more likely that they are eventually relieved of the burden of being part of a majority next November.”
Perhaps – but only if voters pay sufficient attention. Are they?
Copyright 2023 Dick Polman, distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate.
Dick Polman, a veteran national political columnist based in Philadelphia and a Writer in Residence at the University of Pennsylvania, writes at DickPolman.net. Email him at [email protected]