A lot is going on these days on Capitol Hill and some of it is funny. A video of Marjorie Taylor Greene strutting down the halls of an office building dressed in white while carrying a large white balloon made me smile. Congresswoman Boebert (R-CO) got my attention by bombarding tech executives with questions about why her Twitter account was suspended. And, of course, there is the image of George Santos smiling and lying. I watched his exchange with Senator Mitt Romney before the State of the Union address. Romney told Santos he should resign.
The saga of the Long Island Liar is just a small part of the multi-ringed circus brought to us by the Republican party. Other featured players have almost household names: Gaetz, Gosar, Biggs, and Jordan. As a group, they have delivered “news” every day since Kevin McCarthy was elected Speaker of the House. The news consists of outrageous stunts, tweets, and, in the case of the newly empowered Judiciary Committee Chairman Jordan, subpoenas. None of the news involves working with Democrats, solving problems, or otherwise trying to make life better for their constituents.
Have you noticed that the freak show gets more press than the entire Senate does? It also comes close to trumping coverage of President Biden, which is one reason the President spent about 40 minutes of his 73-minute State of the Union address telling the public about his legislative accomplishments.
Why doesn’t the public know much about Biden’s legislative victories? One answer is that they are not as engaging as Lauren Boebert joking about Representative Ilhan Omar (D-MN) carrying a bomb on a Capitol Hill elevator.
These days, with the population of possible Chinese spy balloons exploding, we need a good laugh. The problem with the Republican nonsense is that it really isn’t funny. The freak show isn’t taking place in a circus tent. The forum is the U.S. Capitol, the same building in which more than a dozen of the most freakish legislators aided and abetted the Trump insurrection.
Speaker McCarthy is a large part of the problem. Hungry to satisfy his own ego-driven quest for the Speakership, McCarthy struck deals with more than a dozen Republicans who threatened to vote against him. Marjorie Taylor Greene was not only welcomed back onto Congressional Committees, but she was also assigned to two plum assignments of her choosing, the Committee on Oversight and Accountability and the Committee on Homeland Security.
Those assignments make me nervous. Greene will work to use the Oversight and Accountability Committee to attack the Biden administration. If the Georgia Congresswoman has any interest in government integrity and efficiency, she hasn’t shown it. She is a follower of QAnon. Until the Shaman decides it’s more important to weed out waste at the Defense Department than to stop Hillary Clinton from eating babies, don’t expect anything constructive from Greene.
The assignment to the Homeland Security Committee is even more worrisome. As a member of the committee, she will have access to confidential information related to threats of domestic terrorism. Given Greene’s complicity in the January 6 Trump insurrection, McCarthy appointing her to this committee was legislative malpractice (or something worse).
The first hearings of the House Judiciary Committee, chaired by Jim Jordan, have given us a preview of what to expect for the next two years. The Select Committee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government has already outlined a list of grievances it will seek to investigate, including “weaponization” at the FBI and Justice Department. Call me a cynic, but is it possible that the Select Subcommittee will seek to undermine the pending investigations of Trump and more than a dozen Republicans, including our own Andy Harris, who are suspected of aiding and abetting the Trump Insurrection?
What are the members of the McCarthy freak show doing about the pending debt ceiling crisis? Nothing other than reminding Speaker McCarthy that they are against all compromise. If McCarthy decides to search for common ground with democrats despite them, expect a motion to remove him from the Speakership.
Will the McCarthy freak show get worse? Count on it. Since I started writing this piece, a second newly-elected Republican, Anna Paulina Luna (R-FL), has been found to have “embellished” her resume. The falsehoods are not as dramatic as Mr. Santos’ but you have to wonder whether somehow Trump has made Republicans more comfortable with lying to gain power.
Also, when reviewing Kevin McCarthy’s early record as Speaker, it is worth noting that he removed two of the most qualified, experienced members of the Intelligence Committee, apparently as retribution for their role in the impeachments of Donald Trump. Adam Schiff (D-CA) and Erick Swalwell (D-CA) were major contributors to the Committee in the last Congress and will be missed by anyone interested in the Intelligence Committee doing its work.
And where is Andy Harris these days? I have to admit he is both smarter and better educated than Lauren Boebert (R-CO), Matt Gaetz (R-FL), or the right-wing dentist Paul Gosar (R-AZ). Harris is keeping his head down. He’s not part of the McCarthy freak show. (That’s the only positive thing I’ve ever written about him.)
J.E. Dean is a retired attorney and public affairs consultant writing on politics, government, and other subjects.
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