June 22, 2024

In a move that wasn’t all that much of a surprise, the U.S. House of Representatives voted Tuesday to remove Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) from his post as Speaker of the House. This is the first time in the history of the republic that such an attempt has succeeded; the last such effort was a vote to oust Speaker Joseph Gurney Cannon in 1910.

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So the Speaker’s chair is technically empty; there is a Speaker pro tempore, Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-NC), but an election must still be held for a new Speaker. Who might it be? Well, I have some thoughts.

Note: I’m not, nor will I, state any personal preference. I don’t know, as I don’t have one at this point. But I do have some ideas as to candidates for the position.

First, the obvious names:

Steve Scalise (R-LA) would seem to be the next in line; he is the current House Majority Leader, has a 91 percent lifetime rating from the Conservative Political Action Committee (CPAC), and seems to be a solid, if pedestrian, choice. But we’re in something of a political kerfuffle at the moment; the solid, pedestrian choice might not be the best one.

Elise Stefanik (R-NY) is currently the chair of the House Republican Conference and, therefore, ranks high in the Republican leadership; she is, however, also the kind of Republican that can be elected in New York, bringing in only a 50.8 percent lifetime rating from CPAC. Cooperation is often praised in political circles, but when Democrats use the term, it means “Republicans doing what we tell them,” and a real moderate may not be the best to lead this particular charge.

And then we have Matt Gaetz (R-FL), who may well run on a “you killed it, you eat it” ticket. Gaetz is one of the young Turks of the House, with a 91.6 percent lifetime rating from CPAC. He’s a guy who seems to have his eye on the main chance, and he doesn’t shy away from confrontation, as the last 24 hours have eloquently proved. But he’s quick with a retort, and with the GOP eyeing an upcoming election and their razor-thin majority, he may not be the best choice.

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Second, the not-so-obvious candidates.

It’s not commonly known, but according to the Constitution, there is no requirement that the Speaker be elected from the members of the House. Article 1, Section II of the Constitution states only that “The House of Representatives shall chuse their Speaker and other Officers; and shall have the sole Power of Impeachment.” In other words, they can choose outside the usual pool of candidates, namely, the House of Representatives.

So first among the not-so-obvious candidates is one who has been mentioned before to fill this role:

Donald Trump. Yes, really. This idea was kicked around right after the 2022 elections when the GOP realized their narrow majority and were selecting a Speaker. While I don’t think President Trump is down for the task – if nothing else, he’s too focused on campaigning and on his legal hassles – imagine the delicious reaction from Democrats, knowing that President Biden’s failing mental and physical health is becoming more obvious day by day and that they have the least-popular, not to mention incompetent, Vice President in history – and knowing that Donald John Trump is second in the line of succession.

Elon Musk. Now, there’s no way Elon will give up his tech empire to dirty his hands in government. But it sure would be interesting, wouldn’t it?

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Tucker Carlson. Why not? He’s engaging, he knows how to frame an argument, and he’s not afraid of conflict. Granted, he has no voting record as a legislator, but I think his conservative cred is pretty solid. The only downside is that he looks like he’s having a hell of a lot of fun as an independent pundit, and he’s apparently doing well at it, so I doubt he could be convinced to give that up.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY). Again: Why not? Sure, she’s a loony, but she is, at times, an entertaining loony. If you want to expose the very worst aspects of an idea – in this case, “democratic socialism,” then you let its most vocal proponents speak. AOC would be a daily—nay, hourly—embarrassment for national Democrats.

Finally, if all else fails, it would be roundly entertaining if the House were to elect actor (and leftist) Russell Crowe as Speaker, on the condition that he wear his Gladiator costume at all times while on the House floor and end every vote by shouting “Are you not entertained?” We are, after all, probably at the point in our modern political scene that we may as well laugh because the other alternative is crying.

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Journalist H.L. Mencken is famous for the saying, “Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard.” Of late, we are offered daily examples of just how right he was.

Oh, and don’t look at me. I don’t want the job. I’d sooner shovel manure than enter politics; I’ve done it before, the smell is better, and at least shoveling manure is honest work.

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