Conservative explains how Kevin McCarthy went from Trumpian 'groveler' to 'demagogue in his own right'
Washington Post columnist Michael Gerson has not been shy about attacking fellow conservatives when he believes they are in the wrong, and that includes House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy — who he slams as a "demagogue" in his September 2 column.
According to Gerson, McCarthy seriously crossed the line when he threatened retaliation against any companies that cooperate with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's select committee on the January 6 insurrection.
"House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy's threat that Republicans 'will not forget' if telecommunications companies comply with requests for e-mail and phone records by the January 6 committee marks a coming out of sorts," Gerson explains. "For years, McCarthy (R-Calif.) has been former President Donald Trump's factotum — a groveler and sniveler, held in obvious contempt by the object of his loyalty. You can usually identify the minority leader in a picture by his hunted expression. But now, McCarthy is emerging as a demagogue in his own right."
Gerson continues, "His obstruction of a congressional inquiry is probably a violation of House ethics rules, and maybe even a violation of federal law. But that is presumably the point: McCarthy wants to show his chest hair and spitting skills in a party where toxic masculinity has become the dominant political philosophy."
According to Gerson, McCarthy's threat against companies makes it painfully obvious that the California Republican "has fully adopted the MAGA conception of governing as gangsterism."
"With the notable exception of the Senate minority leader, Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), the GOP's national leadership has now enthusiastically embraced as its platform the lawless pursuit and exercise of power," Gerson argues. "This creates a predictable cascade of further problems as the right's entire ideological spectrum becomes red-shifted."
Gerson notes how great an influence Patrick Buchanan has had on the Republican Party.
"What was the Buchanan right is now the governing face of the party, further radicalized by its temporary access to executive power," Gerson warns. "The role of movement conservatives is now played by Christian nationalists, true QAnon believers, anti-maskers and anti-vaxxers of the conspiratorial right. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) and her ilk do not so much push rightward as downward, into a rabbit hole of destructive insanity."
Gerson adds, "The right-wing populist slot is now filled by the militia movement, the Proud Boys, neo-confederates and various White supremacists. Their activism is more of the kidnap-the-governor-of-Michigan and brutalize-Capitol-Police-officers variety. They have been invited into the GOP coalition by Trump's consistent refusal to adequately repudiate them. And people such as Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-N.C.) feed their appetite for apocalyptic 'bloodshed.'"
Gerson concludes his column by warning that if the GOP regains control of the U.S. House of Representatives and McCarthy replaces Pelosi as House speaker, it will be a dark day for the United States.
"When a leader such as McCarthy fully embraces Trumpism — both its content and methods — as the essence of governing Republicanism," Gerson notes, "he is not only determining the predominant ideology of his party. He is also implicitly affirming the new ideological ecosystem of the American right…. Here is something you can depend on: The elevation of McCarthy to House speaker would be a disastrous day for the republic."
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