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Not Ready for Prime Time


I didn’t watch the State of the Union–I never watch politics. If anything actually happens, I can read about it later and do something more efficient with my time, which in last night’s case was having pizza and beer with a friend. And one of the things I can read about later is what a complete loser Mike Johnson remains. Really, he’s perfect for the current Republican caucus–weak, evil, and also insane.

Michael Tomasky goes double barrel on Johnson trying to be a Big Man last night and failing like the miserable troll that he is.

But let’s not talk about Biden. Let’s talk instead about that little guy in the chair over the president’s left shoulder. House Speaker Mike Johnson showed, in his histrionic facial expressions, everything that’s wrong and idiotic and dangerous and even treasonous about the Republican Party.

Johnson was ridiculous. He was small. Granted it’s not always easy for an opposition party leader to figure out how to comport him or herself during a State of the Union. The camera is on you for an hour or more, yet you can’t speak. You’re not going to join in on the frequent applauses, except rarely. Johnson did applaud Biden’s call for aid to Ukraine early in the speech, which he does seem to support personally, even though he’s too afraid of his wingnut caucus to allow a straight-up vote and thus may go down in history as the one person more than any other who handed Vladimir Putin the keys to Kyiv. So you sit there awkwardly.

Johnson decided that the State of the Union was the right time to mug for the camera. And he laid it on like a silent-movie actor, so thick that you could practically see the girl tied on the railroad tracks and hear the piano music. He nodded and nodded—you know, that solemn, “more in anger than in sorrow” nod. And those eye rolls! He rolled his eyes more than a teenage girl listening to her father’s jokes (that’s an eye roll I know rather well).

And the things he rolled his eyes at! Most conspicuously, January 6. Here’s what Biden said: “We must be honest. The threat to democracy must be defended. My predecessor and some of you here seek to bury the truth about Jan. 6. I will not do that.” That drew a sustained eye roll. So did a mention of abortion rights and freedom. So did the border bill, which Johnson helped kill because Donald Trump would rather have border chaos.

Actually that one was more of a head shake, which went on a few seconds longer than it had any justification to. Mind you, he did that even as GOP Senator James Lankford, the chief negotiator on the border bill, listened to Biden lay out its provisions and nodded, clearly saying, “That’s true.” They’ll be coming for him today, the sellout. Johnson also shook his head at “buy American.” Seriously?!

And even this relatively nonpartisan sentiment drew an eye roll: “The very idea of America is that we are all created equal, deserve to be treated equally throughout our lives. We’ve never fully lived up to that idea, but we’ve never walked away from it either.”

What I like about the modern Republican Party is that each House leader is more ridiculous and weak than the last one.

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