House Speaker Mike Johnson, whose grand vision for America includes transforming every uterus in the country into a Pez dispenser, is convinced he’s the North American Moses who will lead his people to the Promised Land. What Promised Land does he mean? Who really knows? It could be Mexico, which many Republicans are now intent on invading—prompting bizarro headlines in serious journals like Foreign Policy, which in early November weirdly admonished, “America Shouldn’t Invade Mexico.”
But who really knows what’s going on in Johnson’s head late at night when he gets these flashes of insight? He thinks he’s talking to God, though it’s marginally more likely his wife installed Alexa without telling him.
In a recent speech before the National Association of Christian Lawmakers, Johnson said God woke him up in the middle of the night to tell him it was His plan all along to publicly humiliate His faithful servants Kevin McCarthy, Jim Jordan, and Steve Scalise so House Republicans would finally be exhausted enough to accept Mike Johnson as their leader.
He then very pointedly noted that he’s America’s next Moses, destined to lead the country through a glorious “Red Sea moment.”
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No, really. He did. Watch:
JOHNSON: “The Lord told me very clearly to prepare, be ready. Be ready for what? Okay, I don’t know. We’re coming to a Red Sea moment. What does that mean, Lord? And then when the speaker’s race happened and Kevin McCarthy, who is a dear friend of mine, was deposed—vacated from the chair—oh, wow, well this is what the Lord may have been preparing us for.
“And so I started praying more about that, and then the Lord began to wake me up through this three-week process we’re in in the middle of the night to speak to me, and to write things down, plans and procedures and ideas on how we could pull the conference together. Now, at the time I assumed the Lord is going to choose a new Moses, and oh, thank you, Lord, you’re going to allow me to be Aaron to Moses.
“And so I worked to get Steve Scalise elected speaker. That didn’t happen. And then Jim Jordan, who was like another big brother of mine, and no that didn’t happen. And then Tom Emmer, and ultimately 13 people ran for the post. And the Lord kept telling me to wait, wait, wait, so I waited, I waited.
“And then at the end, when it came toward the end, the Lord said, ‘Now, step forward.’ ‘Me? I’m supposed to be Aaron.’ No, the Lord said, ‘Step forward.’”
Of course, pretending you talk to God is one of the slickest grifts there is, because no one can ever check. You can’t really Google “does God talk to Mike Johnson?” Well, you can, but you’ll mostly just get FAQs on applying for permanent Canadian residence. But it is nice to know that God had a clear plan when he tortured Johnson to the point where he could no longer sleep through the night without talking to God.
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Anyway, for those who don’t speak dominionist Christian, here’s what Mike was talking about. Aaron was Moses’ brother and sidekick. He was more eloquent than Moses, who, according to at least one Bible translation, spoke with “faltering lips.”
The “Red Sea moment” refers to the passage in the Bible where the Israelites are trapped alongside the Red Sea as Pharaoh’s soldiers bear down on them in their chariots, determined to enslave them again. Moses raises his staff, the sea parts, and the Israelites escape. Then, as the Egyptians attempt to cross over the same passage, the sea crashes down in on them, drowning all the Democrats and Hollywood liberals who keep ruining Christmas. Of course, this all came after God mysteriously hardened Pharaoh’s heart against his captives about 80 times, instead of just shouting, “Hey, Pharaoh, look behind you!” and beaming his peeps into Canaan while the dude had his back turned.
That said, there’s another layer to Johnson’s febrile analogy—and it helps explain why God didn’t just deus ex machina them all to Dave & Buster’s.
Here’s one brief explanation, from Crosswalk.com:
God intentionally put [the Israelites] there, and God who knew exactly how this was going to play out. There was never a doubt.
Never. A. Single. Doubt.
Could it be that we find ourselves standing between the sea and an approaching army because God puts us there on purpose?
1 Then the Lord said to Moses, 2 “Tell the Israelites to turn back and encamp near Pi Hahiroth, between Migdol and the sea. They are to encamp by the sea, directly opposite Baal Zephon. 3 Pharaoh will think, ‘The Israelites are wandering around the land in confusion, hemmed in by the desert.’ 4 And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and he will pursue them. But I will gain glory for myself through Pharaoh and all his army, and the Egyptians will know that I am the Lord.” So the Israelites did this.
God knew the result. All along. He planned it.
There He goes hardening Pharaoh’s heart again. And why? So He can show off to the Egyptians, apparently. By drowning them. And their horses.
In other words, in Mike Johnson’s parochial, Bible-besotted worldview, lots of bad people need to suffer and die before God delivers his promised “Handmaid’s Tale” utopia. Making Kevin McCarthy look like a drowning Red Sea ferret for nine months was all part of the plan.
This analogy isn’t perfect, of course. For one thing, McCarthy flails more like a marmot than a ferret, and Republicans are still worshipping an insensate golden idol. But if Christian theocrats wander in the desert for 40 years looking for their promised land, that’s more than okay with the rest of us. So long as their promised land is Branson, Missouri, or a Chick-fil-A, or somewhere else we don’t really want to visit anyway.
But have no doubt: Johnson and his ilk are deadly serious about remaking America in the idiosyncratic image of their god.
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As veteran Democratic political consultant James Carville points out, Johnson and his ilk are as serious about turning America into a theocracy as Trump is about turning it into a fascist dictatorship. In fact, in their minds, those are two great tastes that taste great together.
Watch—the video is helpfully captioned!
So now we face our own moment of truth. Will we let these wannabe theocrats run rampant, or will we call out their schemes while there’s still time? Because, to be clear, 2024 may be our last chance. After that, we’ll only have ourselves to blame—and dominionist twits like Mike Johnson, of course.
Check out Aldous J. Pennyfarthing’s four-volume Trump-trashing compendium, including the finale, Goodbye, Asshat: 101 Farewell Letters to Donald Trump, at this link. Or, if you prefer a test drive, you can download the epilogue to Goodbye, Asshat for the low, low price of FREE.