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This Is So Stupid

Do We Suspect, To Our Horror, That There May Well Be Some Frankenstein Coalition Created From This Impasse, An Abhorrent Manifestation Of House Rule That America Has Never Witnessed And The American People Have Never Authorized?

3:10 PM EST on January 5, 2023

Rep. Clay Higgins wears a stupid hat.
Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call via Getty Images

The 118th Congress of the United States government is having a very hard time selecting a Speaker of the House, the presiding officer and parliamentary leader of Congress's lower chamber. A majority—218 members and members-elect—of the House must agree on a candidate in order for that candidate to ascend to the position, but through six rounds of voting spread over the first two days of the session, no candidate has received more than 212 votes. That candidate, Hakeem Jeffries of New York, has received the same 212 votes in each round, but cannot realistically win the position, as he is a Democrat, and you will sooner find six unicorns prancing across the National Mall than six Republicans willing to send a member of the minority party to the chamber's foremost leadership position. The leading Republican vote-getter, Kevin McCarthy of California, is an oily reptilian MAGA freak with plastic hair and not even a distant recollection of moral conviction, and who by a fluke of conservative mass paranoia is every bit as distasteful to the lunatic fringe of his own party as he is to every member of the opposing one. McCarthy has spent entire years angling for this position; in the first round of voting Tuesday he received 203 votes, and somehow only lost votes in the six subsequent rounds, each of which has taken approximately one million years to complete. It's a whole thing.

This gridlock, however humorous it is to casual observers, is upsetting to the business of the government in any number of ways: Committees must be convened, new members must be sworn in, responsibilities must be delegated, and rules must be established, and none of this can take place until a Speaker is chosen. McCarthy, despite never having finished better than second in any of the first six rounds of voting, is the candidate closest to the position, but from the sound of things it will take some genuinely unpleasant and politically untenable concessions to his party's hardline minority in order for him to get over the hump. This, you can imagine, is a matter of some concern to what passes for the "moderate" wing of today's GOP, who for one thing do not appreciate being jerked around by a caucus that represents fewer than 10 percent of Republican districts, and for another do not want to cede influential roles and positions to people even they consider to be unreasonable.

A whole damn century passed since the last time the House initiated a vote for Speaker without successfully electing one, and already, as of the typing of this sentence, the 118th Congress has pulled it off seven times, in just over two days of action. Seven! As this matter is in the hands of the U.S. House of Representatives, which is currently controlled, however narrowly, by the Republican Party, the resolution is likely to make things worse in ways that will cause normal people of all stripes to groan and sigh and feel even less confident in the capacity of representative government. You or I might say, "Ugh, what a nightmare, I hate to think of what these bozos will get up to this time." But the members of Congress are extremely not normal: If you are Rep. Clay Higgins of Louisiana, you are evidently law-bound to articulate this and other sentiments as if read aloud from the pages of a Shelby Foote novel:

As several Defector idiots discovered Wednesday night, as the House labored through yet another unsuccessful Speaker vote, this tweet is extremely fun to read aloud with approximately the ostentatious, cajunesque accent of Benoit Blanc, the protagonist of Knives Out and Glass Onion. Here is Drew Magary, with a pinched-yet-lyrical presentation:

Tew mah hohr! Very good. Now here is David Roth, applying a somewhat more dramatic drawl:

Autho-RIZED. Hell yes. Here is me, affecting a scandalized, breathless, Lindsey Graham–esque style:

Do not feel that you are limited to theatrical southern accents, here. It turns out this tweet is also very fun to read aloud in the style of The Undertaker, as demonstrated here by Dan McQuade:

And why should it be any less fun to read in the style of "Macho Man" Randy Savage? Here's Roth again:

For that matter, why shouldn't we just choose any favorite pompous affectation and let her rip? Here's Drew as Robert Kraft:

And Drew again, doing I'm not quite sure what:

And here is former Defector idiot and current The Athletic idiot Kalyn Kahler, with a brilliant southern-fried rendition that would not be out of place in a prime Olympia Dukakis performance:

While we wait for our government to, uh, function as a government, there can be no better use of your time than reading Higgins's tweet aloud to yourself at your desk, in various styles and accents. Give it a try!

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