Commentary: The Speaker We Need

by Scott McKay


It might have been embarrassing, and it might have given the enemies in the political class ample opportunities to snicker and hurl insults. But at the end of the day, the result reached when Mike Johnson won a 220–209 vote over wannabe Def Poetry Jam participant Hakeem Jeffries was the best one America could have asked for.

We have, after three weeks of infighting and paralysis, a Speaker of the House — and what we have, by all indications, is something of which we can be very proud.

Of course, no sooner was Johnson’s name floated than the Left pounced on him as a 2020 “election denier,” owing to the fact that Johnson wrote the House Republican amicus brief in Texas v. Pennsylvania, the lawsuit filed over the manifest irregularities affecting that election. Prior to the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol riot, Johnson was set to deliver an exhaustive argument about the substandard conduct of that election in multiple states — not to claim that Joe Biden had stolen the election, but to make the far less assailable case that the six swing states particularly in question (Georgia, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, Arizona, and Nevada) violated their own laws in allowing illegal practices to take hold.

Johnson’s brief in the Texas case is well-written and delivered in a moderate tone. It bears little resemblance to the arguments made by President Donald Trump in the aftermath of the election, correct (or incorrect) though those may have been. Johnson wasn’t out over his skis, because he never is.

He’s a Christian. And a mild-mannered Christian, at that.

But don’t take Mike Johnson’s Ned Flanders manner as a sign of weakness. Mike Johnson’s spine is made of steel, and Mike Johnson knows exactly what time it is in America.

I know these things because I’ve known Mike Johnson for more than a decade. I’ve known him since before he ever got into politics; I’ve known him as one of the most articulate, principled conservatives Louisiana’s state Legislature has ever seen (which wasn’t all that long); and I’ve known him as a congressman.

As it turns out, Mike Johnson wrote the foreword to my book The Revivalist Manifesto: How Patriots Can Win The Next American Era last year, because we share a virtually identical take on conservatism and American government.

When I first met Mike, it was at an annual dinner put on by the Louisiana Family Forum, a Christian conservative lobby organization that has fought valiantly against woke secularism in our state. He and his wife Kelly were at my table, and we spent some time talking about politics and life. Mike was then just an attorney, though he was quickly becoming known as Louisiana’s best constitutional lawyer. He had been tabbed as the dean of a proposed law school that Louisiana College, now known as Louisiana Christian University, was to build in Shreveport.

That project didn’t quite get off the ground thanks to some funding difficulties, but a couple of years later, when then-state Rep. Jeff Thompson decided to run for a district judgeship, Johnson entered politics and won Thompson’s seat. In 2016, when John Fleming left Congress to run for the U.S. Senate seat then held by David Vitter (and now held by John Kennedy), Johnson entered a crowded field and ultimately won an overwhelming victory as a new member of Congress.

A little more than seven and a half years later, he’s now the Speaker of the House.


Because Mike Johnson is a trusted man. He’s a Christian who lives his life guided by Scripture. He’s a man who can carry on civil disagreements. He’s a man of both principle and creativity, who can find solutions and bring people together. He’s a kind man, and he’s a very intelligent man.

And, as I said, Mike Johnson knows very well what time it is in America.

As one specific example — the one that will be most pressing as he takes the gavel — Johnson shows evidence of understanding why Kevin McCarthy ultimately failed as his predecessor. For all of the caterwauling about Matt Gaetz’s personal aims, which will look less and less catastrophic as Johnson’s hold on the speakership solidifies (you’re going to notice a major difference in Republican House leadership now that a stable, principled, and well-grounded Speaker is in place), the most important reason why McCarthy fell was his inability to move the 12 appropriations bills funding the government in a timely manner.

In congressional parlance, that’s what’s known as “regular order,” and it hasn’t been in effect for more than two decades in the House. Instead, we’ve had a procession of budget-by-continuing-resolution, which has the effect of locking in wasteful and damaging spending because Congress has to vote up or down on one massive spending package rather than dissecting the federal budget and rooting out abuse within it. Departure from regular order is the single largest reason why we’re now $33.6 trillion in debt and the very future of our republic is in jeopardy.

McCarthy didn’t take this issue seriously enough, and he rightly lost his speakership over it. Johnson understands how crucial it is to reform the budget process, and he communicated that to the GOP conference:

Johnson also spoke to the issue in his acceptance address as Speaker — and this week he’s going to be pushing to discharge two of the 12 appropriations bills to the floor.

Of course, it’s awfully late in the day for getting back to regular order, as the 45-day continuing resolution averting a government shutdown has nearly expired. Johnson is going to have to devote all of his energies to getting appropriations bills off the floor and across the rotunda to the Senate so that he’s not a victim of shutdown politics as McCarthy was.

But it’s doable.

It’s doable for a man of trust, integrity, and principle in a position to lead.

And Mike Johnson, whom I am proud to call a friend, is such a man.

I think you’ll be very impressed when you see what he can do. Finally, there is a Republican leader in Washington who understands — and is committed to — what’s needed to spark our revival as a nation.

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Scott McKay is a contributing editor at The American Spectator and publisher of the Hayride, which offers news and commentary on Louisiana and national politics, and, a national political news aggregation and opinion site. Additionally, he’s the author of the new book The Revivalist Manifesto: How Patriots Can Win The Next American Era, available at He’s also a writer of fiction — check out his three Tales of Ardenia novels Animus, Perdition and Retribution at Amazon. Scott’s other project is The Speakeasy, a free-speech social and news app with benefits – check it out here.
Photo “Mike Johnson” by Mike Johnson.




Appeared at and reprinted from The American Spectator

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