When Mike Johnson first became Speaker of the House, people were “sounding the alarm” left and right about how dangerously powerful he was. While he’s certainly an unhinged far right extremist in an inappropriately high ranking position, the reality is that his party picked him for the job specifically because he’s a nobody with no influence. Each faction of the Republican House wanted someone it could walk all over as needed, and Johnson was their (fraction of a) man for that.
Sure enough, House Republicans are now proceeding to walk all over Mike Johnson. Earlier this week eight House Republicans decided that impeaching DHS Secretary Mayorkas was a bad strategic move, so they blocked it from happening. Then on Tuesday, a different group of House Republicans – the ones who are afraid that a shutdown would cost them their vulnerable seats – forced Johnson to hand the Democrats most of what they wanted with a continuing resolution to keep the government open.
What we’re seeing, again and again, is that what Mike Johnson wants doesn’t matter. He’s not running the House. He’s a powerless caretaker who keeps getting overruled by small factions of his own Republican House. He came into this job with zero leverage or political capital, and we’re seeing him getting his wings clipped already.
The day that Mike Johnson became Speaker, I wrote that he wasn’t the danger. The danger was that, as a result of him having no control over the warring factions within the Republican House, those factions would each run around doing whatever they wanted. In that sense, we don’t know what these clowns will do next. But we do know that Mike Johnson has already proven to be as much of a pushover as the various House Republican factions were hoping when they settled on him.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report