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The Five GOP Factions that Cause Mike Johnson's Headaches

Politico has a piece in which they try to give a more nuanced view of the more troublesome elements of the House GOP Conference, at least from the vantage point of Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA). Here are the five different groupings, as the authors have it:

  1. The Threatening Firebrands: These are the folks, like Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), for whom politics is basically performance art. They care very little about policy.

  2. The Critical Conservatives: This group includes Andy Biggs (R-AZ) and Bob Good (R-VA) among others. They care a lot about policy, but they are unwilling to accept that politics is the art of compromise, and they are willing to engage in shenanigans to try to force through bills that are entirely unrealistic.

  3. The Tired Centrists: Here, Don Bacon (R-NE) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) are included. They actually want to govern, with an eye toward getting bills that achieve more of what they want than what the other side wants. The recent immigration bill, which was way more Republican than Democratic, is their dream legislation.

  4. The McCarthy Allies: These are people like Patrick McHenry (R-NC) who liked the former speaker, don't like the current speaker, and are not shy about sharing their views. That said, they tend to fall in line when it comes time to vote on things like stunt impeachments.

  5. The Rules Committee Rebels: Chip Roy (R-TX) is the poster child here. These members are often quirky in their politics, and they got themselves placed on the Rules Committee because they wanted to have influence over what bills do and do not come to the floor of the House. They are enough of a pain in the rear that Johnson has done an end run around them a couple of times by suspending normal order.

On the whole, we're actually not big fans of these articles that purport to "sort" political factions into nice, neat categories. In the end, there are some people who clearly fit into multiple categories, and there are some who move between categories, depending on the day and the issue.

Nonetheless, we pass this along for a couple of reasons. The first is that it underscores the fact that as Johnson tries to herd the most unruly cats in his caucus, he's really herding multiple mini-herds. It's not so simple as just "keeping the Freedom Caucus happy." No wonder he's had considerably more failures than successes, especially given that he does not appear to be a particularly skilled cat-herder.

The second reason we bring it up is that we had a question this weekend about why so many of the GOP retirements this cycle are senior members from deep-red districts. A new piece from CNN echoes our answer. In short, the people who are throwing in the towel are members who worked their way up the ladder, and landed plum committee assignments, in hopes of doing some actual governance. Now it is clear to them that is not going to happen anytime soon, either due to Republican dysfunction or a Democratic takeover of the House or both. So, they are heading for the hills. Putting it in terms of the list above, folks from groups 3-5 are departing, and there's an excellent chance of their being replaced by more folks who will be in groups 1-2.

And speaking of exits, this isn't worthy of its own item, but we'll note here the photo that Johnson posted to Ex-Twitter on Presidents' Day:

Donald Trump and Mike Johnson pose, thumbs-up, at Mar-a-Lago

Naturally, it emphasizes the extent to which Johnson has prostrated himself before Trump. After all, it's not like Trump was the one who traveled to take the photo. But what approximately one million Ex-Twitter users noticed was the inadvertent, almost subliminal detail at the top right. That is to say, as Johnson kisses the ring, his eventual exit is always lingering in the background. It's only a question of when he leaves. (Z)

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