Florida Republican Congressman Matt Gaetz accomplished his goal last week, when his “Motion to Vacate the [Speaker’s] Chair” passed the House of Representatives with unanimous support from Democrats, plus Gaetz and seven of his colleagues who like him appear to have no vision beyond their own egos.
In kicking former Speaker Kevin McCarthy to the curb with no Plan B beyond making the rounds of cable TV and radio talk shows, Gaetz & Co. left an important segment of the government of the United States adrift in an increasingly dangerous world.
The egotism and immaturity their game reflects will have ripple effects at home and abroad, as leaders scratch their heads and marvel at what the United States has done to deserve such punishment.
Lest we place too much blame at the feet of Gaetz and his Happy Seven for this sorry state of affairs, America and the rest of the World know full well that there are other serious tears in the fabric of our mantle of leadership.
Let’s begin at the top, with the President of the United States, Joe Biden, whose somnambulance is exceeded only by the vitriol that infects virtually every public pronouncement he occasionally makes. If Biden’s handlers and his cohorts in the Congress and in Democrat-controlled state governments across the country honestly believe other world leaders, including friends and foes, do not see and act on such profound and obvious weaknesses, then they are as clueless as he is.
The Republican Party, which in our closed, two-party system is the only meaningful political counterbalance to the Democrat Party that currently controls the White House and the Senate, is being led by a proud egotist whose dealings in both politics and business have earned him the sobriquet of “multiple indictee.”
Amidst all this political chaos, we have a southern border across which uncountable thousands of aliens daily pour, at times with the help of the very federal employees whose responsibility it is to stop such illegal crossings. The rest of the world Watches this madness play out, even as the Biden Administration claims with a straight face that the border is “secure.”
The cherry atop this toxic political sundae, however, is the plan by Gaetz to leave the House of Representatives leaderless, without even a bare majority of Members willing to stand up and say, “okay, at least here and now, we will put aside personal peeves and partisan bickering to ensure that this vital component of the federal government is not left twisting in the wind as the world watches.”
Domestically, governors and legislators will step in to pick up much of the political and economic slack caused by Washington’s ongoing inability (or unwillingness) to function.
Abroad, however, matters left hanging or in tatters because of the failure to engage in at least a semblance of regular order or to maintain leadership in the House of Representatives, will not be so easily patched over.
With the United States absent or dithering in countries and regions from Russia and Ukraine to Taiwan and China, and now to a suddenly exploding Middle East, allies will begin making decisions without Washington at the table; some will seek new friends of convenience. Adversaries will be emboldened to test us as perhaps never before since the interregnum between the First and Second World Wars when the United States stuck its head in the sand while Europe smoldered.
And once those new alliances or partnerships of convenience gel, it will be extremely difficult to turn back the clock and return to the status quo ante. Prestige and influence frittered away over the past several years is not easily regained. The current expansion of “BRICS” (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) to include Iran and Saudi Arabia as a counterweight to NATO and the G7, is a harbinger of things to come.
The Middle East once again is boiling over into all-out war. Until Democrats and Republicans alike get their acts together, the United States will face many more tests of our resolve and leadership in the coming weeks and months.
Bob Barr represented Georgia’s Seventh District in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1995 to 2003. He served as the United States Attorney in Atlanta from 1986 to 1990 and was an official with the CIA in the 1970s. He now practices law in Atlanta, Georgia and serves as head of Liberty Guard.