Say congratulations to Republicans: They managed to elect a House speaker.
I joked Tuesday that the GOP would do just as well to ask random citizens at local bars to make a run for the House gavel.
After three weeks of abject chaos that culminated in Tom Emmer dropping his bid just four hours after winning the nomination, it seemed like any generic Tom Jones or Bill Smith stood as good a chance of uniting the farcically fractious caucus as any sitting Republican lawmaker.
In the end, it wasn’t Tom Jones. Or Bill Smith. Or Jack Wilson. Or John Doe. It was Mike Johnson.
Mike is a relative unknown, but as the New York Times was keen to point out, if you subject yourself to all 69 episodes of the podcast he hosts with his wife, you’ll meet “an evangelical Christian [who] talks at length about his vehement opposition to abortion rights, calls the Democratic agenda socialist and rails against the prosecution of [Donald] Trump for his efforts to interfere in the 2020 election.” He once called Roe “constitutional cover” for the “killing of unborn children.”
Johnson is an avowed election denier, and he served on Trump’s impeachment defense team in 2020, a role he described as critical to “defending our Constitutional order and the Democratic process itself.” On January 6, 2021, when pro-Trump rioters stormed the Capitol, Johnson joined with three-dozen Republicans in voting to sustain objections to state electors. Last month, Johnson cited “overwhelming facts” in expressing his support for what some legal experts have derided as a comically baseless impeachment inquiry into Joe Biden.
You get the idea. This is the man who’s now one catastrophe away from the Oval Office.
Trump, who took the witness stand in a New York fraud trial on Wednesday, was quick to praise Johnson. He’ll be a “GREAT ‘SPEAKER'” Trump declared, superfluous scare quotes and all. Matt Gaetz, during an interview with Steve Bannon, said the “move away from Kevin McCarthy to MAGA Mike Johnson shows the ascendance of this movement and where the power in the Republican Party truly lies.”
Johnson credited God with his unlikely ascent. He promised to “restore trust” in the House and said he plans to “advance a comprehensive conservative policy agenda” while fighting against what he described as “the harmful policies of the Biden administration.”
Before he gets to any of that, though, Johnson said he’ll quickly bring a resolution in support of Israel to the floor.
“From an outside point of view, these last few weeks probably look like total chaos,” Emmer remarked, introducing Johnson on Wednesday afternoon. If that’s the way you see it, you’re wrong. Instead, Emmer said, the internal battle among Republicans was “one of the greatest experiences of the recent history of our republic.” You really can’t make this up anymore.
Asked about reports that the GOP finally chose a speaker, Biden, who hadn’t yet been briefed, said he “hoped” the news was true. “We have to get moving,” he said. “We have to get moving.”