Last night, GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy treated America to a (literally) record-breaking performance. He stood in the House of Representatives — in theory to spew a few dishonest words about the BBB before the House voted on it — and then, like men do in a room, he hijacked it. Kevin spoke for eight plus hours — flipping through binders filled with filler Kevin could reference as he spoke. And spoke. And spoke. Kevin was filibustering the vote the best (the only) way he could in the House where no filibuster exists. In the end, it didn’t matter one bit. The House just passed it! So, why was Kevin doing this? Was it because the legislation that just passed the House would do terrible things to his constituents and his district? No. The opposite is true. Most Americans — including the Californians in Kevin’s Central Valley district — want desperately what the BBB will provide Kevin’s constituents using their tax dollars. Even the CBO score agreed that the BBB would be better for America than doing nothing and a kajillion times better than anything any Republican has done or would ever propose.
Eight hours of bullshit kabuki. That’s what Kevin put on — and, if we’re fair — skillfully! Republicans can’t govern to save their lives (which they prove every time they get elected to office). But, damn if they can’t perform bullshit kabuki with consummate skill.
Remember Kyle Rittenhouse, weeping for himself on the witness stand — blubbering away, woe to him, because he’s being held to account for murdering people with a gun that should never have been in his ignorant, racist, adolescent hands? How about Travis McMichael insisting on cross examination that Ahmaud Arbery’s running away from him for ten minutes — no weapon, no backpack, just fear for his life — posed a mortal threat demanding lethal force (three shotgun blasts, two of them hitting Arbery and killing him)? Or Brett Kavanaugh wailing angrily at anyone who’d dare question his integrity? Equally disingenuous (but deserving of note): Republican Senator Susan Collins insisting (all evidence to the contrary) that she supports reproductive rights.
Bullshit kabuki is what you resort to when you have nothing under the hood to sell. Conservatives, don’t forget, want to “conserve” a Confederacy of whiteness. They want us to hold firmly onto the version of “All men are created equal” that doesn’t actually mean “all men” but does mean “only men”. Republicans know they can’t pitch regressing America back to 1850 to a diversifying electorate increasingly reluctant to let white people get away with abusing everyone NOT white. That’s why Republicans suppress Democratic voters and gerrymander. That’s why Republicans deal in dark money. That’s why they’ll even commit treason to hold onto power.
Once you’ve acknowledged — as Kevin McCarthy did on June 25, 2016 — that you suspect your presidential nominee might be compromised by a hostile foreign government (“There’s two people I think Putin pays — Rohrbacher and Trump — swear to God!” is how Kevin put it as he entered a meeting of Republican leaders a full month before the GOP nominated Trump) — you’ve nowhere to go except to the FBI. When you don’t — and neither Kevin nor any other Republican in that room even thought about calling the FBI — you cross a very real line. In hindsight — considering how deeply Vlad Putin still has his hooks into Trump? Kevin’s suspicions become even more problematic.
But that’s just from a legal perspective. We’re talking kabuki! Performance! And, from THAT perspective, Republicans are true “artistes” — and I’m here to celebrate their “artistry”. Below — some examples of Republican Bullshit Kabuki and my personal ratings and notes. I’ve given up drinking (but taken up smoking cannabis that much more); still, I appreciate structure and intensity. Great bullshit kabuki is like a big, massive red wine that can’t even spell “subtlety”. It’s kind of a cross between Hamlet’s advice to the players not to saw the air too much with their hands and MacBeth’s “tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, but signifying nothing.”
That’s how I score it!
6/10 Kyle’s good but he’s too clearly coached. He’ll get better after a few years in the can — if he’s sent to the can. As of this writing, Kyle’s jury is still out, his fate undecided. If the jury acquits Kyle, he’ll be free, but his bullshit kabuki skills won’t evolve. Hey, I worry for the kid!
Brett is what world class bullshit kabuki is all about. It’s defiant. Sociopathic even. Brett loves beer, man! And rape! And there ain’t nothing wrong with that! See what I mean about being “full of sound and fury” but “signifying nothing”?
The Bullshit Kabuki King, of course, is Donald Trump. He’s a whole school of bullshit kabuki unto himself.
Next time: why our news media loves bullshit kabuki…