Does Trump want to be Speaker?

AP Photo/Ben Gray

This idea has been floated before but three things are different now from when it was first suggested this past spring.

1. After Glenn Youngkin’s win in Virginia and the latest round of gruesome polling for Democrats, a GOP House takeover next fall looks like a mortal lock. Possibly with a huge majority.

2. One of Trump’s own cronies, Mark Meadows, has begun chattering about the idea publicly, conceivably at the behest of Trump himself.

3. Trump has reportedly nurtured the insane belief that he might somehow be reinstated as president before 2024. Becoming Speaker would give him a path to that, hypothetically at least.

Here’s the Meadows clip that’s circulating today. It’s sort of a joke, sort of not:

A Twitter pal brought me up short with this comment: “Want to bet Meadows is pitching this because Trump told him to? And want to bet that Trump is pitching this because idiots are telling him that if he’s speaker, and they impeach Biden and Harris, Trump can be reinstated as POTUS before ‘24?” That does sound like a scheme that would appeal to Trump. He tried to gain another term as president in January by endorsing procedural chicanery in Congress. Why wouldn’t he try the same strategy as a private citizen using the GOP’s new House majority?

Someone would eventually pull him aside, hopefully, and explain that there won’t be anywhere near 67 votes in the Senate to remove Biden and Harris even if Republicans win every contested seat next fall. There probably wouldn’t even be 50 votes, as some GOP senators wouldn’t vote to remove absent evidence of a high crime or misdemeanor. (Note that I said some, not all.) The only benefit to Trump in becoming Speaker would be the joy of lib-owning in seeing him installed in another exalted position in Washington after having left office in disgrace. But Democrats would be fine with that, I think: Having Trump back in the public eye and as the highest-ranking Republican in government again would make it much easier to run an anti-Trump campaign in the midterms than it was for Terry McAuliffe in Virginia. Dems are desperate for ways to remind suburban voters why those voters stopped supporting Republicans for a few years. Speaker Trump would be the starkest possible reminder.

Meadows sure does seem eager to promote the idea that the GOP can do better than Kevin McCarthy for Speaker, though:

Hear me out. What if Trump wants full control over the House caucus but doesn’t want to have waste hours a day doing the hard work of legislating, wrangling votes, scheduling committee hearings, and so on? Speaker is a prestigious job but he’s already had the most prestigious job. He’d view it as a step down, and he’s not getting off the golf course and away from holding court at Mar-a-Lago to take a step down. But what if he could deputize a hardcore loyalist to be Speaker instead? Someone who’d been in Congress before, perhaps, and who knew the way the House operated. Someone who would carry out his wishes unquestioningly, punishing dissenters and rewarding sycophants in the caucus as needed, without Trump having to miss any of the 15 hours of Fox News he watches each day?

Is there anyone like that in Trump’s inner circle right now?

Well … Mark Meadows fits the bill, I suppose. Former Freedom Caucus chairman, former Trump chief of staff, former and possibly current Birther. A guy who’s well acquainted with all the major players in the Republican caucus, especially on the MAGA side. Why, he’d be just what Trump is looking for as a viceroy to rule over the House. As the man himself reminded us in the first clip above, you don’t need to be a sitting member of Congress to be Speaker. Hmmmmm.

Hmmm. Hmmm. Hmmm.

I don’t know if McCarthy is worried about being replaced by Meadows per se but pretty clearly he is worried about being replaced. The more MAGA the Class of 2022 is, the more likely it is that the caucus will insist on one of their own as leader:

Kevin’s hearing footsteps. I can’t say he doesn’t deserve to, even though I recognize that whoever follows him will be much, much worse.

By the way, here’s a new poll circulating today further to my point about Trump alienating everyone except his own base:

Sixty percent of Republicans is easily enough to coast in a GOP primary but he’d be the weakest hand the party could realistically play in the general election, possibly the only candidate capable of driving independents disaffected with Biden to give the Democrats a second look. The fact that as many as 40 percent of Republicans are tired of the Trump show is further reason to look elsewhere, but that advice won’t be heeded, needless to say. No matter, though: If he loses, he can always claim he won to save face.