Mike Johnson
Rep. Mike Johnson (R-LA). Photo credit: Mike Johnson Official Portrait

Just like high school seniors who are only accepted by their safety schools but want to put a positive spin on things, Republicans are pretending to be really excited about their choice.

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Rep. Mike Johnson (R-LA) is the safety school of speaker candidates. After striking out with all of their top choices, it seems as though House Republicans may just settle for him on Wednesday. After all, time is running out, and they need to pick someone.

And, like a safety school, Johnson meets all of the minimum requirements: He supported Donald Trump’s coup and has the blessing of the former president.

That’s it. Those are all the qualifications it takes to become speaker today. To be fair, he also has solid MAGA credentials and seems unlikely to work with House Democrats, but that’s just a bonus… like having a McDonald’s in the student union.

Finally, just like high schoolers who are only accepted by their safety schools but want to put a positive spin on things, Republicans are pretending to be really excited about their choice.

For example, this is something you may hear a high school senior say: “Well, I got the rejections from Harvard, Princeton, Stanford, and State, but Hicksville Community College has a very strong English program, and I won’t have to find a new beer pong league.”

And here is what Republicans are saying now: “We canned McCarthy, and then we chose Scalise, Jordan, and Emmer in that order without anybody ever bringing up Johnson, but clearly that’s who we wanted all along because he is the only one who can unite us.”

See for yourself.

For example, this is Rep. Anna Paulina Luna (R-FL), who previously was firmly on Rep. Jim Jordan’s (R-OH) team:

The way Republicans rallied around Johnson Tuesday evening stands in stark contrast to the first vote of the day. In the first ballot, he only received 85 votes — which means that fewer than 40 percent of his colleagues had voted for him.

The truth is that GOP lawmakers are finally realizing that they are looking like complete idiots who are unable to govern themselves or the country.

And, with a shutdown looming and both Israel and Ukraine in need of aid to fight Hamas and Russia respectively, the American people are actually paying a bit of attention to what’s happening (or not happening) on Capitol Hill.

That is why, later on Wednesday, there is a decent chance that Johnson will either get elected or come closer than any of the above… even though all of the others had much stronger supporters in the Republican conference.

Because, make no mistake, if Johnson does get the gavel, it won’t be because of his popularity but rather because of his un-objectionability.

All of the others had pissed off enough of their fellow Republicans to ensure that they would never become speaker.

Not Johnson.

While he doesn’t have any outstanding qualifications, he also doesn’t seem to have any enemies. And that might ultimately be the key to success in this chaotic House GOP.

In addition, the time appears to be just right for Republicans to settle on somebody. It seems doubtful that he would have gotten many votes had he run earlier against any of the others.

Now, however, he is the last decent option that will make the conference and Trump happy enough.


  • Klaus Marre

    Klaus Marre is a writer, editor, former congressional reporter, and director of the WhoWhatWhy Mentor Apprentice Program. Follow him on Twitter @KlausMarre.

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