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Speaker of the House’s Jimmy Stewart Hollywood myth-making.

For the past six months the United States has not had the funding needed to stem the tide of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine after two years of bloody and heroic defiance. This is because the Republican-controlled Congress and its newest Speaker of the House have taken orders to hold off on a vote at the whims of one man: Donald Trump. The Republican nominee for president has a childish beef with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy for not making up shit about his 2020 opponent, the current American President, Joe Biden (not to mention the former president’s weird allegiance to Russia’s tyrannical lunatic president, Vladimir Putin). 

As insane as this sounds, the future of Western civilization rests on a man currently sitting in a NYC courtroom defending himself from hush payments he made to a porn star illegally using campaign funds in 2016 and then covering it up with falsified documents. For reasons only known to the GOP Cabal, Speaker Mike Johnson, who is supposed to be the third most powerful person in the nation and not a Trump organization lacky, is hamstrung. Flanked on the far right by House members that use their unchallenged positions thanks to Republican gerrymandering to hang over his head the same fate as former Speaker Kevin McCarthy, the dreaded “motion to vacate,” Johnson has kept the House of Representatives in a state of inertia.

If Speaker Johnson merely puts the measure to fund the Ukrainian effort to a vote, he risks his gig. Putting the world on notice for a third world war or be ousted as Speaker and endure the wrath of the MAGA crazies who routinely threaten the lives of people and their families who oppose the fascist Trump at every turn* has been Johnson’s choice.

*By the way, it is important to note that if Trump becomes president again this kind of violent, unchecked, lunacy is a glimpse into what life is going to be around here, but I digress.

Johnson must let hundreds of thousands of innocent women and children in Ukraine be massacred and hand over Ukraine to Russia (who will geographically threaten NATO and thus the United States), or risk becoming a political footnote. However, in a dramatic Hollywood-esque shift, this week Speaker Johnson has undergone a Saint Paul on the road to Damascus moment. For months he has enthusiastically done Trump’s bidding and avoided being on the chopping block, despite Georgia Representative and resident goofball Marjorie Taylor Greene incessantly threatening to kick him to the curb. He was even whisked on down to Florida to kiss Trump’s ring, but somehow, amid this pathetic genuflecting, Johnson has floated the idea of getting a vote together, blathering something about “doing the right thing,” eventually.

Six months late.

Better late than never.

The cynical among us must ask why as the political landscape has not changed. Trump is still trying to get elected. He still hates Zelenskyy. Silly right-wing punditry and media poofs continue exposing Russian-fueled anti-Ukrainian propaganda. The speakership still hangs by a thread. Assuming Johnson hasn’t suddenly dumped a lifetime of right-wing stupidity and chucked his worship of Trump, and hasn’t lost all sense of survival instincts, what changed this week? 

I have a theory!

Clearly, the Speaker feels this is a moment for him to either fade into obscurity – no one on the precipice of history wants that – or become “someone.” He sees daylight to significance and, most importantly, has found a buffer: Democrats. Nearly in the majority due to the lack of Red Wave in 2022, they want to save Europe from being overrun. Dems, unlike Trump and the MAGA isolationists, see the historical worth of NATO for the protection of democratic ideals in Europe. So… a deal has been struck. 

Unlike McCarthy (who Democrats pegged as a two-faced hack), Johnson seems, for now, politically malleable; this means they won’t lineup to oust him as they did to the former Speaker. And the way some “moderate” Republicans have been crowing lately – many of them supporting the defense of Ukraine – there doesn’t seem to be the votes to send Johnson packing. If so, he can finally get a vote to fund Ukraine and other foreign aid to the floor, which he apparently and quite suddenly decided was now important.

Why is it important?

The Republicans, and particularly Johnson, see that if not for Israel’s horrific invasion of Gaza after Hamas’ heinous attack in October, President Biden might be crushing Trump in the polls. The pullback from the youth and minority vote from Biden over what they consider genocide in Gaza has been a political loser for the preseident.* 

*Somehow the lives of Ukrainian women and children are not as significant as Palestinians. Go figure.

Hence, Johnson’s quick trip to Trump-land to convince the former president this is a wise political move to keep his name out of events in Europe and lay them on Biden. This may – and this is just me riffing here – lead to Johnson taking up the recently rejected Republican-penned bi-partisan border security bill Trump killed to keep that crisis raging in a ham-fisted and terribly cynical attempt to hurt Biden on the issue. Johnson, like most Republicans, believe that this is an existential crisis and should not be used as a political tool for Trump. They also see this as a growing political loser for Trump, who now shares the blame for the migrant issue that should have been all on Biden. 

If Johnson is emboldened by this vote, it gives him momentum and gravitas to actually do his job. He becomes “significant” instead of a bystander to history. He rises to the moment and doesn’t just ride out whatever time he has left in this powerful position as a MAGA doormat. 

It is a wise move, and, yes, it is the correct and moral one. Still, my guess is that if someone wasn’t so sure this was the “right thing to do” (as Johnson now professes) for the past six months, and all of-a-sudden makes this kind of ballsy move, it is rarely done for the good of anything or anyone but himself.

Regardless, looks like the “right thing” will be done. The U.S. will continue to arm Ukraine against Russian aggression. We’ll keep our military out of this, which it could come to if NATO is threatened. No one, except Trump, who despises NATO and will likely pull us out of it if he is unfortunately elected in November wants that – Republicans or Democrats. Apparently, with his own kid in uniform, Johnson has a personal stake in avoiding that outcome. 

So, while I think Johnson is auditioning for his Jimmy Stewart Mr. Smith Goes to Washington moment – one man against the system – I’m thinking he’s already secured his safety net. And just maybe the 118th Congress, for the first time since being sworn in, can do something other than whorish media stunts and feckless political shenanigans.