Why ‘ambitious partisan’ Kevin McCarthy is the ultimate ‘party over country’ politician
If Republicans retake the U.S. House of Representatives in the 2022 midterms, it is entirely possible that House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy will become House speaker. Los Angeles Times opinion columnist Jackie Calmes analyzes McCarthy in a biting column published on October 1, describing him as an "ambitious partisan" who has no desire to be a "constructive, substantive legislator."
"Much like his Republican Senate counterpart, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, McCarthy is what the late Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona used to describe as a 'party over country' politician," Calmes explains. "McConnell has said he's '100%' focused on blocking President Biden's agenda, but lately, McCarthy has been working to top him. McCarthy is mobilizing House Republicans against the bipartisan infrastructure bill that passed in the Senate with support from 19 Republicans, including McConnell."
According to Calmes, McCarthy's MAGA-minded behavior — from promoting former President Donald Trump's election fraud lies to ousting Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming from her leadership role in the House — is driven by his overwhelming desire to "become speaker."
"With Republicans favored to win a majority in next year's midterm election, his ambition dictates every move," Calmes argues. "He's virtually measuring the draperies for the suite belonging to Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco). Yes, that's the one briefly occupied, and vandalized, by the pro-Trump insurrectionists whom some House Republicans now describe as mere tourists, even patriots."
Calmes continues, "They get little or no reproach from McCarthy. He's determined not to offend former President Trump or the MAGA base between now and November 2022. He needs their support, first to elect a Republican majority and then to back him for speaker. After all, the far right is no longer a wing of the party, as it was in 2015. It is the party: Trump's party."
Calmes notes that following the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol Building, McCarthy briefly wanted to "censure" Trump — but after experiencing "blowback" from Trump supporters, he went back to "blowing to the MAGA winds."
"It's McCarthy's dream to be speaker, even at the cost of his political soul and the nation's democratic wellbeing," Calmes observes. "Yet it's his nightmare to be reliant on a man who returns no one's loyalty, and who no longer thinks of McCarthy as loyal — 'my Kevin.' McCarthy can bend the knee all he wants. Trump stands ready to kick him to the curb."
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