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Our Culture Inchoate: "Mac" takes over #28

Updated: Oct 16, 2019


HIRO MIZUTO (HM): Okay, we’re back and there is still much to dissect. My question: in the new congressional leadership, who is out?

ROB RUNTMAN (RR): The notable democrats who are out are Schiff, Nadler, and Waters. No surprises there, and that’s a serious message. None of them commands any real support beyond their own constituency. But why doesn’t Torres marginalize AOT?

BRITTANY BOWERS (BB): I suspect our teacher from New Jersey wants to remove distractions to progress, first. AOT, love her or hate her, wants to work, is vocal, and does not see electoral brinkmanship as the key to her survival – yet AOT may be wrong about some policies, which is debatable, and might be miscalculating about electoral sharp elbowing, but she is new and fresh and has room to grow. The old democratic guard is a cinder block chained around congress’ neck, at least to Torres.

HM: Steny Hoyer is now the minority whip. His first reaction to Torres’ ascendancy was respectful and reserved, although shocked and surprised. When the extent of Pelosi’s health became clear, he was angry and visibly shaken, and lashed out in a private meeting, saying that this congress would not pass so much as a new post office dedication.

TOMMY TOBIAS (TT): Exactly as feared, and predictable…

HM: Then his unprecedented presser just moments ago, his non-apology apology, and then “we’ll see what happens.”

RR: He did recognize that he let his emotions get the better of him. I liked that he essentially repeated Torres’ previous remarks, that “we have the same ideals, though differing ideas, and we’re all inherently seeking good."

BB: Dozens of deals were made, and Hoyer is now on the receiving end. Juicy stuff. Ten democratic chairs change., and Torres stated clearly her priorities. There will be hurt careers here, whether people go with her or not. And her gambit could backfire.

TT: The anti-Trump faction will never concede to her anything if she seems friendly to the president. The 20-plus contenders for the democratic presidential nomination are in something of a tight spot.

BB: That’s an understatement, Tommy. The lurch left of all the contenders has been remarkable, but Torres has given every signal that the middle will control. Certainly she has hit the ground running.

HM: There is so little bio on her, so here’s what we’ve cobbled together over the past couple hours. Born in 1980 in Eastfield, New Jersey, raised by her mom and grandmother after her father’s death when she was just four years old.

Honoria McIlhenny grew up in the house she lives in today in Eastfield, a stone’s throw from Manhattan, or four stops on the New Jersey Transit. She attended St Bonaventure University and earned a BA in History, and married her Marine, John Torres, after he graduated from boot camp in March of 2002. The bride had her daughter, Jane, on Christmas day of that same year.

She worked as a teacher in the Eastfield system for the next 14 years. During that time Honoria Torres had triplet boys in 2010. Only her mom calls her Honoria, and no one calls her Honey, at least to her face, and everyone close to her calls her Mac – an honorarium she chose when she was a child, for her dad, William McIlhenny, an Eastfield policeman killed in the line of duty.

She ran for the 16th district in New Jersey in 2014, won, and was reelected in 2016 and 2018, although she was seriously primaried in 2018. Torres is antithetical to the core element of the democratic party: choice.

BB: She has always been staunchly pro-life, and my opinion is that the New York, Virginia and congressional votes the past few months on “born-alive” were flashpoints on Torres’ worldview.

RR: I agree, Brit. She could no longer countenance a straight party line on unfettered abortion with no room for her, or the majority of Americans.

TT: But what about the Mueller investigation? Certainly she was vocal about that. Another flashpoint?

HM: No doubt, but I suspect now the endless investigations will stop, for both parties. No more Russia, no more FISA, no more any of it. And whether people will respond is the big gamble.

TT: You know, since everyone calls her "Mac," why didn’t she just keep her maiden name? Is she appropriating her husband’s ethnicity? Was it a political calculation?

HM: You are tiring, Tommy. She took Torres as a last name a dozen years or more before she ran for office. I think the implication is ludicrous. Where do you come up with this goofy stuff?

Viewers, that’s all we have for now on this historic change in leadership in the House. Honoria Torres, a democrat from New Jersey, has taken the speaker’s gavel with 197 republican votes and thirty democratic ones. I am sure we’ll be talking about this one for many many weeks to come!

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