Sunday, January 08, 2023


The Speaker fight in the House of Representatives was an embarrassment. The concessions made to the radical holdouts will undoubtedly hurt America. But there might be a silver lining to what just happened in Washington: The media might finally be recognizing that American political history started long before Donald Trump took that escalator ride in 2015.

Here's Robert Draper in The New York Times:
From Gingrich to McCarthy, the Roots of Governance by Chaos

Mr. Gingrich began the zero-sum politics that mutated into the brand of the Tea Party and Trump M.A.G.A. Republicans and that presaged the raucous speaker battle in the House.

... [Newt] Gingrich’s triumph in 1994 in wresting the House from a Democratic majority for the first time since 1952 was the starting point for the zero-sum brand of politics that mutated into the Tea Party movement, the grievance-based populism of the Trump era, and what was garishly displayed on the House floor in a raucous four-day speaker battle that ended in the small hours of Saturday.

The bitterly partisan stalemates of the Gingrich era may well have metastasized into a state of governance by chaos.

“They’re employing the old Gingrich argument that you don’t get any benefit from cooperation or compromise, only from confrontation,” said Representative Steny Hoyer of Maryland, until recently the Democrats’ House majority leader. Mr. Hoyer, who was sworn into office in 1981, two years after Mr. Gingrich, recalled the Georgia congressman “playing to the anger and disaffection of people who Nixon called ‘the silent majority’ a few years earlier.”

“Those feelings predated Gingrich,” Mr. Hoyer said. “But he took extraordinary advantage of them, just as Trump did later and just as this crowd’s doing now.”
So are we to infer that purging Donald Trump from our political life won't magically solve all of America's problems and return us to a prelapsarian state in which people of all political persuasions hold hands and dance merrily around maypoles in peace and harmony? Many of us have been arguing this for years, but until now it's seemed like a foreign concept to the elite media, which has regularly argued that politics will go back to the way it was if Liz Cheney or Larry Hogan can just get into a primary debate with Trump and land a knockout punch.

In the effort to elect a Speaker, Trump was no more than a bit player, and yet bad things happened. Assuming he ramps up his campaign soon, he'll be more visible as radicals in the House manufacture future crises, and he'll undoubtedly weigh in. But maybe the lesson has been learned. Maybe even A-list journalists now understand that the rot exists elsewhere, and has been festering since well before Trump entered politics.

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