Magic Mike

House Speaker Mike Johnson holds a news conference in the National Statuary Hall at the U.S. Capitol on April 17, 2024. (Photo by Kent Nishimura/Getty Images)

Opinions will differ as to the precise moment that Republican politics lost its power to shock, but we can ballpark it sometime in early 2021. After the head of the party attempted a coup, was spared any consequence for his actions by GOP members in Congress, and then merrily carried on as leader without any real challenge to his authority, anything has seemed possible.

You could imagine any ridiculously inane thing Donald Trump might say, or offer me any scenario of how badly he and his admirers might behave after another defeat this fall, no matter how hair-raising or outlandish, and all I’d do is nod calmly, stroke my chin, and say, “Yeah, seems plausible.” Anything is possible with the Republican Party and so nothing it or its leaders do can truly be shocking.

I thought. Then I watched this clip on Wednesday afternoon of the country’s highest-ranking Republican officeholder and fell out of my chair.

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