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Weekend humor from Celia Rivenbark: New House Speaker is quietly frightening

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Weekend humor from Celia Rivenbark: New House Speaker is quietly frightening

Nov 18, 2023 | 6:00 am ET
By Celia Rivenbark
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Weekend humor from Celia Rivenbark: New House Speaker is quietly frightening
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U.S. Speaker of the House Mike Johnson, R-La., speaks during a news conference after a weekly Republican conference meeting in the U.S. Capitol Building on Nov. 14, 2023 in Washington, D.C. (Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

With the recent death of Matthew Perry, I’m picturing how his always sarcastic “Friends” character, Chandler Bing, might have viewed new Speaker of the House Mike Johnson.

“Could he BE any worse for the country?” Nope, Chandler, he could not. Mike Johnson looks bookishly harmless for sure. He’s got the kind of forgettable appearance that probably has fellow legislators flagging him to “make me some copies when you have a minute.”

A firebrand, he is not. This is new territory for high-profile MAGA House members. Where’s the noisy bombast of jacketless jackal Jim Jordan? The slick good looks of Kevin McCarthy, always impeccably dressed and looking like he was late for the vote because his caviar facial ran long? Where’s the old guard intensity of a seasoned member of Congress with an undeniable “Handmaids” Commander vibe like Steve Scalise? Or, failing those, perhaps the flaky flamboyance of Liars Club poster boy George Santos? The dead-eyed dreadfully dumb Marjorie Taylor Greene, maybe?

These are the devils we know, so to speak.

By all appearances, Mike Johnson is more like former Vice President Mike Pence without all the annoying frat boy personality. (“Who wants milk??!!”) I’m fairly certain Mike Johnson may be the only person from Louisiana who thinks jambalaya is “Satan food.”  

Mike Johnson isn’t what we were expecting not just because he’s a quiet unknown but mostly because it’s not the 19th century. We hear him speak and we have to look down and make sure we’re not wearing high-button shoes or holding a buggy whip. On the plus side, in a Mike Johnson America, nobody will get their nose out of joint when Flavor Flav sings the National Anthem because most families can’t afford a Victrola.

Mike Johnson has gone from near-total obscurity to second in line to the presidency for one very simple reason: Donald Trump endorsed him. This is puzzling to put it mildly. Why are so many Republicans in Congress so terrified of angering an elderly Florida man who is facing 91 indictments and whom I’m almost positive couldn’t find Vermont on a United States map? Just kidding. I’m positive.

Like the scariest villain in the horror movie, Mike Johnson’s biggest skill so far is saying terrible things in a comforting voice. Only instead of whispering a chilling “Have you checked the children lately” on a phone call to the babysitter, (The call is coming from inside the HOUSE!!!!!) he quietly announces he will tie U.S. aid to Israel to a proposal to defund the IRS’ efforts to investigate tax-cheating billionaires. I told you it was terrible.

I have a refrigerator magnet that reads, “I never thought I’d miss Nixon” and I’m starting to feel the same way about Kevin McCarthy. He at least looked pained when he said awful things. Which wasn’t easy with all that Botox, I’m guessing.

McCarthy got tossed out for displeasing the MAGAs that put him into the Speaker’s chair and it’s only a matter of time before the same thing happens to Mike Johnson. Sure, he got the support of all 220 Republicans in the House but that was just because they wanted to look unified behind, “Who? From Where? Yeah, whatever.” 

There are already rumblings of displeasure from within Republican ranks about this Israel package gimmick so it might not be too long before Mike Johnson becomes just another Mike Johnson Construction Company, which is, incidentally, what came up first when I Googled Mike Johnson’s name. 

Perhaps they will return to their roots. Lauren Boebert’s on an apology tour back home following her unfortunate groping and vaping at the theater and lying about it all misstep. Everyone loves a redemption story so maybe she could be the next one to wield the speaker’s gavel.

In the words of Chandler Bing: “Could I BE more excited?” No. I could not.