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Speaker of the House Watch – 2nd day, evening edition.

The House just convened for more votes on who will be speaker. If you’ve lost count, we are about to have a SEVENTH vote for speaker of the House after Kevin McCarthy has lost to Hakeem Jeffries for 6 straight tries by something like 8-10 votes (counting the one that is “present”. )

But wait, what’s this? The Republicans have asked for an adjournment until tomorrow. Cheryl Johnson, the Clerk of the House asked for a voice vote. All Democrats opposed but it was difficult to tell whether there were enough Republican “ayes” to adjourn. They are now actually voting to adjourn.

But during the voice vote, it looked like the “nos” got carried away, pumping their arms and repeating “no!, no!,no!” It got very noisy. And then something about this scene reminded me of an act from This American Life about an amateur production of Peter Pan at a local community auditorium. The director was fresh and excited and this was her first production.

Peter crashes through Wendy’s window.

Things started to go wrong. Then the pace of things going wrong accelerated. At first, the audience was mildly amused. Then slowly the laughing got louder. Then they reached the tipping point. We pick it up just as Wendy loses her ability to fly with the apparatus that has been malfunctioning since the beginning of the play:

So now there is this big loop of wire hanging in front of the stage, and there’s Wendy holding the kite. And she ad libbed as best she could, as I remember. She sort of said, on second thought, maybe I can swim. And with that, she walked off the stage, sort of motioning her arms like you would do the swim, the dance in 1965.

So she does that. At this point, I mean, the actors are just falling apart. They are so frightened of the audience. There are just belly laughs rolling up to the stage from the audience. People are howling with laughter at every mistake.

And now any small mistake just takes on these– any instigation for laughter is just enough for this audience. And now the old people have given it up. Everyone has quit being nice. Now there’s just this kind of frightening roar that comes from the audience every time there’s a mistake.

Ira Glass

Well, what happened? At some point, the audience turned and realized, oh, wait. I realize what’s going on here. This is a fiasco.

Jack Hitt

Yeah, this is a fiasco. And what’s really interesting about a fiasco is that once it starts to tumble down, the audience wants to push it further along.

Ira Glass

Oh, they get hungry for more fiasco.

Jack Hitt

Oh, yeah.

Ira Glass

If the play proceeded perfectly, they would be disappointed.

Jack Hitt

Oh, it would have been a grave disappointment had there not been just one more mistake after another, one more embarrassment after another. Now the reason they’re there is to chronicle these embarrassments. This is why I have remembered this play for 25 years.

The ayes barely nudged out the nays (2 votes) and the House is adjourned. But not before jeering and noise and a discernible appetite from the nays for more unforced errors. It should be noted that to have a 2 vote separation means that a few Republicans have joined the peanut gallery.

This, ladies and gentlemen, is where we are.

The House has been taken over by amateur directors. They started off badly and it’s getting worse and more out of control with every vote. And it’s going to be like this for two solid years.

It is, in short, a fiasco.


3 Responses

  1. CAUTION: I tried to go to the website on the “book cover”, but Malwarebytes detected a Trojan there (no, not a condom or a USC athlete). 🙃

    Having said that, here’s a book for when your kindergartener asks about what’s going on in the House of Representatives.

  2. Happy New Year–late or early, depending on whether we mean by the Gregorian calendar or the East Asian lunisolar calendar.

    The latter will give us a Year of the Rabbit on Jan. 22.

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