“There are three things I have learned not to discuss with people. Politics. Religion. And the Great Pumpkin.” — Linus in “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown”

The Peanuts character Linus was steadfast in his belief in the Great Pumpkin. Linus was convinced that if he hung out in the pumpkin patch all night long, the Great Pumpkin would arise and bestow him special Halloween gifts.

Of course there is no Great Pumpkin.

And on Capitol Hill, there is no speaker of the House. There hasn’t been a speaker now for two weeks.


Yet House Republicans continue to camp out in the parliamentary pumpkin patch each night, waiting for a mythical character who will rise and deliver them political salvation.

At the rate we’re going on Capitol Hill, we may have to wait until Halloween before lawmakers choose a speaker.

And don’t get me started about Thanksgiving or Christmas.

Every time it looks like the House inches closer to electing a speaker — be it House Majority Leader Steve Scalise, R-La.; Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan, R-Ohio; or even Rep. Austin Scott, R-Ga. — Republicans swoop in Lucy-style and yank away the football.

Peanuts creator Charles Schulz initiated the annual football liturgy in the daily comic strip back in the mid-1950s, but he first introduced the pigskin flub into the television canon via the 1966 production of “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.”

One could hardly find a better allegory for House Republicans than the Lucy/Charlie Brown caper.

The GOP is the majority party in the House. Yet historic infighting and recriminations diminished Republicans. It started with incinerating five days and 15 ballots before finally electing former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., in January. It was the longest election for speaker since 1859.

Internecine battles blocked Republicans from even debating their own defense spending bill for weeks. The same discord prevented the GOP from passing more than one spending bill over the summer.


Naturally, Republicans returned to Washington in September and blamed McCarthy — even though it was his own members who failed to advance those bills.

So a small band of Republicans finally ousted McCarthy in early October. The California Republican committed what Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., interpreted as the cardinal sin of working with Democrats to avert a government shutdown. This was after some arch-conservatives torched McCarthy in the spring for cutting a deal with President Biden to avoid a fiscal calamity with the debt ceiling.

So now, Republicans assumed the duality of portraying both Lucy and Charlie Brown. They jerked the football away from themselves, soaring catastrophically into the air, landing hard on their respective keisters.

And, they’re simultaneously camped out in the pumpkin, er, “Speaker’s patch,” waiting for you-know-who.

“Good grief,” as Charlie Brown might say.

This gives you a sense of what Republicans are up against.

Rep. Anna Paulina Luna, R-Fla., indicated she would endorse Scalise for majority leader. Then she pulled away her football the very next morning. Now she’s for Jordan.

Rep. Victoria Spartz, R-Ind., told Fox News she voted “present,” on a secret ballot no less, for speaker during Scalise’s bid last Wednesday. By Friday afternoon, she voted for Jordan in a similar, secret conclave. However, on Friday evening, Spartz declared she would “have to assess” whether she would still support Jordan.

“I am not sure if he truly is the independent thinker and visionary leader we need to deliver for the American people,” said Spartz.

House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mike Rogers, R-Ala., was adamant in his opposition to Jordan. By Monday morning, Rogers came around.

These guys make Lucy look like the holder for a team about to kick a game-winning field goal in the Super Bowl.

This is why some Republicans may do better waiting for the Great Pumpkin to arise and bring order to the pumpkin patch.

The Republican party is spiraling right now on Capitol Hill.

Republicans launched verbal fusillades against one another over the weekend as Jordan supporters began threatening to work against GOPers who wouldn’t support him for speaker. Some lorded over the others’ heads “the wrath of Trump.” Former President Donald Trump endorsed Jordan two weeks ago. In other words, a Republican House member would surely support Jordan — if they knew what was good for them. That’s one reason why Jordan and his allies want to get opponents on the record. Those strong-arm tactics could alienate some Republicans from backing Jordan rather than building support.

This is rough.


There’s a reason why Scott got out of bed last Friday as a rank-and-file Republican member. Some may even characterize him as a backbencher. But by midday, Scott was in the race for speaker.

“When I woke up this morning, I had no intention of doing this. It took me a long time to even get to my wife to tell her, ‘Call our friends. Be in prayer.’ Because we haven’t done any preparation,” said Scott. “But I believe if we as Republicans are going to be the majority, we have to do the right things the right way. And we’re not doing that right now.”

Scott had no organization. No battle plan. No preparation.

Yours truly encountered House Transportation Committee Chairman Sam Graves, R-Mo., in the hall just as the balloting for speaker began Friday afternoon between Jordan and Scott. I asked Graves how things were in the room.

His response was gobsmacking.

“I think Austin (Scott) wins,” said Graves. “He was good on his feet in there. Made a good presentation.”

The vote totals came a few minutes later. Graves was wrong. Scott didn’t defeat Jordan. Jordan prevailed in the conference meeting 124-81 over Scott.

But consider this. Without even breaking a sweat, Scott rounded up 81 votes behind closed doors. Eighty-one Republicans thought so little of Jordan’s candidacy that they would rather support someone who materialized out thin air than the Ohio Republican.

Republicans took a second ballot. Fifty-five Republicans vowed not to support Jordan on the floor. Dipping into the parliamentary algebra here, Jordan was about 65 votes short of reaching the threshold to become speaker on the floor.

Jordan whittled that number down over the weekend. But the bar to clear remains high.

Scalise loyalist and Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Fla., was amazed that so few of Jordan’s acolytes shifted to Scalise AFTER Jordan endorsed Scalise last week.

“He couldn’t get his closest people to follow him,” said Diaz-Balart. “It seems that he has a hard time getting folks that are his closest friends, closest people to follow him.”

Back on Peanuts, there are a lot of naysayers surrounding Linus who dismiss impassioned belief in the Great Pumpkin.

“Just you wait ‘til next year, Charlie Brown. You’ll see,” chides Linus. “I’ll be there. I’ll be sitting there in that pumpkin patch. And I’ll see the Great Pumpkin. Just wait and see, Charlie Brown.”

The way things have gone, Linus may stand a better chance of spotting the Great Pumpkin before the House of Representatives elects a speaker.