June 19, 2024
All that flailing around over selecting a leader was due, in part, to Trump’s lack of enthusiasm for logical candidates

That House speaker mess was all Donald Trump’s fault. Yeah, yeah, I know you’re not going to argue with me if I blame him for something bad. (“Saturday night’s block party was canceled because of the threat of rain and … Donald Trump.”) Still, follow this thought.

The House Republicans are a rancorous crew, and they’ve got only a nine-member majority, one of the tightest in recent history. We’ve been hearing all week that a mere five rebels can halt progress on anything, even a basic task like electing a speaker. Interesting how narrow that majority is. Normally, in nonpresidential-election years, the party that didn’t win the White House gets a lift — often a huge one. Some voters are looking for balance, others are just kind of bored. Given the deeply nonelectric nature of Joe Biden’s victory, you’d figure the Republicans would have made a scary sweep in 2022.

But no — and one of the reasons was the completely loopy candidates running on Republican lines in districts that should have been up for grabs. Some had been hand-picked by Trump, like Bo Hines, a 28-year-old former college football star who moved into a North Carolina swing district a month before the May primary, won the nomination with the ex-president’s enthusiastic support and then, well, went down the drain.

Trump endorsed three candidates in tossup districts last year; all of them lost. Plus there were lots of other dreadful Trump-backed contenders on the ballots — like Mehmet Oz, the longtime New Jersey resident who ran a disastrous race for the Senate in Pennsylvania and almost certainly pulled down the rest of his party’s ticket.

POP QUIZ: Donald Trump, who’s facing 91 criminal charges around the country, is now on trial in New York for falsifying records to make himself look like a, um, non-failure in the real estate business. This week, he compared himself to a South African Nobel Peace Prize winner who served time in prison for his battles against apartheid. (“I don’t mind being Nelson Mandela, because I’m doing it for a reason.”) He’s also compared himself to:

A) Abraham Lincoln

B) Jesus

C) George Washington

D) The Mona Lisa

The answer is everybody but Jesus. And he did recently post a sketch on Truth Social showing Christ next to him in the courtroom.

All that flailing around over selecting a House speaker was due, in part, to the Republicans’ failure to corral their Flimsy Five around any of the original contenders. But it was also very, very much about Trump’s lack of enthusiasm for logical candidates like Tom Emmer, the House Republican whip, who’d made the dreaded mistake of voting to certify the results of the last presidential election.

“I have many wonderful friends wanting to be Speaker of the House, and some are truly great Warriors,” Trump declaimed. “RINO Tom Emmer, who I do not know well, is not one of them. He never respected the Power of a Trump Endorsement.”

RINO, of course, stands for Republican in Name Only, something Trump has truly hated ever since he registered as a Republican in Manhattan back in 1987. Until he registered with the Independence Party in 1999, followed by the Democratic Party in 2001. But hey, he became a Republican again in 2009, then dropped his party affiliation in 2011, and switched back to being a Republican in 2012. There is absolutely no reason to imagine he would ever switch again. Unless, you know, there was something in it for him.

Related Articles

Opinion Columnists |


DePetris: For U.S., deep concern about escalation of Israel-Hamas war

Opinion Columnists |


Borenstein: With U.S. House speaker fight over, the real chaos begins

Opinion Columnists |


Walters: California’s economic outlook worsens as Newsom travels overseas

Opinion Columnists |


Walters: California’s lagging schools should look to Pentagon’s model

Opinion Columnists |


Bouie: Millennials and Gen Z are tilting left and staying there

Mike Johnson of Louisiana, who finally won the speaker’s job, is exactly the kind of guy you’d expect to come up on top. Right-wing anti-abortion activist who gets along with his colleagues and who, crucially, has items in his résumé that won Trump’s heart. A former radio talk show host who helped lead the Republicans’ battle to overturn the election results! What could be more perfect?

“GET IT DONE, FAST! LOVE, DJT!” our ex-president posted on Truth Social.

(Earlier, once Emmer had crashed, Trump praised all the possible successors to the ousted Kevin McCarthy as “fine and very talented men.” Quick question: What’s missing in that description? One minor detail — the candidate swarm was notably lacking in female representation. Just saying.)

So the beat goes on. Mike Johnson’s friends are celebrating. Much of the rest of the nation is wondering why the heck anybody would ever want to be speaker of the House with its current crush of Republican crazies.

Welcome to your new job, Mike. Hope you enjoyed your big day. Just remember that it won’t be long before Congress has to pass another bill to keep the government operating or send the country teetering into disaster.

Details, details.

Gail Collins is a New York Times columnist.

>