Who’s He?

The embarrassing impasse in the House of Representatives has finally ended, as Louisiana’s Mike Johnson has been elected Speaker. So, who is Mike Johnson, and why was he finally able to succeed where several more notable House members failed?

I suspect that the answer has more to do with desperation than anything else. The Republican Party was made to look ridiculous, not so much by the party’s divisions as by the utter lack of party loyalty and discipline that was revealed by one failed vote after another. Most likely, Republicans coalesced behind Johnson–a little-known commodity, who has never been a committee chairman–to stop the bleeding.

John Fund offers more in the New York Post:

There are famously Five Families warring inside the House Republican tent: the Tea Party-influenced House Freedom Caucus, the conservative Republican Study Committee, business-oriented Chamber of Commerce types, the moderate Republican Governance Group and the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus.

So how did Johnson get them temporarily to agree on electing him?

He belongs to the Freedom Caucus and used to chair the Republican Study Committee, nailing down his right flank.

His leadership position as House Republican Conference vice chairman meant he had personal relationships with many moderate members, who liked his low-key style and his willingness to listen to them. And he has demonstrated an interest in the details of legislation, impressing other members expert in tax, budget and defense issues.

It also didn’t escape the notice of MAGA members that he had served on the defense team in Donald Trump’s first impeachment trial in 2020.

Then there is this, which I like:

Finally, Johnson has formidable communication skills. A constitutional lawyer for the Alliance Defending Freedom, he has years of experience arguing cases in federal court. He was also a college professor and conservative talk-show host.

All points well taken, but I still think desperation was probably the number one factor. And it remains to be seen how Johnson will fare after a few weeks on the hot seat. The underlying problem here is that a lot of Republican politicians, including quite a few House members, aren’t very good at politics. But for now, why not be optimistic? Who knows, a star may have been born.

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