Kevin McCarthy is being imperiled by the very 'extremists' he encouraged: ex-Reagan speechwriter
Hoping to become House speaker, Rep. Kevin McCarthy of California has spent years expressing his loyalty to former President Donald Trump and faithfully reciting MAGA talking points. McCarthy made it clear that he would be open to far-right Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia having committee assignments if Republicans flipped the U.S. House of Representatives in the 2022 midterms.
Republicans did flip the House in 2022, albeit with a small single-digit majority. When January 3, 2023 arrived, McCarthy was hoping to be chosen as House speaker. But after three votes, around 20 House Republicans were still rejecting him. McCarthy had Greene’s support, but the “Never Kevin” Republicans (including members of the House Freedom Caucus) were supporting the ultra-MAGA Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio for House speaker.
McCarthy is getting no sympathy from Never Trump conservative Mona Charen, a veteran conservative columnist who was a speechwriter for First Lady Nancy Reagan during the 1980s. In a scathing article published early Wednesday morning, January 4, Charen argues that McCarthy is being imperiled by the very “extremists” he encouraged.
“Here’s a funny thing about the Freedom Caucus’ insurrection against Kevin McCarthy, which on Tuesday, denied him election as speaker of the House on three consecutive ballots for the first time in a century,” Charen explains. “On the surface, it looks like the firebrands and zealots are in revolt against the GOP ‘establishment.’ But the reality is that the Republican establishment is deader than dead. It’s hard to date its demise with precision, but January 6, 2021 is a good marker. That was a second date that should live in infamy — a date when, following a violent assault on the Capitol, two-thirds of the Republican caucus voted with the mob.”
Charen continues, “The battle unfolding over the speakership is not between the extremists and the establishment. It’s between two camps of extremists. McCarthy, like all of the members of the Freedom Caucus who are attempting to thwart him, refused to certify Joe Biden’s victory in the Electoral College. Like the Freedom Caucus, McCarthy has faithfully repeated the lie about the 2020 election being stolen. Like them, he has fanned the flames of conspiracism, pushed for an end to the military’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate, helped Harriet Hageman defeat Liz Cheney in the Wyoming primary, and enfolded Marjorie Taylor Greene in a great bear hug. He’s game for impeaching Alejandro Mayorkas, investigating Hunter Biden’s laptop, and removing the magnetometers at the entrance to the House floor.”
McCarthy, Charen notes, has “been indistinguishable from House Freedom Caucus members when it comes to matters of civic virtue too.” The California Republican, she writes, “failed to condemn the brutal attack on Paul Pelosi, contenting himself with a private note to Speaker Pelosi, and was silent after Trump dined with Kanye West and Nick Fuentes.”
“(McCarthy) has threatened to remove Eric Swalwell, Ilhan Omar, and Adam Schiff from their committees as revenge for Greene’s treatment by Democrats,” Charen observes. “He has expressed skepticism about aid to Ukraine, vowing that there would be no ‘blank check.’ What more could the Freedom Caucus demand? In fact, as the clock ticked down to the vote for speaker, McCarthy was willing to give in to every demand of the Freedom Caucus, even including the ‘motion to vacate the chair’ which would permit five members of Congress to call a vote for the speaker’s removal whenever they chose…. There is no way for McCarthy to negotiate with people whose only aim is to be seen as opposing him.”
The former Reagan White House speechwriter adds, “It’s the logical end point of a party that has descended into mindless demonization — of Democrats, of immigrants, of the ‘Deep State,’ of the FBI, of the medical profession, of the ‘woke’ military — and now, of one another. It’s hard to see how they can be trusted with power.”
Never Trump conservative and former GOP strategist Tim Miller makes similar arguments about McCarthy in an article published by The Bulwark on January 3. The “Never Kevin” votes against making McCarthy House speaker, according to Miller, demonstrate that Never Trumpers are absolutely right about how unhinged the Republican Party has become.
“For years, Kevin McCarthy — a blow-dried, donor-class Republican — has tried to maintain a hold on his increasingly bedraggled, QAnon-class conference by prostrating himself before Donald Trump in increasingly ostentatious ways, so as to prove to his flock that he was an authentic convert to the One True Church of MAGA,” Miller writes. “McCarthy calculated that this public self-abasement would be worth it because he would be rewarded in the end with the gavel and bust he had long coveted. This afternoon, he was rewarded instead with the type of humiliation we have not seen on the House floor in a century: being forced to smirk through repeated public beatings at the hands of his own members.”
Miller continues, “Kevin is a man with many flaws, but on this day, his fatal one was not heeding the lesson of the leopard-eating-faces allegory. Those of us outside the party — whose faces were long ago masticated — had the distance to see this dynamic clearly…. We knew that there was no sacrifice, no degradation that would satisfy Kevin’s leopards.”
The “Never Kevin” votes against McCarthy, Miller argues, show that “crazy begets crazy” in the Trumpified GOP of 2023.
“Responsible Republicans who want to run a governing party will eventually have to come to terms with the fact that there is no appeasing or accommodating their leopards,” Miller laments. “That no amount of submission to the Orange Idol will do. That they are either in the boat with the lunatics or out here on the shore with the cucks.”
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