Rooting for injuries
When the going gets tough, the tough say fuck you
No, seriously, why should he quit?
I’m seeing all these people saying Kevin McCarthy doesn’t have the votes — that it’s been (at this writing) ten ballots and he’s still mired at 200 votes while his tormentors in his own party hold fast to their approximately 20, and the Democrats continue to cast all 212 of their votes for Jeffries.
Twitter and the political press rain abuse on him. “McCarthy takes desperation for speakership to new level,” sneers CNN; “Jimmy Kimmel Roasts Kevin McCarthy as He Falls Short, Again,” sure-why-nots the New York Times (“last time a Kevin felt this abandoned in his house was in the movie ‘Home Alone’”). He’s “repeatedly rejected,” says the AP.
There have been so many memes about his humiliation they’re no longer funny. I didn’t think that was possible.
And it’s not just the press and the piss-takers. Hardcore conservatives have been ripping into McCarthy at every opportunity. He’s been excoriated in an open letter signed by Ginni Thomas, Ed Meese, L. Brent Bozell III, Gary Bauer, and several other top rightwing crackpots. Lauren Boebert went so far as to defy the Word of the Trump, who had championed McCarthy: “Even having my favorite president call us and tell us we need to knock this off, I think it actually needs to be reversed… the president needs to tell Kevin McCarthy that sir, you do not have the votes, and it’s time to withdraw.” Try to imagine this erstwhile votary saying anything like this about anything else Trump wanted, including Around the World.
The hilarious thing is, it’s not like McCarthy’s any less rightwing than his opponents, nor even any less of a Trumpian buffoon. Look at this The Hill story from December 11 (at which time, you may recall, people already knew he’d have to fight for the Speakership):
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said he plans to subpoena intelligence officials who signed a letter saying a New York Post story about Hunter Biden might be disinformation…
The story has been in the news recently as part of “Twitter Files” that allegedly show how the platform censored some information that could benefit conservatives and hurt liberals…
“Why did they sign it? Why did they lie to the American public? A Clapper, a Brennan? Why did you use the reputation that America was able to give to you more information, but use it for a political purpose and lie to the American public?” McCarthy said.
McCarthy said of the signatories that he’ll “bring them and subpoena them before a committee” when the GOP takes control of the House in the next Congress.
This is exactly the kind of… well, McCarthyite bullshit that Boebert, Gaetz, et alia are choking for. And word on the Hill is that McCarthy’s already given these guys every concession he had to give in terms of committees, the right to recall the Speaker, etc. The Washington Post:
Chris Stewart (R-Utah) confirmed to MSNBC that there is a breaking point at which he and his fellow McCarthy backers could bolt, saying, “Honestly, there’s many of us who feel like we’re very, very close to that at this point.”
Stewart added: “If you go beyond that, you really would reach a point where … we’re not going to be ruled by them. And I think we’re nearing that threshold now, where two things: There’s only so much you can ask for, and I think we’ve reached that. And then the second thing is, if you go beyond that, you’re going to begin to lose the support of the other 200. Kevin, I know, is aware of that, and I think he’s careful not to go beyond that line.”
This would seem at first to be a classic prisoner’s dilemma: If McCarthy backers like Stewart abandon him because he’s given too much away, they in essence give everything away and the Freedom Caucus can stand up any loon they like at the podium.
But it’s less of a dilemma if Stewart isn’t really supporting a principle — if he’s just calculating for the most comfortable situation for himself after it all goes to shit. Maybe, by other-handing this way, Stewart is hoping to buy some cred with the Caucus, in case they win, without alienating McCarthy, in case he wins.
In fact the whole thing makes more sense if you leave off the notion that anything like a principle is at stake for any of these people. Gaetz, Greene, et alia are of the party of Kari Lake and George Santos — instead of principles they have a strategy, and that’s to lie without shame and fight without stopping. They came to life when Trump won it all by being the biggest asshole possible, and they are committed to the bit.
And despite his long history of old-fashioned glad-handing politics, Kevin McCarthy is the same way and plays the same game. He adopted the new style the minute Trump’s ascent became obvious; he whipped his colleagues back into line when the Access Hollywood tape made some of them falter. Don’t let all the catty crap on the internet confuse you into thinking this is some kind of generation-gap style battle. They’re all playing the same game, and that’s why none of them is backing down.
As always, I am confirmed in my cynicism whenever Peggy Noonan whips out the dolls and starts acting out her bizarre alternate-universe version of what her elected representatives ought to be doing:
As this is written, the balloting will continue into a fourth day. I guess Mr. McCarthy’s strategy is simply to wear his foes down. However it ends, a better path would have been for him to protect the speakership, and himself, by saying: I can’t be speaker under the conditions you ask, because that office can’t function with much of its authority sacrificed. So I will take myself out of the race. With so much tension and division I must be part of the cause, anyway, so I’ll remove myself from the drama and help you resolve it.
How modest this would be. The chaos that would follow could hardly be worse than the chaos we’ve seen. And if no new leader emerged, they might come back begging: Please, get back in!
As fucking if. As has become her recent habit, Noonan calls for the “normal people” to resist the likes of the Freedom Caucus — but what she really means by normal people is the Republican establishment, the establishment of Ronnie and Newt and W and Kevin, because she doesn’t understand — having only ever been engaged in the PR end of the operation — that the establishment is no more normal than the nuts.
Something else everyone, including Noonan, tells us is that this protracted fight is Bad for America. Which is true, but probably not as bad as what they’ll get up to when they finally get a leader and commence their planned inquisitions. So, to quote another overused meme, let them fight.