Mike Johnson Speaker of the House

Speaker of the House Mike Johnson Already Pulling a Kevin McCarthy

Mike Johnson, the current Speaker of the House, is going through what every person who has ever said “I can fix them” to their friends has experienced. Mainly the realization that he’s not special and that no, he cannot, in fact, fix the deep dysfunction rampant within his own party.

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It does appear Johnson entered into the Speakership with hateful rhetoric in his heart but optimism in his bones. At least one of those things is not panning out for him right now. Per CNN:

The Louisiana conservative, who was just lifted from obscurity to second in line to the presidency, may soon find himself in the position that doomed his predecessor Rep. Kevin McCarthy — needing Democratic votes to keep the government open.

A funding deadline of Friday night means Washington again faces a wild ride of shutdown brinkmanship caused by extreme GOP lawmakers who either cannot or don’t want to help run the country. The imbroglio is not just harming America’s image as a functioning democracy abroad. It has already wasted every week of the House majority party’s term since the summer and threatens to further weaken the key swing-district members critical to the GOP’s hopes of keeping the gavel in next year’s election.

You’ll recall Johnson’s predecessor, Kevin McCarthy, was essentially ousted from the Speakership position for not being “conservative” (read: extremist) enough. Enter Johnson, who probably thought he was conservative enough, but the far-right end of the party is Lucy with the football to every Speaker they encounter. They lay it out but snatch it up before the Speaker gets to kick it, promising next time they won’t. It’s honestly kind of funny, but it always has horrific implications:

The political and geopolitical costs of this mess are only growing. The House’s failure to govern means Israel is still waiting for an aid package as it battles Hamas in Gaza. (Johnson did pass $14.3 billion in aid for the Jewish state but offset the funding with cuts to the Internal Revenue Service to appease hardline conservatives, making it a futile gesture the Senate won’t accept.) Ukraine’s hopes of receiving another massive US aid package are receding given the House’s incapacity to act and increasing opposition to the lifeline among far-right conservatives.


So where does Johnson stand? He simply cannot pass a budget and keep the U.S. federal government operating without the support of the Democrat-held Senate and President Biden’s approval. Well, it leaves him right back to where McCarthy was before he got fired; pleading for Democrat support and begging the fringe right of his own party to cut him some slack:

So the key question this week may be whether hardline Republicans will give their new leader any more leeway than they gave McCarthy and allow him to stave off his first crisis with some Democratic votes. Johnson comes from the far right himself. But any compromises with Democrats will begin the process of erosion of hardline support and Johnson’s transformation in the eyes of right-wing backbenchers into an establishment figure guilty of wanting to govern. That’s a slippery slope to potential attempts to oust him.


This is akin to watching someone with one of those obnoxiously oversized trucks try to parallel park into a too-tight spot, all the while they’re screaming obscenities at you because they’re that kind of person. In short, it’s an impossible task they entirely brought upon themselves with terrible choices and never thinking ahead. While it might be funny to watch, chances are high they’ll hit your car as they eventually give up and go park in a reserved spot for the disabled closer to the entrance, simply because they can, not because the law allows them to. If that isn’t America in a nutshell.

(Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

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Kate Hudson
Kate Hudson (no, not that one) has been writing about pop culture and reality TV in particular for six years, and is a Contributing Writer at The Mary Sue. With a deep and unwavering love of Twilight and Con Air, she absolutely understands her taste in pop culture is both wonderful and terrible at the same time. She is the co-host of the popular Bravo trivia podcast Bravo Replay, and her favorite Bravolebrity is Kate Chastain, and not because they have the same first name, but it helps.