And so it happened again this week, as Republicans tried to elect a new speaker to replace Kevin McCarthy, whom they deposed in a coup the previous week. As the conference gathered on Tuesday night to hear from speaker candidates Steve Scalise (La.) and Jim Jordan (Ohio), Rep. Harriet Hageman (Wyo.), the Trump-backed slayer of Liz Cheney, walked into the caucus meeting wearing a big smile and carrying a lasso. Was she planning to rope some goats? She didn’t say.
A moment later, Rep. Nancy Mace (R-S.C.), one of the eight Republicans who voted out McCarthy (Calif.), strolled into the caucus meeting with a big red “A” decal on her T-shirt. “I’m wearing the scarlet letter,” she later explained to a group of us, “after the week that I just had last week, being a woman up here and being demonized for my vote.” In her telling, wearing the 17th-century mark of the adulteress showed that “I’m going to do the right thing every single time.”
There was little time to dwell on Mace’s bold reinterpretation of Hawthorne, however, because the defrocked McCarthy himself soon emerged from the caucus meeting, which he quit after leading the opening prayer. Recognizing that he had a captive audience in the 140 or so journalists crowding the hallway, he gave a 13-minute news conference repeating the same thoughts about Israel he had offered in a news conference the day before.