Now that House Republicans have won a narrow House majority, they’re doing what they do best: making threats in an effort to look tough. More specifically, they’re threatening to do some corrupt and evil things that are unrealistic, unlikely, and in some cases literally impossible. But that’s the point.
There’s a reason an extremist like Marjorie Taylor Greene is pushing for a weakling like Kevin McCarthy to be Speaker: she knows that McCarthy is the only Speaker candidate that House Republicans even have a chance of uniting behind. If she and the other extremists can’t come together to deliver 218 votes for McCarthy, then the Speaker of the House will likely end up being some moderate compromise candidate – or the Speaker position will embarrassingly sit empty indefinitely.
Either way, without McCarthy as Speaker, the House Republican caucus will have no majority power, which would mean no ability to take over and abuse House committees, no ability to issue subpoenas, and so on. Yet in spite of Greene’s efforts, as of this moment McCarthy has lost more House Republican votes than he can afford to lose. This means he’ll need to change some minds in order to become Speaker. That might still happen. But even if it does, much of what House Republicans are threatening to do will still be impossible.
If these House Republicans can elect a Speaker, then yes, they’ll have control over House committees and will be able to begin their sham “investigations” into Hunter Biden and such. But that’ll all be for show, just to pander to their extremist base, and won’t actually help their party’s 2024 odds.
More to the point, there are a number of things House Republicans can’t do no matter what. For instance, they keep threatening to simply “defund” the DOJ and Special Counsel Jack Smith. Greene is going as far as citing some 150 year old precedent for doing so. But as one might have guessed, Greene is just making things up, and the House simply does not have the power to defund the Special Counsel investigation.
So why are House Republicans making threats they know aren’t even possible? Because they know that major news outlets will inaccurately and irresponsibly put those threats into scary-sounding headlines, so people will click on it. This in turn allows House Republicans to look powerful and tough, which is how villains derive most of their leverage. House Republicans think that if they can scare us into believing that they can just magically help Donald Trump go free, we’ll give up and stop putting in the activist work on our end, which will make House Republicans’ lives easier.
As always, our job is to not fall for it. If you assume that every scary-sounding House Republican threat is real and sit around fretting about it, that’s not “vigilance” – it’s gullibility. Our job is to collectively laugh in House Republicans’ faces each time they try to convince us they can magically do things that aren’t even really things. We’re talking about a bunch of inept clowns who haven’t even figured out how to elect a Speaker. Our job is to mock them for the next two years, as loudly and relentlessly as possible, so they’re widely seen as the punchline that they are.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report