Rachel Maddow was Stephen Colbert’s guest on Tuesday when — since “The Late Show” tapes in the afternoon — news came that the House of Representatives managed to avert a government shutdown. Naturally, Colbert had to ask her about it.
Maddow had thoughts about new House Speaker Mike Johnson, but she also used the opportunity to criticize Democrats for how they’re responding to the very real threat of Donald Trump and a Republican Party that supports him effectively lockstep.
“Democrats are still treating this like it as a governing project,” the MSNBC star warned, while Republicans, she said, “want a strong man form of government.”
But first, on Tuesday afternoon the House passed a stopgap budget to keep the government funded through February, avoiding a ruinous shutdown during the Christmas holiday season. The bill passed only because House Democrats, almost unanimously, voted to support a compromise bill put together by Johnson.
Asked about it, Maddow noted the irony that with the stopgap bill, Johnson did the same thing that got Kevin McCarthy removed as Speaker last month.
“I’m sure Mr. Johnson is very smart. And capable, and knows exactly what he’s doing. But he got this job because the previous guy was driven out with pitchforks and torches for having had the temerity to speak to political opponents rather than just wishing them dead,” Maddow said.
“And now he needs his political opponents in order to keep his job. Like I just, we all know how this ends. This is not a party that is trying to govern, and we are we’re faced with this larger project right now in our politics, which is that one side under the Republican Party’s leader is trying to say, you know, my political opponents don’t deserve to live. I shouldn’t be subjected to elections. I should just have power and rule and use the government to crush my enemies and get revenge,” Maddow continued.
She was of course referring to Donald Trump, who just this week used rhetoric threatening his various enemies that, as the Washington Post explained, is essentially identical to speeches made by Hitler and Mussolini. Among other things, he referred to them as “vermin” and promised to use the full force of government to eliminate them.
About that, Maddow then argued that as she sees it, Democrats aren’t taking this remotely seriously enough.
“The Democrats are like, ‘we’d like to talk about light rail and some foreign, balanced foreign policy perspectives on…” she said with heavy sarcasm. “Democrats are still treating this like it as a governing project. And it is really, the two parties are doing two very different things. So so now we’re going to keep the government open, and it is because the Democrats came to the rescue and said that we should.”
“But this is the Republican party still not even wanting to keep the government going,” Maddow continued, “because they don’t believe that governance is what we need in this country. They believe we want a strong man form of government under a guy who just says what he wants and it happens.”
“And the stakes are really high right now. And it’s just depressing to see what’s happening in Congress,” Maddow concluded. Watch the whole clip below:
Minutes before Rachel Maddow walked out on our stage, we got word that the House passed Speaker Mike Johnson's bill to fund the government into the new year. Here's how @maddow reacted.#Colbert pic.twitter.com/BNwj4jVm4z
— The Late Show (@colbertlateshow) November 15, 2023