Day of the goons: Win or lose, Jim Jordan marks a new low point for the GOP

Jim Jordan's threats and empty promises may not be enough to end all-out Republican chaos

By Brian Karem


Published October 17, 2023 12:49PM (EDT)

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan (R-OH) speaks to reporters before heading into a House Republican caucus meeting at the U.S. Capitol on September 19, 2023 in Washington, DC. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan (R-OH) speaks to reporters before heading into a House Republican caucus meeting at the U.S. Capitol on September 19, 2023 in Washington, DC. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

I think I finally understand George Carlin.

He said that when he finally came to a certain awareness about humanity it freed him to make observations as an outsider which made his comedy more relevant. 

“I sort of gave up on the human race,” he once said on Charlie Rose’s show. “I gave up caring about the outcome. ... I watch it with a combination of wonder and pity.” 

I don’t know about all that, but last week’s activities in the House and the coming week of expected insanity have sent me into regions I never thought I’d visit. I’m right there with Carlin on the “I don’t give a s**t” meter.

The U.S. government stands as a mockery to its intentions, and the disease that was formerly in the White House now runs wild in Congress. This iteration of insanity is harder to handle because there are literally dozens of morons running loose, unfettered, without hope or prayer of finding a sane moment. 

When Trump was president, we focused on the disease in one human. Now,  we have to deal with the likes of George Santos running down the hallway screaming at imaginary foes. It’s Kevin McCarthy unable to grasp his own irrelevance. It’s Jim Jordan pretending to be an adult male. And it’s so much more. 

In order to survive the ongoing dysfunction, I must either stick to a stiff regimen of hallucinogenic psychosis made possible via whatever pharmacological concoction is obtainable — or I can turn it all off.

Divorcing yourself from humanity has some added perks that overdosing on your favorite drug doesn’t — including survival, the ability to maintain rational thought (if you previously possessed it, that is) and the ability to discern and disseminate sarcasm.

You have to wonder if President Biden has come to the same conclusion. When asked by Fox News reporter Peter Doocy last Friday night what worried him most about Israel’s impending ground invasion in Gaza, the president replied in deadpan tones, “Death.” 

And some of you folks think this guy has lost it?

House Republicans have lashed themselves to the mooring of their sinking ship, and are destroying themselves in public for the third time since they took over the majority — nine months ago.

Compare that to the rolling peptic tide that spewed from Donald Trump over the past week or so. His claim that Hezbollah was “smart” was only the tip of the iceberg. His trip from relevance to irrelevance is being measured in nanoseconds by the majority of the world. His MAGA maggots haven’t changed; they are what they are.

Late on Friday, the seditionists cornered themselves in the House. Donald Trump squirmed as his last hold on government slowly dissolved in his tiny hands. 

Then came a guttural scream. Trump wailed in distress, both hunted and haunted by his own actions. Along with millions of his followers, Trump was holding out for his last hope: the election of loyal sycophant Jim Jordan as speaker. 

Beyond here be dragons. 

House Republicans have apparently lashed themselves to the mooring of their sinking ship, floundering in a storm of their own making. They are not unlike toddlers sloshing back and forth in the bathtub and crying about the results. 

The rambunctious, impetuous and chronically underachieving Republicans, eager to blame everyone else for everything while accepting responsibility for nothing, are busy destroying themselves in public for at least the third time since they took over the House barely nine months ago. The first time was in the ridiculously long and painful election of Kevin McCarthy and the set of rules he had to swallow, which in turn brought about the second GOP self-immolation, when Matt “Zoltan” Gaetz pulled the trigger that booted McCarthy from the job he’d fought so hard to get. Gaetz frolicked in the pungent aroma of his own stench like a dog admiring its flatulence.

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But they say “three’s a charm,” so some have crossed their fingers and prayed to a big old statue that the GOP can get it right this time. Even so, the only people convinced that the Republicans can or will accomplish anything before next November are also waiting for tickets to Elvis’ next performance.

This is truly crazy, folks. It’s not politics. It’s just self-mutilation and destruction on a larger stage than the Jim Jones electric Kool Aid cyanide test. 

Jim Jordan hasn’t passed one single bill through Congress in 16 years. He’s supposed to shepherd legislation? I’m not sure he’s ever read any. Should he become speaker, the government will most likely shut down in mid-November and Ukraine will most likely lose U.S. funding.

UPDATE: Jordan failed to win the speakership in the first House vote on Tuesday, with 20 Republicans voting against him — a much larger number than anyone expected. He has to win back at least 16 of those resistance voters, so his prospects remain murky, to put it mildly. One member of Congress told me outside the chamber, "He will never be speaker."

Jim Jordan hasn’t passed one single bill through Congress in 16 years. He’s supposed to shepherd legislation? I’m not sure he’s ever read any.

Of course Jim Jordan didn’t come to town to build anything. He came in a foul stench to tear it all down and piss on it, wearing a tie but no jacket, a perpetual sneer and the general demeanor of a waiter in a cheap diner surviving three-day shifts on speed and coffee.

Any “deals” he will now try to make to get the speaker's gavel are irrelevant. A few more so-called “moderates” may fall in line to elect Jordan, giving up their votes to both his overt threats and his promises to keep the government open — but they should know by now that they trust Jordan at their own risk. His deals mean nothing.

Meanwhile, sources told me on Friday that Democrats and Republicans “were actually talking” — but, for God’s sake, about what? Who knows? It was probably about where the nearest weed dispensary was. Twenty milligrams of sativa in a gummy works wonders on most members of Congress, and certainly helps get a staff party started. Those guys need a laugh more than the rest of us — they’re right in the middle of chaos in a blender. And they turned on the blender.  

I don’t buy it: I suspect that little actual talk across the aisle is taking place. Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries said all he needed to say on Friday afternoon, when he spoke about Jordan’s lack of production and overabundance of obstruction. 

If a dozen or so Republicans actually wanted to join the Democrats and elect Jeffries as speaker, the Democrats would nod and concede little, while smiling like Cheshire cats.

But if Republicans want any Democrats to support a GOP nominee for speaker, they will have to guarantee funding the government after Nov. 17 and also continued funding for Ukraine’s war effort. The menu of possible Republican speakers doesn’t include much of that, even as a side dish. You don’t see anybody smiling on the Republican side of the aisle.

So there’s considerable incentive for the Republicans to elect Jordan quickly, rather than face a degree of stagnation that offers the Democrats more leverage. It says something that some Republicans who have swallowed as much political sewage as they have in the last few years finally find themselves choking on Jim Jordan. That’s a bitter pill to add to the daily congressional swill. Imagine how low Jordan must be that the other primitive life forms in the GOP have trouble accepting him.

Racism, idolatry, violence, perversion, ignorance and vindictiveness are heavy on the menu at the GOP and like a sounder of swine they lap up the fetid slop with gusto and a hearty cheer that’s humorous to watch — if you can divorce yourself from the sheer human anguish of all this. Apparently that’s also the preferred course of action for many Republican officeholders. They aren’t serving their constituents, only appealing to their fans or, in Jim Jordan’s case,  playing to a mirror that says “Caution, objects may be smaller than they appear.” I’m talking about his heart and his head; any other interpretation is on you.

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Our system isn’t broken, necessarily. But  many people in elected office definitely are, and a lot of those are gathered in the GOP, a party that collects broken people and maniacs much as a landfill collects refuse.

Make no mistake, the Republicans’ inability to govern is apparent to most people — including Republicans themselves. 

It’s no huge surprise that Kevin McCarthy is a little slow on the uptake. When CNN’s Manu Raju cornered McCarthy last Friday, he asked the former speaker, “What does this do to your swing district Republicans?”

McCarthy claimed not to grasp the question, asking, “That all the Democrats voted to try to bring chaos?”

Raju corrected him: “That you guys can’t govern.”

That’s it precisely. Even if Republicans somehow came together over the last three days and decided to elect a new speaker, the problems inside the GOP and the House remain deep desert canyons in American politics. And a great many people both in government and among those who observe it closely can see no path through the desert. 

The House has been without a speaker for close to two weeks. That’s never happened before in our history. 

But the work still has to be done. The rest of us go about our business, trying to take care of our families, working our jobs and paying our bills. Members of Congress refuse to do their jobs, still get paid and pander to trolls to stay in power while loudly slip-sliding away.

If that isn’t a comedy,  it’s a tragedy.

You know, a funny thing happened on the way to the Forum ... 

Tragedy tomorrow, comedy tonight.

By Brian Karem

Brian Karem is the former senior White House correspondent for Playboy. He has covered every presidential administration since Ronald Reagan, sued Donald Trump three times successfully to keep his press pass, spent time in jail to protect a confidential source, covered wars in the Middle East and is the author of seven books. His latest is "Free the Press."

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Commentary Congress Donald Trump Jim Jordan Joe Biden Kevin Mccarthy Republicans