Cesar Chelala
A physician and writer

Jim Jordan is not the Man for the Job

The refusal by Republican member of Congress to not nominate Jim Jordan as a Speaker of the House shows that there is still some degree of rationality in members of Congress. Jordan was perhaps one of the most flawed members of Congress to aspire to that position. He had a distinguished career as a wrestler at Ohio State, but as a legislator he failed to pass even a single bill in Congress. His failure to become Speaker of the House may mean he should go back to his earlier love, wrestling.

But even his work as a wrestler and assistant coach wasn’t devoid of controversy. An exhaustive investigation by The Washington Post revealed how as an assistant coach and graduate student at Ohio State from 1986 to 1994 he was on campus during one of the most serious scandals in the school’s history. During that time, and for over two decades, Richard Strauss, an athletic team doctor, molested dozens of male students and athletes, particularly wrestlers.

According to an Ohio State university report, Strauss’s abuses ranged from excessively fondling of genitals to anal rape. Those abuses were confirmed by 11 former wrestlers interviewed by the Post. Eight among them said that they had clear recollections of team members protesting Strauss’s behavior either directly to Jordan or within his range of hearing. They all indicated that they couldn’t conceive that Jordan was unaware of Strauss’s conduct.

However, responding to a pattern that would become familiar during his political career, Jordan denied all the allegations, having his office issue a statement that said, “Congressman Jordan never saw any abuse, never heard about any abuse, and never had any abuse reported to him during his time as a coach at Ohio State.” As reported in the Post, Andy Geiger, a former athletic director at Ohio State said that although he believed Jordan had “no culpability whatsoever” to say that he was unaware of what was going on “is not credible.”

Although voicing concern for the athletes who were abused by Dr. Strauss could have saved dozens of them from unnecessary grief and shame, Jordan’s behavior of denying responsibility for egregious actions would become a constant of his political career. This was never more evident than in his behavior regarding the January 6 insurrection that threatened to topple the duly elected government.

After Biden won the 2020 presidential election, Jordan supported lawsuits that challenged the election results, and voted not to certify the Electoral College results. Even more incriminating, he refused to cooperate with the U.S. House Select Committee on the January 6 attack, which subpoenaed him on May 12, 2022, a disgraceful conduct for a Chair of the House Judiciary Committee.

In 2023, after supporting Kevin McCarthy for the speakership, he became a candidate only to be rejected three times by his peers, in a rare example of rational behavior. He received only 196 votes of the 217 votes needed to win in the third round. How can one person aspire to be speaker of the House, when in over 16 years he has never sponsored a bill that later became law?

Donald Trump’s strong support of Jim Jordan as a speaker of the house did him no favor, since he couldn’t change Republicans’ minds. This didn’t stop Trump from awarding Jim Jordan the Presidential Medal of Freedom, in a close-door ceremony, debasing that prestigious award.

In addition to giving a “nay” vote to the PACT ACT, which expanded VA benefits to veterans exposed to toxic chemicals during their military service, Jordan said that mandate enforcing vaccinations to protect against the coronavirus were un-American. He could have explained that statement to George Washington, the commander in chief of the Continental Army in the Revolutionary War, who mandated that his troops be immunized after a smallpox outbreak devastated the nation.

And this, Ladies and Gentlemen, is the state of the Republic. The Barbarians are at the gates, and the walls of the Citadel are shaking.

About the Author
César Chelala is a physician and writer born in Argentina and living in the U.S. He wrote for leading newspapers all over the world and for the main medical journals, among them The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, The Japan Times, The China Daily, The Moscow Times, The International Herald Tribune, Le Monde Diplomatique, Harvard International Review, The Journal of the American Medical Association, The Lancet, Annals of Internal Medicine, and The British Medical Journal. He is a co-winner of an Overseas Press Club of America award and two national journalism awards from Argentina.
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