On Speaker McCarthy’s Travails And A Smoking Gun NYT Op-Ed

Rep. Kevin McCarthy didn’t take the Ethics Alarms ethics advice to withdraw from the race to become the next Speaker of the House. Instead, he hung on to barely squeak by on a 15th ballot, the most required to anoint a new Speaker since before the Civil War. To accomplish this, he made so many concessions to his GOP opposition that he evoked memories of the 1968 Presidential race, when it was said of Hubert Humphrey that he so wanted to be President that he showed himself unworthy of the office by the manner of his pursuit of it. McCarthy, it must be said, is no Humphrey: he is now a small, undistinguished and petty politician in a big job, the very epitome of the Peter Principle in action.

Observation 1: It tells you all you need to know about the state of the slim GOP House majority that Matt Gaetz, one of the truly creepy members of Congress, was a power broker in this mess. Just look at this guy. And in order to get the job he so covets, McCarthy gave him more power than he already had, and he already had too much because his brain dead district sent him to D.C. One of the concessions McCarthy made to flip the party members voting against him was to alter House rules so a single member could trigger a challenge to his leadership. This not only gives tremendous leverage to Gaetz, but other incompetent and untrustworthy Republican members, like Margorie Taylor Greene, Paul Gosar, and even the unimaginably dishonest George Santos. Yes, McCarthy has to ask “How high?” when Lying George tells him to jump too, or risk another 15 ballot siege.

Observation 2: Democrats and the news media (but I repeat myself) enjoyed blathering about how the McCarthy floor fight showed the lack of leadership in the Republican Party. I submit that this is an accusation Democrats have a lot of gall making against anyone, with a half-conscious Democratic President, an embarrassingly inept Vice-President, and the just-exiting antediluvian Speaker Nancy Pelosi as their party’s most prominent leaders. This is more than the pot calling the kettle black: this is the kettle calling the kettle black. The leadership of both parties and the nation as a whole is weak and corrupt, arguably as weak and corrupt as it has ever been. In hindsight, Lyndon Johnson looks like a giant, and Ronald Reagan a colossus. Who can Democrats point to today as respectable, credible party leaders? Elizabeth Warren? Pete Buttigieg? Old School hack Chuck Schumer?

Observations 3, 4, and 5…The Speaker vote did do some good, though. It prompted a smoking gun op-ed from Yale history prof Joanne Freeman. I say “smoking gun” because it is marvelous evidence of several conclusions Ethics Alarms has emphasized for a long, long time:

  • Bias makes you stupid. It even makes highly credentialed scholars from Yale stupid
  • The Left’s mouthpieces in academia really think those little people without advanced degrees will swallow whatever contrived nonsense they deliver. They must think that, or they wouldn’t write  junk like “If History Is Any Guide, a Chaotic House Speaker Vote Is Just the Beginning.”
  • Historians no longer can be trusted to provide anything of value to our perspective on the present, because they have allowed their discipline to become cripplingly politicized.

You have to read this thing. It’s really something. As long as the professor sticks to history—she recounts the circumstances of previous extended Speaker selection battle— it is useful and interesting stuff. But she cannot help herself: the essay then descends into partisan talking points, because that’s what today’s academics have devolved into: Democrat operatives with degrees. She writes, for example,

In campaigning for the 2021 midterm elections, the G.O.P. rode a wave of extremism, saying little about the politics of hate and denial practiced by some of its candidates in an effort to capture votes.

Yup, that was the Democratic marketing consultants-approved message alright. Republicans were Nazis, fascists, racists and homophobes who wanted to reduce women to baby-making slaves and were dangers to democracy. Nah, nothing extreme or hateful about that “wave”!

After years of election denial, promises broken and lies abounding, the left has little faith in the right. 

The left has little faith in the right? Democrats have been denying elections for more than two decades. They pushed through two single-party impeachments that lacked legal or Constitutional legitimacy. They used a “recovered memory” accuser to smear a Supreme Court nominee, and a fake Russian conspiracy claim to hobble an elected President. The Democratic Speaker openly mocked the Republican President during his State of the Union address, in defiance of all ‘democratic norms.”

Promises to support key bills or logrolling mean nothing in a party that has very little real planned legislation and very few policies.

The Republican Party has one very clear goal and policy: to do everything it can to block the attempt of an increasingly anti-American, anti-democracy, anti-free speech opposition to steer the nation toward Marxism, racial spoils, favored groups discrimination, and the suppression of individual liberties. It doesn’t need a lot of legislation to accomplish that mission, and it is a mission crucial to the survival of the nation as the unique society it was designed to be.

The House has elected a speaker, but that won’t put an end to the internecine Republican battles. They will continue, entangling Congress and stymieing national politics in the process. Politics is a team sport that requires captains, congressional politics, even more so. Today’s congressional Republicans are not a team; they have no captain and they have displayed their failings for all the world to see.

The House Democrats, in contrast, reflect the Borg-like single mindedness of the Communist Party in the USSR. This, to the Yale professor, is a good thing.

I’m not surprised.

12 thoughts on “On Speaker McCarthy’s Travails And A Smoking Gun NYT Op-Ed

  1. Is it unethical to link to an op-ed behind the NYT paywall, and then say “you have to read it” when any self-respecting reader of Ethics Alarm wouldn’t pay a dime to the NYT? Heck, I even hate to do their crossword puzzles anymore even if I can find them for free. (Tongue-in-cheek “is it unethical”, but it is a pain.)

      • Unethical? Probably not. Illegal? Probably yes.

        There’s an ever-shifting standard of “fair use” when it comes to quoting stuff like this. You’re in a better position than I am to determine what the current standard is.

        As I understand it, the current standard is to quote 75 words or less of the money shot. But I’m not an expert on this.

      • I’ll never see any of it behind a paywall. They claim to offer two free articles/month without a subscription. Somehow, despite having not visited their site even once in the preceding 30+ days, I am always greeted with a statement that I’ve already had my two articles and am sent to a subscription page.
        If I see something that links to the NYT, I don’t even try.
        I don’t know if this is unique to me.

        • If you right-click the link and select “open in incognito mode” you should be OK. The website doesn’t get identifying information from your browser, assumes you’re a new viewer, and uses a free view.

  2. “Today’s congressional Republicans are not a team; they have no captain and they have displayed their failings for all the world to see.

    The House Democrats, in contrast, reflect the Borg-like single mindedness of the Communist Party in the USSR.”

    If I, had to choose I’ll take the former because it will realize that it must get its act together to advance policy. The latter has no interest in changing to meet the needs of all citizens.

    In your observations you said McCarthy weakened himself by making the following concession:

    “One of the concessions McCarthy made to flip the party members voting against him was to alter House rules so a single member could trigger a challenge to his leadership. This not only gives tremendous leverage to Gaetz, but other incompetent and untrustworthy Republican members, like Margorie Taylor Greene, Paul Gosar, and even the unimaginably dishonest George Santos.”

    Yes, it could trigger a challenge, but such challenges would need to have broader support than simply one member. We should also consider the idea that this concession might prevent an exodus of the base from the party if McCarthy begins to be another Bohner or Ryan. It is simply a check on the Speaker. If I wanted an authoritarian Speaker who demands conformity just vote Democrat. We might want to consider that we have no idea what Speaker Pelosi gave up in obtaining unanimous conformity. It is easy to give up other people’s (taxpayers) money to get agreement. Promising more money to districts represented by Freedom Caucus politicians is antithetical to the ideals of that caucus so it is a non-starter.

    I for one, and I have heard others say they are done, supporting (sending money to) the RNC or the RSCC. McConnell, et al, have lost credibility among what I would call working class Republicans who favor more limited government. Even those of us who supported Trump but would prefer someone else now are willing to walk away from the Party if it is nothing more than the group that plays antagonist to the crony capitalists and Progressives in DC whose wealth is positively correlated to the size of government.

    The single biggest reason I did not want McCarthy has never been mentioned anywhere. He is third in line for the Presidency, and we need to make sure that should anything happen to the President and Vice President we should not be forced to be limited to another inarticulate and poor negotiator.

    • The paragraph that includes “. . . nothing more than the group that plays antagonist to the crony capitalists and Progressives . . .” should be . . .pretends to play the antagonist.

  3. Funny how things change. Remember Will Rogers saying, “I don’t belong to any organized political party. I’m a Democrat.” Who are all these people kidding? Every time I see a headline about GOP chaos, I want to say, “Fuck you.”

  4. McCarthy, it must be said, is no Humphrey: he is now a small, undistinguished and petty politician in a big job, the very epitome of the Peter Principle in action.

    Always falling short? Speaker McCarthy shares this one weird trick for accomplishing your goals.

  5. I disagree with the contention that McCarthy should have withdrawn.

    Was this embarrassing for the party? Sure. But let’s contextualize this a little. 20 Republicans dissenting from the choice of speaker is middle of the pack. Boehner had almost 30. The problem was that the midterms were closer than they really should have been.

    And while you could say “Yeah, but wasn’t it McCarthy’s job to get as many House seats as possible?” and be correct, it pays to remember that the party lost ground both Gubernatorially and in the Senate. More, it was McCarthy’s job to get those seats because he won the Republican primary for that position. I know it’s a different because there has to be a majority candidate, but this is like casually exchanging the Republican Nominee for President moments before the election. It’s not how things are done.

    McCarthy ran for months, raised hundreds of millions of dollars for the party, disproportionately overperformed his peers in other branches of government, and was being asked to step aside because Matt Gaetz and a cadre of idiots didn’t like the cut of his jib?

    And what, exactly, was the alternative? Ask Jim Jordan to give up the Judiciary Committee chair? He explicitly said he didn’t want it. Scalise? He also didn’t want it. Donalds? Fresh into his second term? Biggs? Banks? Hern? Zeldin? Zeldin wasn’t even in the House! Trump?! Really… Gaetz gave Trump a vote. So what? They collect McCarthy’s scalp and then what? Give the position to someone who really doesn’t want it? These people didn’t have a plan. They weren’t acting seriously, and this was serious business. They deserved to lose, capitulation wasn’t an option.

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